China Uses Animal Disease Control Methods on Humans to Maintain Covid-Zero: Dr. Sean Lin

Speaker 1:

Sean, thank you for joining zooming in today,

Speaker 2:

Simone. Uh, my pleasure to join your program. Thank you for inviting me.

Speaker 1:

okay. Let’s talk about China’s COVID zero policy and the situation in Shean today is the 15th day of Shanna’s lockdown. And, uh, I just saw a video uploaded today by a person from Shean and, uh, you can see the streets are still empty and the government said the risks of large scale rebound of the virus has been reduced to the minimum thanks to their policy. So do you think that COVID zero policy worked once again in Ian?

Speaker 2:

Uh, I, I think first, uh China’s um, zero out policies never work in the past. So many people think that Chinese government had a successful zero campaign when they deal with the Wuhan outbreak last year in 2020. Uh, but I don’t think that was actually a successful example because, uh, the governments, uh, conceal the information regarding how many people were hospitalized. How many people have severe diseases, how many people die, especially the death, or was a top national secret by the Chinese government. So we don’t know how they actually, uh, contain the epidemic, uh, in Wuhan. And after that, the death toll nationwide for Chinese communist parties, it’s a, it’s a part of, it’s a mysterious, low number that is abnormal. Nobody can believe that, um, attack rate the death rate for such a, uh, epidemic disease will be such a low level. It’s impossible.

Speaker 2:

government worldwide make, uh, may not think deeply or may not, uh, realize that they, uh, subconsciously thinking that the Chinese government had a successful way to deal with the epidemic. So may any government have been using different, uh, lockdown policy, try to, uh, mimic what Chinese government did in Wuhan? So actually I think that’s a very big example. And now I think in,

Speaker 1:

Okay, just before you go to more details, I mean the Chinese governments, obviously they, uh, you know, cover the truth all the time, but compared to other methods, maybe the Chinese government thinks, uh, that the, you know, the quarantine, the lockdown policy, zero out policy is still the best. All of all the other policies, that’s why they’re using it. And otherwise they, they don’t have to use this method. Right.

Speaker 2:

Uh, I think, um, this is actually a ideological issue for the Chinese government. They are not treating the Chinese people as a, a normal human being in terms of, in the disease outbreak or control situation. To me, the Chinese government is treating the Chinese people like, uh, livestock like animals. So in essence, they are human. Uh, I infectious disease, outbreak control. They are more like doing animal or livestock epidemic control. Uh, the reason I’m saying that is because they’re policy wise, uh, you can see, uh, the almost, almost very similar if you look at China’s animal, uh, disease, uh, control, uh, legislation as well with China, current policy for zero out the COVID in, in a human society. It’s very similar. They also organized, uh, different, uh, teams at different government levels. And they’re also emphasizing, uh, the local, uh, government official needs to be responsible for the epidemic.

Speaker 2:

And they also emphasize that, um, uh, need a big data to help control the disease outbreak situation and the emphasizing the great lowment, right? So for just like you growing cattles, right in different Greece, different regions, uh, in, even in the same animal farm, you can have different grids. If that particular grease has a disease outbreak, you can take care of that. Great particularly, right. And, and similarly they’re using the same ideas in society too. So any cities, any particular district have a outbreak, they can transfer, you know, 2000 people overnight to a isolation facility. This is almost exactly like treating animals, right? If you identify a cage, a grid of animals, whether it’s poetry, pigs have a potential outbreak, and you can quickly move all these to a, a particular location, isolate them then. And if the worst case, you know, is a large scale cooling, whether it’s killed in the poetry or, or the pigs, right?

Speaker 2:

So it happens a lot in China, especially, you know, China has so many different, uh, uh, like, uh, birds, loose situations, outbreak, or, or a SW fever like African SW fevers for the mouse disease outbreak in China, in animal facilities, right? So Chinese come very familiar with this animal, uh, control, uh, measures. And now basically they push this, uh, concept and, uh, measures into the animal, into the human society. Like, so you basically can see the Chinese don’t care about whether, uh, the human being has their own self consciousness. They have their own organization capabilities, right? People can organize, uh, self-help within the community, but Chinese government do not want any of these happen. It’s treat like animal. You are a potential host for infectious disease. You just like an animal, right? So the government have all the rights to deal with you. They can order you to, to a isolation quarantine place overnight, without any preparedness, without any further, like, uh, earlier advance, no notice, right?

Speaker 2:

Just like the sea lockdown, just within few hours, a city of 13 million people can be pushed into a lockdown, a very hard lockdown and lay down even more extreme. People are not forbidden and people are not allowed it to go to the street to purchase their own, uh, groceries, all these basic, right? So it’s very, very extreme. It’s treat like animal. So anytime I want to wipe out, or, uh, you can say the government war zero or fixed disease, they can also use these very, very hard tactics to push people into a quarantine place. So they can say, well, now we’re building a facility for 5,000 people, quarantine, a special place to, um, like a concentration came to lock on people and whether they are enough, uh, medical support for support logistic support for such a, a temporary facility, the government say, we deal with those issues later. And that’s why now in C young city, you can see so many people, uh, cry out on their social medias. Uh, talk about, we are hungry. We are start, right, because the government promised food, but it’s not there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I believe what you described is, uh, what they call, uh, you know, the societal COVID zero policy, and this is different from the previous one that they implemented, which is a absolute zero out policy. So this societal policy basically means that, uh, they quarantine all those who had close contact with the infected people, therefore in the future, any new case will be from those who were, uh, quarantined, but in the regular communities, in the big cities, they will reach COVID zero. So I have a, a few questions. How do you compare new policy, uh, with the old one and, uh, does the new policy, the societal COVID zero policy work.

Speaker 2:

Okay. So first let’s get, what’s the old policy. You talk about the absolute, uh, zero out policy. So actually, um, later in the year of 2021, a lot of the Chinese, uh, officials, media, uh, using the, uh, term, they call it dynamic zero because they know even for absolutely zero out policy that the, the central come and defined is very hard to implement. So you see China, uh, throughout 2021, so many different outbreak in different cities, and so many different cities. Right? I have outbreak, even though the government’s, uh, official data, always a very small number in dozen, sometimes, uh, cases in, in the big city. Uh, but it never totally crunch out. So the go, no, very clearly it’s impossible to do absolutely zero. So later in 2021, they started to use the term more about dynamic zero. That means, uh, for a city you can, uh, for a period of time, it can be zero out, right.

Speaker 2:

It’s dynamic. So it’s kind of like, um, if I gave , uh, uh, a scenario, just like you, you dealing with, uh, a trash, right? If you move your trash to your neighbors, your, your own home is temporary. Uh, trash is zero out, but the next day, if the neighbor moved the trash back to you, he is zero. And then you have new cases. So, so this is a dynamic zero, and these also still doesn’t work out. Uh, and especially in the sea installation, they, they clearly know, uh, for such a big city, certain many people, how do you move those cases away? Right. So, and especially when it has already have community transmissions, you have more cases in, in Shion. So in this way, so they create a new term cause societal zero up. So basically that means if I just, uh, store the trash in other people’s home permanently, then my home is always zero that’s societal zero up.

Speaker 2:

So you are not coming. Those people being quarantined as my, uh, Shean people, my own residents, basically. Right? So those problem can be dealed at different county level, city level, smaller city level, uh, not in a big city like C young. So that means societal zero up. So it it’s, it’s a ridiculous policy. And actually the term, the, when they create a term, it means they’re absolutely zero or dynamic zero policy doesn’t work. So they, uh, the, the local official government, uh, have to create this term in order to meet the high demand from the central government. Cause the central government want them to, to zero in four days. So by Inan all the public health official, including the CCP leaders in the local level, they understand this is impossible, mission impossible. So how do they deal with the central pressure? So they created this. So societal zero and move, you know, things of thousands of Shean people to other, uh, neighborhood, uh, counties nearby suburban areas. So in this way, they basically try to, um, please the central government. So this is a, how ridiculous still is this?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I mean, we know what the CCP is doing, but let’s escape them. The benefit of the adult. Mm-hmm me. I mean, if they have any reason to, you know, the, the, uh, the right reason to do this is because they think if we quarantine all those dangerous people, they’re not infected yet, but the, you know, potential COVID, uh, virus carriers. If we quarantine them into one place, then it’s easier to these dangerous people. And then the rest of the community is clean. So our effort will be more directed, more focused and easier. What do you think?

Speaker 2:

Okay. Yeah, from the surface, of course, this rationale, it makes sense, but the key is how you implement it. You can currently a lot of people, but the key is that you need to think comprehensively, uh, how to support people, uh, both logistically medically, you know, uh, even mentally how you support large amount of people, uh, in, in isolation, quarantine situation. And how do you ensure people have, uh, some, uh, uh, like comorbidity, uh, disease, how do you help them overcome this kind of situation? Right? So you, you won to suddenly announce, uh, a lockdown in, in a few hours and not in the last, such a scale. So how do you, uh, prevent secondary disaster? This is always one of the top issues where you’re dealing in public health crisis. You, you have to avoid people being, uh, injured, uh, physically, mentally, uh, damaged because of the, uh, quarantine policy or isolation procedures, right? So it should be a human process, but the Chinese government doesn’t care about that. That’s why I said, uh, it is not exactly treating people as human beings.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I have another question. This people dangerous people might be infected if they, if you put them together, wouldn’t the chances of them cross. In fact, each other be, be bigger and they could be, you know, the center of the spreading of the virus.

Speaker 2:

Yes. That’s why I said quarantine is not a simple thing, uh, of isolation, facilities and quarantine facilities, you need to, uh, especially build, right. Even in the past, even if you remember in, in Wuhan, when they build a fun time hospitals, that the temporary hospitals hosting thousands of people at a time, the Chinese C still talk about how a advanced facility is, right? All kinds of air filter system, how to, how to mobilize medical to support. But now in the year, 2022, there’s no such issues. As so, as you push people to a, a temporary quarantine location, as long as, as you do in the societal zero off the local officials feel happy about it. I deal with my problem already, right? So this is very different. And that’s why I said, uh, it is not the, uh, simple procedures to quarantine, large amount of people. That’s why in the, in the past history, governments are very helpful to implement any of these kind of policy to put large amount people into according facility. It definitely will create high potential across contamination, cross infections, higher rate of transmission, of the same infectious disease. And it is very bad situation. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

If that happens. So what do you think China would do?

Speaker 2:

That’s why I’m really worried about what will be the next step. So if we think about how people handling animal disease outbreak, right, the worst case is, is, uh, mask cooling, right? So if you, for example, if you have H seven and nine outbreak in, in the poetry, in the chicken, uh, the, the breeder can decide, I, I will kill maybe a hundred thousand, uh, chickens, birds, right? So, and then if there’s a, uh, for example, uh, African swine fever outbreak in your pigs, uh, populations, you can decide, I kill 50,000. So that’s cooling. Of course, when you massive killing a lot of people, you will temporarily block the disease transmission. And this part, this kind of measure Chinese gum is very familiar with. And maybe he’s a bad Oman. You know, the Chinese CDCs director, golf food, he’s a veterinarian. He’s not a medical doctor, the veterinarian, right?

Speaker 2:

So the Chinese government can always treating, okay, these population of people, their potential, uh, host for a big infectious disease, whether they’re close content or they’re the close content or close contact, uh, they’re just a block of people. These are people D people let me quarantine them. Um, whether they can survive these kind of isolation, I, they don’t care at this moment. So that’s why I really worry that the secondary disaster due to these very heart attack, uh, isolation procedures will kill many people, many people starving to death, or they have other disease, uh, that they varying at the same time. Right? Mobility issue will be very high. Yeah. So this is very, very in human process and no government should follow Chinese governments. Uh, uh, this kind of example, and, and I believe the Chinese government tried to, uh, push this idea to other part of world saying, you see, we, we do a very effective way in controlling these disease. And they even bring much more Chinese people to believe that your sacrifice is important for the whole country. Right? So they, they have a very successful in brainwashing people and many people as science, they not starving. They don’t think, uh, there this people in Shong in, in quarantine, what your sympathy. So that’s a very best situ

Speaker 1:

And this new wave Shion is mentally, uh, the Delta variant and, uh, black variant hasn’t reached China. Will it reach China eventually? And if China still uses the COVID zero policy on , what do you think will happen?

Speaker 2:

I actually dunno, uh, whether has been spread out in China or not, uh, there were cause talk about army, uh, cases being identified in China, even though our very small numbers, but we don’t know what’s the true situ the governments, uh, the public, uh, what’s causing the outbreak in, uh, data variants, but we didn’t see enough, uh, data regarding how many people were, uh, hospitalized. How many people having severe disease, uh, does the whole pattern showing, uh, similar pattern to the data outbreak other countries, or this is actually more similar to outbreak. Uh, we, we don’t know the government didn’t provide this information. None of the hospitals treating the COVID patients, but allowed it to give the data to the public. So how do you know what’s the true causes, the outbreak in China? So I actually suspected with the very, very powerful transmission rate from Omni crumbs Omni probably already spread out in certain regions in China.

Speaker 2:

And that’s why the, the, the Shean, or, or provinces the public health officers, the local CP leader were so scared about this way. And they use this extreme tactic. They may not just tell the public now it’s and they don’t care that Omni, maybe right now doesn’t cause, uh, very severe disease compared to data can right now basically showing, uh, less trend to, to have severe disease globally in different regions, whether in South Africa or in UK or in United States, the Chinese government don’t care about it for the local Chinese official, because the central government’s order is to zero out. Uh the, the COVID right. So as long as they be in testing, uh, plastic, uh, on this nuclear acid test, the local official have to be responsible for this, uh, community outbreak, whether it’s data or . So they just use the same extreme measures, uh, to, to wipe out, try to wipe out these, uh, numbers. I say numbers, right? Because they’re not really treating the disease, not treating the people they’re just cared about the number.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I’ve seen the Chinese media reports, uh, saying that this round, this wave is, uh, the Delta variant. Let’s just say that report is, uh, accurate, but if there are one cycle behind the international epidemic cycle, now that Delta and everybody else’s , uh, what I mean, does that have an impact? I mean,

Speaker 2:

Well, I, I think, uh, it’s almost impossible. China can be a, a unique island, uh, for Omni ground. Uh, the way the army spread is so fast. I know in China, uh, zero campaign can block . I don’t think China stay any chance for that.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So if Amran riches, China, uh, if they still apply this zero up policy, they will be in big trouble

Speaker 2:

Even. Oh, definitely. They’re already in. Yeah, definitely. I think they’re already in trouble in dealing with data with army crimes and it will be very much faster, especially if you put, you know, thousands of people in a temporary, uh, quarantine places like a garage, so many people will be affected. And actually I see some social media posts talk about, uh, people who, uh, who actually want to be isolated. The, the hospital refused to accept him. And then eight members from his family actually all got infected. Yeah. So ridiculous. Extreme examples like the in Shean. So anyway, I don’t think the Chinese can contain Amran. No countries can contain Amran. Nobody believe the human being can contain Armyn spreading right now. Uh, so I don’t think Chinese government can, uh, stay any chance to see, uh, to successfully zero army.

Speaker 1:

Hmm. But the Chinese leader, she Jean at at least for now, he is still insisting that China should apply this zero out policy and anybody who is opposing it, uh, this policy, he gets very angry with that person. So, I mean, how do you think this zero out policy play out in China in the future? Do you think they will stick to it to the end?

Speaker 2:

You, yeah, I think, uh, uh, yes, I think will stick out to his policies because any change of the policy will, uh, threaten his, uh, his positions and in the critical year, uh, reelection year, right. We would let’s call it reelection simply. But anyway, he, I don’t think he wanted change the policies, but at the same time, maybe the Chinese gun will be lucky because even a lot of people got infected with army crimes because many people are not showing severe disease. The Chinese government can always say, oh, see, no, no many people die and they they’ve been successful. Contain a disease. Chinese go can always, uh, tell a good story to the public so that people still believing the Chinese government did very good, uh, very people being sacrificing sea lockdown. What read on the internet, just a small, uh, sporadic situations. Um, it’s not as systematic happening.

Speaker 2:

Uh, people were being treated nicely. The, the government can do all these, uh, usage after this, uh, high lockdown. And right now they’re probably very worried about the, the winter Olympic in Beijing. That’s why Beijing implementing, uh, 56 days, uh, quarantine for any inbound travelers. So this is very extreme, right? No, no scientific reason for 56 days, uh, quarantine, but basically tell the world the Beijing one to who, uh, currenting you, the whole period, uh, until the winter is over. So basically that’s how they contain the distillation. And so the Chinese will tell, uh, Chinese people a good story. We have successfully how our Olympic you see, you know, we contain the situation. We don’t have, uh, maybe S going factory. They can always tell this kind of story to people. And then boosting, uh, the CCPs, the image to, to people, to the world saying they are the very successful example, even though the Chinese society suffer a lot and they try to further prove the dictatorship Soarian style, the Chinese government represents actually have a better advantage than the democratic system. That’s their whole EU they’re already preparing. And, and then they will carry out this campaign exactly in this way. So if

Speaker 1:

You were the guy who is, uh, you know, uh, who is, uh, overseeing China’s, uh, uh, pandemic control, uh, what do you think you would do?

Speaker 2:

I think, um, with a normal human, uh, thinking, you need to think about how to help people overcome this disease in a rational way. And if you see, uh, the globally, uh, the, all the scientific evidence, somatic evidence showing the, the spread of virus is so strong and such a strong IME innovation. So many people cannot avoid, uh, being infected by this wave of . Then you need to think about how human society can Cozi with the virus. How do you, uh, avoid hospital system, the overloaded, and then how do you quickly, uh, using different other, uh, maybe drugs to help people reduce their symptoms, all these kind of additional measure, or even other non pharmaceutical intervention measures that you can implement to support society. And how do you reduce, uh, the, the mental stress that people have in this kind of, uh, pandemics period. These are all very challenging task, very important tasks, and you can all do it in a very humane ways. And, uh, I think, uh, the key issues, whether you have a human heart, have a human mind or not, and I don’t think the Chinese government doing it in a human way, in a human way.

Speaker 1:

Great. Well, Sean, these are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

Speaker 2:

Well, I, I think, uh, let’s say for me right now, it’s really, really thank you for inviting me to, uh, have a comment on this situation in Cun.

Speaker 1:

Okay. Thank you, Sean.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

Good. All right. Good. Thank you. Thank you. All right. Okay. Bye.

Is President Tsai Ing-wen Moving towards Independence? An Interview with Dave Stilwell, Part Two

Simone Gao: (25:22)

let me talk about President’s Tsai Ing-wen’s recent move. Tsai Ing-wen had declared that ROC, Republic of China, and People’s Republic of China do not belong to each other. And to China, this is an indication of moving towards independence. And the U.S. hasn’t said anything about this yet. What do you think the U.S.’s stance is on this?

David Stilwell: (25:57)

Our stance is that we let the DPP and the Taiwan government do what it thinks is best. We obviously are concerned of any just blatant statements of independence, which Beijing has said it would, it would interpret as, uh, an invitation to invasion or whatever else you get. They’re, they’re very clear. I mean, Beijing is fuzzy on a lot of things. They employ ambiguity quite well, too. Um, but you know, any, uh, overt declaration of independence, they have said, in front of their own people multiple times, that that would be cause Bella, that they would take that as, uh, the, uh, key, the trigger to go to war. Uh, one of the key issues I mentioned before here is the fact that they have stated this in front of their own people. And I think Beijing is very concerned about how its own people view it.

David Stilwell: (26:46)

You know, its legitimacy, especially in a period of time when the economy is faltering. You recall that the, the unholy agreement between the CCP and the Chinese people: you allow us to run the country, and we’ll allow you to get rich. And people took that bargain and they, but they bought houses here in Hawaii that they could escape to, and they got blue passports, American passports, for their families’ escape plans and all that stuff. Hedging their bets, but they allowed the government to rule. But what happens when the economy is no longer, you know, cranking out 8% growth every year, and the people are, uh, starting to see their fortunes slip away? Uh, that to me is a cause, gives you cause for uh, concern. Um, uh, and that’s a conversation we should be having, uh, either at a low level or at the high stuff.

David Stilwell: (27:36)

Maybe when President Biden speaks to Xi Jinping, uh, on Monday, it looks like, maybe that’s going to be one of the topics is, you know–hang on a sec–you, you, uh, you throw this at every visiting delegation to read, and I’ve read it. I don’t know if you guys have read it, but basically it’s saying that, you know, our way is just as valid as your way and, and, and don’t, don’t question or, or wreck it. Well, what if it’s not? And what if the Chinese people no longer believe that, you know, the governance, his governance of China is not necessarily the way to go? This takes us to understand that, um, all these things have a domestic component that, uh, that Xi Jinping has to consider. And we should consider that as well as we prepare for, uh, potential outcomes or, you know, bad outcomes.

Simone Gao: (28:24)

Right. Uh, I agree with you that neither side, China or Taiwan, uh, has the will to break the balance right now. You know, China is not totally ready to invade Taiwan and Taiwan doesn’t, definitely doesn’t want to, uh, provoke anything. But there’s one thing that may break the balance and that’s the Sixth Plenary Session of the CCP they just had. So, that meeting just finished and, uh, uh, it seems like, uh, Xi Jinping’s position has been reinforced, and this might pave the way for him to take a third term in 2022. Um, how do you think, how do you think this will affect the situation in Taiwan, if his position does get reinforced and he will get a third term?

David Stilwell: (29:17)

It’s really hard to say. Uh, but you know, he’s basically violating, uh, 60 years of–well, since ’79, ’80, so he’s violating 40 years–of protocol. You know, their system basically said you get two terms, five years a piece. You could count on being in power for 10 years, but because we don’t want to become the Soviet Union, remember that…if you’ve ever seen the movie The Death of Stalin, I think you get a good idea of what a bad outcome looks like in this case. They understand that there’s got to be a transition. You can’t have a cultive personality like Mao, ’cause you see what happens. And I think we’re seeing that happen now as well. You’re seeing it when you have one person who gains too much power in the system, uh, it will eventually take you into, uh, a dead end. The question about how the sixth plenum turned out, though, to me is still a question.

David Stilwell: (30:02)

You know, if you read Xinhua People’s Daily, it says, you know, Xi’s declared better than Mao or on par with Mao, whatever honorifics that come up after–the core and the people’s leader and whatever they throw at him. I’m not sure, and I think the, the jury is out as to whether we actually reinforced Xi Jinping’s position here, or if there was a lot of tension and friction, uh, as people are questioning his ability to continue to lead. That answer, that won’t come out for a while. We’re not going to understand that. But if you read Desmond Shum’s book Red Roulette, which I hope everybody gets a chance to, it reads really well. It’s right up there with, uh, uh, John Garnaut’s book, The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo, another great book, uh, a similar subject, basically saying the facade of a monolithic PRC CCP leadership is a facade.

David Stilwell: (30:58)

There is a lot, as with any human endeavor, there is a lot of back-channel push and pull. There’s, you know, cliques and, and arguments and all that stuff. So, if you look at what Desmond Shum just published, boy that’s got to put the CCP on notice and it’s got to really make them nervous that these things are leaking out more and more. I mean, you are seeing more leaks now from the PRC than you’ve seen in the past as well. That’s people who are unhappy with how things are going. You can look forward to more of those leaks, which I believe will tell you that, uh, sixth plenary probably didn’t go as well as they would have you believe. And the last thing I’ll say on that is if you…I, I read this stuff every day. I try to stay current on all these events. I can’t keep up. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t keep up with the mountains of data coming out of Beijing and then the analysis that goes into that data. Uh, it’s just overwhelming. I’ve never seen, uh, as much change, writing, uh, policy suggestions and all the rest as I’ve seen in the last six months or so. So, all that’s to say the jury’s out. We have to employ time and patience and see how this pans out in two or three months.

Simone Gao: (32:05)

Right, right. Exactly. Uh, you know, I agree with you, there’s different opinions on the sixth plenary session, you know, their analysis saying that Xi Jinping did not get what he wanted from this meeting. Uh, that’s because the resolution did not put Xi Jinping above other communist leaders and, therefore, there’ll still be a hard fight to be fought for the 2022 20th, uh, Congress, National Congress, uh, and Xi Jinping might not get a third term. So, from the American point of view, if Xi Jinping does not get a third term, how will that affect the Taiwan Strait relations?

David Stilwell: (32:48)

I can’t see–again, this is easily arguable, but personally, I can’t see how that would be a bad thing, because that indicates a reconsideration of the current strategy. The fact, that, uh, you know, the current, uh, People’s leader was removed after all the efforts to change the system to allow him to govern, uh, through 2027 or beyond. The fact that that changed, uh, would tell you that there’s been a rethink. And my hope, and I think this is accurate, is that they would sort of, you know, withdraw and get focused on fixing problems at home first. Get, get the, the, uh, domestic issues under control. The rampant corruption. In spite of the disciplinary inspection efforts by Wang Qishan and his successor, corruption still is a massive problem, because the system runs on corruption. That’s…it’s like cancer, man. You pull the cancer out, but you pull the affected organ as well.

David Stilwell: (33:50)

You can’t separate the two. But he’s going to have to deal with that for a much, much longer time. And I do believe he’s, he understands that corruption is going to be the downfall of the Party. I remember stories of friends, um, you know, think tank friends in Beijing, who live near some PLA facilities, and you couldn’t go to a high-end restaurant and have any fun because the uniform PLA guys took the banquet room and they took all the Mai Tai and they took all the best food and, and they made a heck of a lot of noise and the people hear and see these things, and they don’t like it. They’re, you know, they’re having a great time and we’re, our economic prospects continue to decline. These are stories that, Simone, I think you guys can really help to expose as well, to show all this stuff well.

Simone Gao: (34:35)

Right, right. Uh, I think one particular concern about Xi Jinping not be able to resume a third term is he would do something, uh, desperate before the…

David Stilwell: (34:49)

Desperation.

Simone Gao: (34:49)

Yeah. desperation. So, would that be something the American part will consider or nobody was thinking about that?

David Stilwell: (34:58)

Oh, of course. I mean, we talk about that a lot. Diversionary wars, right? Things you do externally that create unity and support, uh, internally. Of course. Um, but I can’t think of one time that the PRC has done that. Some would point to Vietnam in 1979. I think that was all about splitting up an alliance between the Soviet Union and Vietnam. It had nothing to do with, uh, maybe securing, Deng Xiaoping or, or, you know, Zhao Ziyang or whoever’s position, you know, as they, as they recovered. Or actually–uh, uh, I’ll think of his name–Hu Yaobang. You know, supporting his position post-Mao. I, I don’t see that. Again, the odds are against you in something like that. Here’s the second question, you know, being a military guy: would the PLA obey those orders? When, when Xi Jinping first came to power in 2012, I remember hearing for the first time him say, PLA, you need to prepare for war.

David Stilwell: (35:57)

If you were to tell an American military person that, I would load up bombs, I would get them armed, and I would sit there on the end of the runway and wait for the order to take off, like we did in 1991 with Kuwait, to take off and go do my nation’s bidding, protect our national interests, through the military. So, so when Xi Jinping is telling the PLA prepare for war, we all imagined the worst, but what we quickly understood was he saying, no, actually like practice, like maybe get good at doing your job, because we may need you to do it at some point in the future, but we need you to stop working in art auctions, in real estate, in all these other, you know, commercial activities, and lining your pockets with all this ill-earned cash and focus on your primary job, which is national defense…uh, nope. Party defense. Defense of the Party, not defense of the nation. That’s another key point with the PLA. 

Simone Gao: (36:47)

Right, right. So, you think that’s not something like, uh, the U.S. should take into consideration, very…

David Stilwell: (36:55)

A key variable here in your, what you’re suggesting, is will the PLA fight?

Simone Gao: (37:01)

Within the PLA fight…

David Stilwell: (37:03)

Because this is…what if they determine this is a losing game, because they would face Japan, the U.S., they probably see some Australian activity, India. You can imagine that they would have to look at the western military region also getting involved if, if India or others chose to join in this, you know, sort of punitive response. So, yeah, I, I think there’s enough doubt there that, uh, I don’t know that the PLA would sacrifice their pink bodies on some bad idea coming out of Beijing, especially if Xi Jinping is being seen as, as, uh, you know, weak.

Simone Gao: (37:35)

Losing power. Okay. You know, a former Chinese Navy officer, excuse me, a former Chinese Navy officer told me that the PLA would not likely, uh, attack Taiwan within three years because, uh, the PLA cannot beat the U.S. military in three years. Uh, I mean, do you agree? And what about after three years? Will the PLA’s ability, capabilities, catch up that of the U.S. military in the future?

David Stilwell: (38:06)

So, at risk of contradicting myself, I will say that, uh, when we use the terms win and lose, uh, related to armed conflict, I think that’s a very bad idea. I mean, I can give you bunches of examples in the recent past–with the exception being Operation Desert Storm, uh, in 1991–where there really was no winning or losing. Look at Afghanistan. You know, we initially went into Afghanistan and we removed, uh, the, uh, Al-Qaeda terrorist threat. Um, but was that winning or was that just a temporary, temporarily delaying a problem or pushing it somewhere else? You know, Iraq, Syria, all these things. Hard to say what winning or losing is, but we do know that blood will be spilled and that the political climate will change on the back end of this to include, you know, demonstrating, uh, an aggressive policy like that would most certainly push Taiwan, Japan, and others, uh, further into the U.S. camp.

David Stilwell: (39:05)

That’s not, I don’t think, a good trade-off if you’re in Beijing. I don’t think. People are already beginning to question the fuzzy Panda thing. As I said at the top of the call, what you do here and, and, and very clearly painting a contrast between a democratic and free market Taiwan and an increasingly belligerent and authoritarian, uh, PRC is really important for the American people. We need to understand that they’re not the same thing. And as much as he, Xi Jinping, tries to tell us that his new type of governance, which, uh, oh, here we go: ”

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era,” right? That’s a long way of saying–theory, throw in that at the end–uh, Xi Jinping thought really isn’t valid. It’s just more authoritarianism. It’s, you’re going to have a hard time demonstrating, uh, that’s a valid way to go, especially since communism died in 1991 with the Soviets. So, uh, it’s a, it’s a tall bill, a tall order, to try to turn a win out of this. I don’t see it happening.

Simone Gao: (40:03)

Okay. Uh, fair. You know, China has been building up its nuclear capabilities. Do you think a nuclear situation will ever be possible in the Taiwan Strait or between U.S. and China?

David Stilwell: (40:21)

Anything’s possible. What’s interesting is, um…and look, anything having to do with PRC claims of warheads, capabilities, economic data, anything you get out of the Party has to be questioned. You can’t take it at face value. This really bothers me about Wall Street and others is, you know, claims of 6.1% or 8% growth. Uh, they buy that, and I’m digressing here, but the point is about nuclear claims. Um, and then if you look at Luckin Coffee and Didi Chuxing, uh, and Alipay and all these other things, you know, you scratch that a little bit and all of a sudden you realize there’s nothing there. Luckin Coffee is a great example of basically a Ponzi scheme, shell game, that people were putting good, American retirement money into thinking it was actually a real deal. And it wasn’t. So first off, I would say any data that comes out of Beijing, you have to question it. If you don’t have any way of independently verifying what they’re saying, I wouldn’t believe it because, remember, the Party manipulates all this data. There are still only 4,300…no, 4,636–four six three six, a little over 4,000–uh, official deaths from COVID in China.

David Stilwell: (41:32)

That’s the official data. Does anybody believe it? No, of course not. So, why would we put any stock in any other claims they make? On claims of nuclear capability, nuclear intent, all those things. Again, I would question those. I would make sure that we keep our options open in case what they’re saying isn’t true. Uh, what they said in the past is that they didn’t need a large nuclear capability, because of no first use and all those things. They needed a small, retaliatory capability, and they seem to be coming off of that as satellite imagery shows missile silos and all the rest. Uh, on that, um, and on issues like basing overseas and that, I would say that it is a little disingenuous of us to deny the PRC the ability, in case of basing or nukes, uh, to defend its own interests. They are in the big leagues now.

David Stilwell: (42:24)

They still claim to be a developing country, and we know that’s not true. Um, but you know, they have significant energy and other resource interests in Australia–uh, in, in Africa–that they have to protect those lines of communication. Uh, and so a base on the west coast of, uh, of Africa makes sense to me. I mean, we did it. Uh, I think it’s something that we can turn to our advantage if we would just think about it. Same thing with nukes. If they see themselves as a great power, and if they see, uh, their relationship with the U.S. is increasingly hostile–it’s always been hostile on their side, we’re finally joining the fight–but as they see that, it would make sense that they would have to build up their not just conventional but nuclear arsenal. So, I’m not alibiing it, excusing it, approving it. I’m just saying, it makes sense as a, as a great power with interests that they would want to do that. Linking it to Taiwan is another issue, and I know. But we’ve heard Chinese statements in the past about, you know, I think you value Los Angeles more than Taipei. I, I, I don’t have a whole lot to say on that.

Simone Gao: (43:22)

Well, yeah, I was going to ask you that question, because there seems to be an understanding among the Chinese military personnel and even average Chinese citizens that the Chinese, um, has, that China have a advantage, uh, over the U.S. regarding nuclear wars, because China can fight a unlimited war. Uh, a PLA General Zhu Chenghu who once said that China can afford to lose the whole population east of Xi An. America cannot do that. So, particularly if this is for Taiwan. Uh, so when it comes down to it, China has advantage over the U.S. on a nuclear situation. What’s your thoughts?

David Stilwell: (44:06)

I love that quote. I wish you could get Enes Kanter on this show and ask him how he feels about that. I mean, that’s a really bold statement about how little they value their minorities, isn’t it? Everything west of Xi An is either Hui or Uyghur or Tibetan or whatever. I mean, that, that is so telling as to this idea of human rights and other things. Um, Mao Zedong said the same thing after the Great Leap Forward, right? Three years of really bad policy resulting in 36 million dead of his own people. And they asked them, how do you assess all this? He goes, well, we need, we had too many people anyway. I mean, geez. It does, it does give you an idea of exactly how they think. Uh, a really wise, uh, fellow defense attache named Frank Miller calls this, this concept is amorally practical. Doing what makes sense, whatever, even if it’s to only allow a little advantage, doing it without risk or regard to the values of the morality of any certain thing.

David Stilwell: (45:06)

So, yeah, you know, losing a hundred million people, shoot, we got 1.4 (billion). That’s, uh, that’s a very small price to pay. Um, would they, is that the calculus in a nuclear exchange? You know, I, that one, I don’t think really applies because as you know–now, I won’t go too far into nuclear deterrent theory because, uh, it, my memory is old and dated–but there’s two, there’s two ways you target, uh, nuclear weapons: countervalue or counterforce. Um, countervalue is targeting the people. This is what Zhu Chenghu says. To just wipe out the population. And I’m talking to nuclear pre-1991 sense, right? And then counterforce is basically taking everything from the PLA up to the top of the command chain, the people who order the PLA, which is the leadership. And then you target that, uh, you know, that’s not west of Xi An.

David Stilwell: (45:58)

I mean, there’s bunkers and tunnels and all those concepts, but I’m sure the folks in the, what was our policy to PLA, it’s the Strategic Rocket Force now, have briefed the boss on that. This is how the Americans approach nuclear combat. And, uh, we would definitely be in, in, in you, the leadership, would be in the targeting plan. And is it worth it to you, uh, to, you know, be obliterated? And, you know, I think Mao would say no. I’m pretty sure the rest of the leadership would say no as well. So, that’s it. That’s everything I know about Chinese nuclear stuff, but I would just say that these things all add a deterrent pressure on the decision to turn keys and start launching nuclear, nuclear warfare. It’s capability. It’s, again, posturing. I just, I can’t imagine anybody actually seriously employing nukes over Taiwan.

Simone Gao: (46:54)

Okay. And the bottom line is, uh, America would not be intimidated by the Chinese using a nuclear weapon on any occasion. Because their calculation, I think, is once we use a nuclear weapon, America will be intimidated and will retreat.

David Stilwell: (47:12)

Oh boy, that’s not a good way. Look what happens. You attack the U.S. on December 7th or on 9/11/2001. And look what happens to the American population. You want, you want to unite the American population, attack it, right? Attack Americans, right? And, you know, we have a policy on that as far as, uh, responding, uh, that I think makes it a very bad calculus. But this thing, Simone, takes us to a completely different conversation, which we can do later but I just want to tee it up. Is this desire, this endless begging for dialogue, um, this need to, you know, and I think there’s value in having military leaders talk and, and, and, you know, laying out that, that that’d be a really bad course of action and you would be on the losing end, my friends in, in Beijing, but until they want to talk, it’s not worth even considering, you know, begging for dialogue, just sending Wendy Sherman or John Kerry to do a VTC in Tianjin tells you how much they value dialogue. 

David Stilwell: (48:16)

Um, they’re clearly not ready to talk. You know, our approach was we’re just going to fold our arms and continue to apply pressure, well-considered, but, but, you know, increasing pressure, knowing that there will come a point where they will want to talk and have, uh, and start working out, uh, some sort of an accommodation. Until that time, there’s no point in getting together and having a conversation because they’re just going to posture, grandstand, and do things that make them look better to their own domestic audience and to global audiences. And there’s no, I don’t think there’s a good outcome there.

Simone Gao: (48:48)

Hmm, okay. Last question. 

Simone Gao: (49:48)

You know, many people have, uh, you know, many people think that Xi Jinping has determined to solve the Taiwan problem during his tenure. And if, uh, I don’t know if you agree, but if you agree, uh, what do you think will be the timetable, most likely timetable for him? You know, people have been talking about 2049, 2035, even 2027. What’s your thoughts on those?

David Stilwell: (50:15)

Well, I think we’re all aware of Admiral Davidson’s statement that, you know, he’s looking at 2027. I think his successor in, you know, PACOM repeated that. Uh, I, I don’t think that statement’s based on intelligence, I think it’s based on, uh, the larger understanding of what Xi Jinping says. He says, this is not a problem. Taiwan is not a question I’m going to bequeath to the next generation. Basically saying, as you just said, I’m going to solve this on my watch. Um, so then I’ll point back to another historical example: the two centenary goals. One of those goals was that, um, uh, that they would accomplish this rejuvenation and this standing up of China’s as a well-respected global power by 2000, by the millennium. That was Mao’s goal. And when it became obvious that that was way too aggressive and optimistic, they slipped it to 2049, the hundred year anniversary of the establishment of the communist party.

David Stilwell: (51:06)

So, these…in a, in a situation where you control the information so tightly, as is the case in China, you can tell any story you want. I mean, read 1984 or watch the movie where Winston Smith, our hero, goes back and he, he cuts out historical statements that he doesn’t like and inserts new ones into the, the bound volumes of the newspapers. They can do that, too. Um, digression. There’s a great photo, and I gotta find it again. Early on in the pandemic, uh, there’s a headline at Global Times. It says the Wuhan virus is under control and there’s no problem here, or something like that. And then about a month later, after they realized that Wuhan virus meant the world is going to make sure that China owned this problem, because that’s where it came from. And after the language of COVID came out, they went back historically and changed something that was already archived online and changed it to say, instead of Wuhan virus, they changed it to say COVID-19. They are not, uh, um, allergic to playing those sorts of horrible 1984ish Orwellian games with their own people.

David Stilwell: (52:08)

So, they can manage the narrative inside China any way they want. And if they need to slip it 10 more years, or if 2027 is no longer the goal, then they create a narrative inside China that, that explains why they could blame somebody else for it. And then they drive on. So, yes, the timing is a concern, but to me they have proven many times that they won’t be bound by, uh, timelines. We’ve got four year or eight year election periods that we have to, if we really want to get something done, we have to get things done inside. Their, their timing is much more fungible than that.

Simone Gao: (52:41)

Hmm. All right. Okay. Well said, Dave. Anything else you want to add?

David Stilwell: (52:47)

I appreciate the chance to share these thoughts, though, because this question is, is growing and you could hear an increasing demand for it. So, what you’re doing here is really important.

Simone Gao: (52:55)

Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Stilwell. Thank you for coming to Zooming In today.

David Stilwell: (53:02)

You bet. My pleasure.

Simone Gao: (53:03)

Thank you. Alright. That’s it. Wonderful.

David Stilwell: (53:09)

Thank you.

Simone Gao: (53:09)

Happy. Uh, tomorrow is, uh, oh, yesterday is Veteran’s Day, right? 

(53:14)

Right. Yep.

That’s it for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China Chat. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this program if you like my content. As I have announced before, we are producing a documentary movie on Xi Jinping’s war over Taiwan. It will come out by the end of this year. Zooming In members will get an early view of this movie. Our website is zoomingin.tv. Also, I would like to let you know that our website is experiencing some technical problems right now that resulted in payment not being processable. Therefore, your membership might be automatically canceled. We are fixing this problem right now, and once it is fixed, I will send individual emails to every member so you can enroll again. Thanks, and I’ll see you next time.

Is Time on Xi Jinping’s Side over Taiwan? An Interview with Dave Stilwell

Simone Gao: (00:02)

Secretary Stilwell, thank you so much for joining Zooming In today. Okay. President Biden has repeatedly said the U.S. will protect Taiwan if China invades Taiwan, but, uh, each time either the White House or Secretary of Defense would then came out and, uh, declare that the U.S./China policy hasn’t changed. U.S. One China policy hasn’t changed. And that leaves people the impression that there’s still strategic ambiguity on the Taiwan Strait. So, is that the case? Still strategic ambiguity on Taiwan?

David Stilwell: (00:43)

Well, I think the president is reflecting, um, the just general sentiment about Americans’ values and trying to protect a democratic and free market system against hostility and, and, uh, you know, uh, aggression. Like a lot of us, you know, we all come to the Taiwan question, um, neophytes, you know, babes in arms, and it takes a while to understand all the ins and outs of the Taiwan Relations Act, the Six Assurances and all those things. And that’s something a president has a hard time, I mean any president has a hard time, uh, you know, taking on and memorizing. So, I think what you’re seeing is from the highest level of American leadership, a commitment to respond to aggression, uh, and to defend those things that share values like democratic and, and a free market system. Uh, and what you’re doing here, um, and what you’ve been doing, I think in, in showing the contrast between what the mainland provides and what, uh, Taiwan stands for, uh, is enormously important.

David Stilwell: (01:46)

And so, I would take the president’s words, uh, you know–and here’s a chance to maybe add some clarity here–take the president’s words as a general statement of sentiment by the, uh, by the U.S. on the Taiwan question. And then, and then the walk backs, I think, are more, you know, again, they do contribute to the ambiguity, which in my mind is helpful. Some people don’t agree. Uh, but you saw Secretary Blinken. He also made a fairly strong statement today about the U.S. commitment, uh, to like-minded and, and commitment to peaceful resolution. I mean, that’s the basis of all this, uh, the agreement with PRC, is this, this, uh, question of Taiwan would be resolved peacefully through dialogue, without coercion or use of force. That we stand very strong on. Does that help? Does that make sense?

Simone Gao: (02:33)

Yeah, I understand, uh, where you come from. But, you know, people have been talking about different scenarios in the cross-strait relations. And one scenario they’ve been talking about is not like just like a whole invasion on Taiwan, but, for example, a takeover or invasion on the proudest island. If that happens, how, how do you think the U.S. will react?

David Stilwell: (03:00)

Well, you make a very good point, and this is the problem with red lines, by the way. If you, if you get away from, uh, a policy of, uh, ambiguity, uh, you then put yourself into a corner. And if..you know, the PRC has proven itself time and again willing to use that tactic. I mean, again, the South China Sea island building campaign, uh, and the 2015 commitment not to militarize the islands, while at the same time militarizing the islands, shows you one, PRC does not keep its word, doesn’t believe in contracts. It believes, uh, treaties and other things are scraps of paper. And two, it shows you that they would prefer this incremental approach that avoids any direct conflict that could lead to a much greater escalation. You know, they’re, they’re, they’re not very confident in how that might go. So, a direct attack on Taiwan, uh, or any other, uh, area of, uh, uh, significant American interest.

David Stilwell: (03:56)

I mean, look what they’re doing on the border with India. Uh, any attacks like this, um, uh, I think, uh, carry too much risk. Where they believe, in what we’ve seen historically, is this just gradual, you know, put a toe over a line, this gradualism, incrementalism. Uh, it’s very difficult to make a decision. Which grain of sand that they put down on the South China Sea reach, which grain of sand was going to be reason enough for the Americans go to war? And the answer is when you’re very slow and incremental like that, it makes a decision to respond very difficult. That’s the approach they take. Uh, and then your question about, you know, outer islands or other things, you know, uh, that, you know, would, uh, damage the economy. Uh, I mean, any number of things, not necessarily directly related, related to combat conflict, uh, are all very much in, uh, the PRC’s, um, you know, you know, M.O., their, their modus operandi.

Simone Gao: (04:55)

Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, in the end, how would the U.S. respond to a situation like that? If they take the proudest island, will the U.S. act or just let it take it because that’s not the mainland of Taiwan?

David Stilwell: (05:12)

I think you saw I’m a big fan of ambiguity. And, uh, again, I’m just a citizen now. I don’t carry any authority here, but I do think that, uh, showing your hand, exposing what you might do early on–some say, that’s a good way of deterring them saying, “Hey, if, if you, if you do that, we’re gonna, you know, respond overwhelmingly.” I think there’s probably merit to that. Uh, but how many of those…uh, Xiamen, right? I mean, um, Jinmen. Any one of these, um, small islands. The Penghus. You can think of endless what-ifs here. And, as I learned in diplomacy, never answer a hypothetical. Uh, you know, so you don’t want to get into this what-if. You want to talk in bigger terms, in terms of principle, uh, and then, uh, another great conversation to have is deterrence. And what you’re describing here is a bilateral, U.S. versus China, um, problem.

David Stilwell: (06:05)

And that was the case for quite a while, but when the deputy, uh, defense minister of Japan, uh, uh, Tarō Asō came on and he says, “Nope, we too find this would be a, uh, important or critical national interest,” uh, because now the, uh, Senkakus are involved, or other issues related to Taiwan that create access problems for Japan. So, now it’s not just the U.S. versus the PRC, it’s the U.S. and Japan versus the PRC. You’ve also seen Europe, the UK, the French, increasingly the Germans, NATO, uh, more and more, Australia, others are also coming in and saying, uh, you know, “we hear the language coming out of Beijing. We, we notice there’s the saber-rattling and threats of aggression. And, uh, we are not going to put up with this.” I think that’s a great outcome. I do think that is enough to make Beijing think twice. So long as that, that threat remains credible.

Simone Gao: (07:00)

Okay. Yeah. I mean, uh, what do they mean exactly? We’re not going to put up with this. I mean, would they, would they, you know, protect Taiwan without the U.S. if U.S. is being slow? Would they take the initiative like Japan and Australia?

David Stilwell: (07:17)

I think Japan has demonstrated…now, they still are under Article Nine of their own constitution that says that they, uh, you know, war is, uh, uh, they, they renounce the use of war as a policy decision. And that’s, that’s okay, but, uh, it’s a self-defense force. And if they determined that any of these issues affect their own national defense, then you could see how that might trigger their ability to employ the, uh, self-defense force, uh, to defend itself. Uh, I’ll let you talk to Japanese experts about what their calculus is. The fact that the U.S. and Japan have a very strong alliance, in my mind the strongest alliance in the region. 50,000 American, uh, folks posted there. And you can see some of the art here, uh, you know, six years, uh, the Stilwell family being posted in Japan, very, uh, productively and happily.

David Stilwell: (08:09)

Uh, I think, uh, that the language coming out of both Washington and Tokyo is, uh, significant in deterring military adventurism. Now, here’s where the conversation really needs to go. The Chinese government, Beijing, wants us to narrow this conversation down to invasion scenarios on Taiwan. Very specific and, I think in their mind, an area where they carry at least some advantage. Uh, you know, that question, the calculus advantage, uh, might be possible if you’re talking about only the PRC and the U.S. But when you add allies and partners, then there’s no real conversation there. But they want us to speak on that. On invasion scenarios and all that stuff. Uh, where we have greater advantage, uh, is not in the East China Sea or the South China Sea but in other allies and partners, uh, in the region. Again, uh, again, India is its own being.

David Stilwell: (09:05)

They still are very much in their non-aligned world. But what’s going on on the shared border there, uh, has empowered things like the quad–India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.–and made that a very viable, uh, um, organization, uh, orchestrate, whatever you want to call it. So, the quad is useful. The quad is another area where it’s multilateralized. My, my point here is, now I’m focused on the military. Let’s look at the economy. There are so many things that we could do that we’re not doing to, uh, get the Chinese companies who operate basically without any audit, um, requirements in our own economic system. And just to say that that’s not useful anymore. Now we’re moving in that direction, and we’re moving at deliberate pace. We could move a lot faster and just say, those companies are no longer allowed to list. Uh, there’s economic. There’s political things we could do.

David Stilwell: (09:56)

And there’s some really important information things we can do where, like the president, our messaging becomes more clear, uh, and, um, and combined with our allies and partners. Uh, again, as a strong message, not just to Beijing but to the Chinese people as well, that this is not something you want to pursue. Leveraging nationalism is a terrible idea. We know that from history. We see them trying to do that here. Uh, we need to tell them it’s not, that’s the direction they don’t want to go. Let me tell you a quick story on nationalism. In 1999, uh, an American bomber, uh, incorrectly, um, without intent but just made a mistake, ended up hitting the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. You can understand that the PRC could interpret that in one of many ways, but one thing they did was they encouraged Chinese people to attack American diplomatic, uh, functions in Beijing.

David Stilwell: (10:45)

And you remember the picture of the ambassador peering out through a broken window, uh, in the embassy compound in ’99. What’s interesting is they, they did stroke nationalism and got the Chinese people all riled up about this thing. It didn’t take very long–a day, maybe two–where those people, very angry, turned toward Tiananmen, which was just down the street, turn toward the Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound, and then begin to vent their anger toward the government and not necessarily toward the Americans any longer. This happens time and time again. So, uh, that’s something, um, we should consider is if they do start using that nationalism, nationalist tool, it has a history in China of backfiring.

Simone Gao: (11:28)

Right, right. Talking about that. There’s another example, you know, uh, the nationalism thing doesn’t work in Taiwan. Um, now the popular opinion has changed the drastically in Taiwan, uh, because, um, you know, towards the, the popular opinion has changed drastically in Taiwan towards the CCP. Uh, I mean, a majority of the Taiwanese people would not the one country, two system solution. And so if that’s the case, then the peaceful unification seems to be out of the question right now. So if shooting being really determined, it has determined to solve the Taiwan problem during his tenure. How do you think he will do it?

David Stilwell: (12:13)

Um, I think the, in history supports this, sorry about that. So I think history, sports, this, the, um, tendency, and I think it’s a good one, uh, is to wait, uh, unless there’s a problem that absolutely has to be solved right now. It’s always better to wait. And the example I use is, um, in North Korea is one I’m trying to

Simone Gao: (12:41)

Pink’s point of

David Stilwell: (12:42)

View. Yes. But I’m talking to interested in generic terms as well for any, uh, national strategy, any system, strategic level, decision-making, uh, it doesn’t help to just jump into things. Sometimes you have to write a world trade centers attack. You can’t stand for that. You need to act right now, pre-harvest deck, you have to act, but most things of this nature you don’t have to, you can, you know, as we say in the flying world, you can just sit back, wind your watch, take a breath, assess, and then think of the best response. And I’ll think of the example here in a second, but, you know, I, I use it as two points. You know, this is like the American position, and this is the position of some other country. And as you look at it from this distance, you’re going, it is impossible that we could ever get to a point where we agree on something.

David Stilwell: (13:28)

Well, let’s use France as an example, um, for the longest time, the French for it. Um, it worked almost against us interests, you know, in the sixties and seventies as nationalism and a bunch of other issues. But I remember seeing a video of a French ref foul launching off of a U S aircraft carrier, uh, during the Libya campaign. And the difference in those two things was time, you know, in the sixties and seventies, we were here and here and that bridging that gap between the us and New Zealand and France was very difficult, you know, but with time you, you, your perspective backs off and, and you move away and those points get closer and closer together. And then bridging that problem is a much easier thing to do. So time is a, uh, uh, is a really wonderful tool and you have to be patient enough to use it.

David Stilwell: (14:17)

And I think that’s what the PRC has done quite well. Frankly, over time is to take advantage of this time factor to wait until conditions get better, where they can, uh, as they say, win without fighting, uh, this book here, if, uh, your readers are interested, I find very useful. It talks a lot about the Taiwan situation scenario. Um, and again, it’s, it’s all available online. You can just read it on a PDF online. So the title is that is winning without fighting. So let me quote you a, uh, something from Andrew Erickson that just came out today, uh, responding to the Chinese military power report that came out of DOD. And he says, she thinks preference is almost certainly to use a mounting impression of overwhelming mite, uh, to intimidate the U S and its allies into faltering policies that enable their intervention and cross straight, you know, friction, uh, to a degree that ultimately erodes the resolving credibility. Uh, and cowing, Taiwan’s populous leadership into Equis and acquiescing to its demand. Um,

David Stilwell: (15:24)

They wanna basically message us and say, this is how powerful we are, and, and we’re going to do this. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, we haven’t reached that point yet, and they know that so time is working on their behalf. I mean, sighing one contrary to what they say has been very careful in, in her statements, in her words, she has made it very clear that she’s not going to give them the excuse to attack. And all of these things say both sides are doing what they can to manage this problem, to prevent an immediate attack. Now, some people are more, um, pessimistic about it. Some people think it’s going to happen sooner than later. Again, if I’m sitting in Beijing right now with all the economic issues, with a massive real estate debt, uh, with Enos canter and the, uh, Boston Celtics, no longer being deterred about saying what everybody actually knows and believes about how the conditions, human rights conditions in China, you know, with the Trump administration did with the, uh, uh, declaration of genocide in St. John, all these things work in our advantage. Can we hold for one second while these guys finish up this nice.

Simone Gao: (16:28)

Yeah. This is a crazy thing.

Speaker 3: (16:48)

[inaudible]

David Stilwell: (16:57)

Three to either ask that question again. Cause my next response will go more toward Hong Kong.

Simone Gao: (17:03)

Yes. If

David Stilwell: (17:04)

You ask that question again, I can. So we’re talking about other, other, you know, people finding their voice and all that stuff, but I grew up, we’d really like to talk about the Hong Kong.

Simone Gao: (17:15)

Uh, yeah, let me just ask this question one more time. Okay. You know, the popular opinion in Taiwan and towards CCP has changed the dramatically. The vast majority of the Taiwan needs people would not accept one country, two system solution. So it seems like the, you know, the one country, two system, uh, solution. I mean, so it seems like the peaceful unification was Taiwan is out of the question right now in that case. Uh, how do you think, uh, shooting ping will solve this problem if he really wants to do it during his tenure?

David Stilwell: (18:00)

I don’t think the Beijing believes it’s necessarily out of the question. Uh, anybody who’s been to Taiwan, I think, uh, has, and, and the key factor here is of course, Hong Kong, you know, both fell under the one country, two systems rubric. In fact, I believe that the initial use of that, that term was related not to Hong Kong, but to Taiwan, if you remember 2018 elections. So on the KMT woman dong one big, uh, and there was large concern that in 2020 it would, uh, sign one would be gone. And the, uh, the game T candidate would win. And something big happened between those two events now as Hong Kong and the PRC said it was no longer going to live up to its commitment and the joint declaration with the UK and other things. And so I don’t, I can’t think of anything that could skew an entire populous. So strongly go ahead.

Simone Gao: (19:01)

Okay. You know, the popular opinion in Taiwan towards the CCP has changed drastically. Uh, you know, uh, a vast majority of the Taiwanese people do not approve the one country, two system solution anymore. So, if that’s the case, uh, the peaceful unification seems to be out of the question right now. If Xi Jinping really wanted to do this, accomplish this unification, uh, task, how do you think he will do it?

David Stilwell: (19:37)

Well, he has only himself to blame for, uh, the sentiment in Taiwan. The 2018 elections, as you remember, uh, went very strong in the direction of the Kuomintang who take, uh, an approach, uh, like the, um, uh, the pro-establishment folks in, uh, Hong Kong, Regina Ip and the like. They take a position that it’s better to work a deal with the PRC and come to some sort of accommodation. We all know that the Chinese will not uphold, the PRC won’t uphold, its side of that bargain, but that’s their approach is rather than risk something like war, I think the KMT side believes that working a deal might be the best outcome. And that made sense, in a way, in 2018, uh, but in 2019, the PRC’s really heavy handling, heavy-handed handling, of Hong Kong and legitimate protests about the eroding autonomy, uh, made the elections in January 2020 a no-brainer.

David Stilwell: (20:31)

And so, uh, you saw Tsai won and DPP won that, uh, second term quite easily. So, Beijing has no one to blame but itself for a very tactical victory in Hong Kong, by shutting down the protests that were embarrassing Beijing. You know, the narrative was that Hong Kong is going great and they love China and on, and being associated. The reality was we really don’t want any more, you know, communism here. We’d like to, you know, be, uh, autonomous as we agreed to for 50 years. And, and so they handled that problem, a short-term problem, but they created a much larger problem for themselves with Taiwan, because now that, like you say, nobody in Taiwan, with any sense, believes that, uh, this one country, two systems agreement is ever going to work in their favor. They see their future looking a lot like Taiwan with the national security law, uh, the basically dismissal of any, uh, Democrats, pan-Dems, in the LegCo, et cetera. So, um, this is a lesson for Beijing is, you know, uh, actions have consequences. You know, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, and in politics that works as well. That, that was not a smart move. They could have handled Hong Kong a lot better.

Simone Gao: (21:41)

Yeah. So, if that’s the case, what options are left for Xi Jinping if he wants to solve this problem?

David Stilwell: (21:48)

Well, I’ll go back to that time statement, um, time. And what’s the, what’s the, um, penalty, what’s the cost of waiting? Um, if you believe that the status quo is, you know, basically stable, then time is your friend. You can wait until conditions get better, uh, to address this problem. Again, maybe, maybe something happens in Taiwan, maybe the narrative on, on the PRC improves. There’s no…dealing with my, uh, PLA counterparts, a couple of things really stood out. In, in, in, in my growing up, uh, you know, my world was very black and white. You either made a decision or you didn’t make a decision. And if you didn’t make a decision, as a military leader, you were declared indecisive and, and of little use. You know, in our system, we need decisive leaders who can, uh, react and advance, take the initiative and all that stuff.

David Stilwell: (22:41)

Well, in their system, there’s a third option. That third option is just choose not to decide. Um, and you’re not considered, you’re not being criticized for not making a decision. In fact, everybody sees that as the safest outcome is delaying a decision until the time is better to make a decision. Because if you’re wrong, if you make a bad decision, then you can be criticized and removed from power. I think this deters, um, the thing that most of us fear might happen in, in with, with respect to Taiwan is that, you know, all those other aspects of messing with the economy and injecting itself into politics, political warfare, the book I just showed you, and to stirring up, uh, problems in dissent inside democracies, messing with the media. These things are all relatively cost-free because we are not fighting on those battlegrounds.

David Stilwell: (23:30)

We’re not responding in kind to their economic warfare at us. We should, and I think we’re starting to do so. Um, but they know that we could respond, and we probably would respond, respond in kind in any sort of military, uh, aggression or an attack. So, what’s wrong with continuing to work in the economic, information, political, diplomatic sphere, and letting that do its work and keeping that military option for the very, very end when you have no other choice. Our job is to keep them from concluding that they have no other choice and can’t delay that decision, because that decision, as we used to say in flying fighters, it’s a life-changing decision. Once you make that one, there’s an outcome and there’s no middle ground. You’re going to win, or you’re going to lose. And I don’t think Beijing wants to make that, that roll the dice on that.

Simone Gao: (24:17)

Hmm. Okay. Uh, am I understanding this right? You think the time is on Beijing’s side?

David Stilwell: (24:24)

Oh, I didn’t say that. No, I, I, what I’m saying, though, is that it’s not, it’s not against them. It’s neither for them or against them. Um, and I, I mentioned status quo earlier. Some people would say that the situation with Taiwan has hit stasis, right? It’s pretty much stable. Others would say that the longer that Taiwan remains removed and independent–not independent, distant–from Beijing, so long as it remains democratic, and as long as it remains a free market and not being run and just dictated to by Beijing, the longer that happens, the further, uh, the two drift apart. Uh, I’m not going to, you know, pitch in on one side or the other. Um, but I do believe that Beijing sees the stasis, the fact that things are relatively stable, as to its advantage. And I think Taipei sees it to its advantage. Nothing wrong with that. Both sides feel like they’re winning. There’s no need to take, uh, unfortunate steps.

Raymond Arroyo Talks About His New Book, Restoring Faith in America and the Christmas Tradition

Simone Gao: (00:02)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In with Simone Gao. Have you ever wondered why tinsels and sometimes spiders are part of your Christmas tree decoration? Today, you are going to find out. Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Lead Anchor and Fox News contributor, is going to share with me his new children’s book, The Spider Who Saved Christmas. It is a beautifully illustrated book that tells a touching story about the message of Christmas, the origin of the spider decoration, and it helps to illustrate just how important the Christmas tradition is to the world. Take a listen.

Simone Gao: (00:42)

Raymond, thank you very much for joining Zooming In today. 

Raymond Arroyo: (00:46)

Happy to do it. 

Simone Gao: (00:47)

Okay. I know you just had a new book out, The Spider Who Saved Christmas. I have to confess among all the Christmas legends, I have never heard about the spider story. So, can you first tell us how you found the story and what’s the origin of it? 

Raymond Arroyo: (01:03)

Well, you are not alone. I had gone my whole life and had never heard this story, but when I was traveling in Eastern Europe, I realized on many of their trees, they obviously put a ton of tinsel on those trees but on the branches, they often have these little spiders, little spider ornaments. And I couldn’t figure out why, everywhere I went in Eastern Europe, there were these spider ornaments in a tree. I thought maybe it was just a hold over from Halloween or some local tradition. Well, it turns out both the tinsel and the spiders come from this legend. And it was many years later where I was researching another book and I found a very slight citation at the end of one of these big, thick Bible commentaries. And it simply said, there is a legend of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus hiding in a cave. 

Raymond Arroyo: (01:54)

And they encountered this spider who performs an important service to them. That’s all it said. So I went and researched this old legend, dug it up, and I’ve kind of expanded it a bit, because it was very spare, and added some characterization. And I, I think it’s one of the most beautiful stories of the Christmas season, because you never hear this part of the story. Whenever you think Christmas or the birth of Jesus, you think, you know, the stable and the wise men and the star. We never think about this part of the story, which is right after the birth, when the family has to take everything they have and they run to Egypt. And in my story, they’re hiding in a cave for their lives, fearing that these guards are going to come in and kill them. And part of the reason I think the story has resonated so deeply with people now is because in this COVID lockdown period, so many people, so many families have been hiding in their caves trying to protect each other and the moral at the heart of this story is if you have enough faith and you have the love of family, there is great hope there and the light will eventually reveal itself. And I think that’s resonated a lot with the people.

Simone Gao: (03:12)

Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s a very touching story and, uh, I can tell you really put your heart into writing it. And I think with children’s stories, there’s a certain gentleness and pureness in it that that can touch people’s heart and soul, not just for children but for adults as well. I read the book. Yeah. I read the book, and I love it. So yeah, you, you already told me what you want to bring to the world with this wonderful story. Um, do you want to, I mean, the other question I have is, uh, you know, is this the first time you write like a children’s story or you write children’s story often?

Raymond Arroyo: (03:50)

Well, you know, when I had my own children, we, uh, we would read them the classics, all the books I loved growing up: Treasure Island and Jungle Book and, and, uh, uh, you know, all those great, uh, the old Harry Potter books, everything we read to our kids, the Lord of the Rings. And we sort of ran out of material. So, I began writing a middle-grade series, sort of my Harry Potter, it’s called the Will Wilder series for Random House. And, um, I wrote three of those books, I’m working on the fourth. But, so that was kind of my introduction to young audiences, but this is the first picture book that I’ve written. Now, I’m continuing to write others. But, uh, The Spider Who Saved Christmas was my first, and I wanted it to be a family read. And that’s what it’s become, where grandparents and parents are reading it to children and nieces and nephews. 

Raymond Arroyo: (04:38)

And they’re sharing the experience together. And, like you, so many of these families, like me, they’d never heard this story before. So, it’s a kind of new way to enter into the reality of the Christmas story. Um, it grounds you in the supernatural wonder of it. And, and the spider becomes a great vehicle for kids to, uh, sort of go along this path. And it does bring up a host of questions that usually you don’t encounter in the normal recitation of the nativity. So, I’m delighted that it’s getting families to refocus on the true mystery, the divine glory and the supernatural quality of, and the danger that surrounded this family at Christmas time, because I think that’s the reality for so many families.

Simone Gao: (05:29)

Right. It is a simple story, but it does have drama in it. And the illustration is wonderful. I love those golden webs. 

Raymond Arroyo: (05:36)

Yeah, no, we worked a long time. Randy Gallegos, who’s the illustrator, and I worked very hard at, uh, creating dramatic, uh, spreads, dramatic illustrations. And Randy paints everything in oil by hand. And I think that shows that human touch. He doesn’t use digital, uh, effects or, or, um, you know, draw digitally. He does it all by hand, and it has that old world feel that I thought the story needed because it’s an old story. This is a story that goes back to the second century, but I love that it also explains, and for children, it’s a, it’s an eye-opener, this is why people decorate their trees with tinsel. It’s not to replicate icicles. It is a, uh, tinsel is an homage to this story. So, in some ways it’s the origin story of tinsel, which makes a neat connection, I think, for families and kids. 

Simone Gao: (06:30)

Yeah, exactly. You know, unfortunately Christmas is under attack in America today. Uh, I know Christmas is very important to you, but can you also tell us how important Christmas is to this country as well? 

Raymond Arroyo: (06:46)

Well, look, I think it’s the central mystery of mankind. I mean, for Christians, uh, the, the axis upon which all of human history spins is the coming of Christ. The God-made man. And look, it’s a bold concept. And, uh, uh, if God came as a little baby at this moment in history, not only did he inspire revolutions and kingdoms, love and war, all of that is bound up in the birth of this child. So, it’s worth pondering, it’s worth considering. And I think, um, in America, we’ve gotten so far away from that essential mystery and the wonder of it. And we get bombarded by reindeer and snowmen and buying and eating and selling that we lose that reality of love and wonder and divinity among us. And I think this story, at least I tried in The Spider Who Saved Christmas, to remind young families and older families of that mystery. 

Raymond Arroyo: (07:54)

And, you know, children’s literature has a way of awakening the child in us, the young at heart. It calls all of us, um, to that, that sense of awe. And I wanted that in this story, and I think it’s resonated. I mean, I had a little girl come up to me–I was in a bookstore and a family recognized me and came over and brought the book and she asked me to sign it. And the little child was no more than four or five. And she said, I said, well, “why do you, why do you like this book?” Her grandmother told me she’d read it to her repeatedly. She kept asking about it, uh, you know, asking her to read it over and over, uh, last year. And they’re going to do it again this year. And I said, “why do you like this story so much?” 

Raymond Arroyo: (08:32)

And she said, “because I’m like that spider. A lot of people at school, they make fun of me. They tell me I’m not good and I don’t have anything to offer.” She said, “but like that spider, I know I have my little gift and I’m going to give it to God.” And I thought, you know, if, if no one else ever read the book, I’ve achieved what I wanted to, because it touched that child in a special way. Gave her the courage to go on and know she has a gift that’s all her own that, uh, the world is waiting for. And I think that’s true of all of us. 

Simone Gao: (09:04)

Wow, this is such a touching story. Almost brings tears to my eyes. So, I mean, did you say the book is already in the bookstore last year? 

Raymond Arroyo: (09:14)

Yes. It came out last year. We were on the New York Times list for five weeks. So, we’re kind of doing a reboot, because I’m going on a book tour. I couldn’t last year. So, I’m going on a book tour, visiting six cities, uh, in the next few weeks and starting this week in Tampa, Florida, this weekend. And then I’m going to Houston and Dallas and New Orleans and Mesa, Arizona, Jupiter, uh, Florida. So, we’ve got a lot of stops, and I’m looking forward to meeting everybody and, you know, sharing my insight on what’s happening today. Some stories about the book, the background of the story, and signing their books. So, uh, it, it, that’s a gift to me as much as it is the other way around. 

Simone Gao: (09:56)

Right, right. Are you coming to California? 

Raymond Arroyo: (09:58)

Not this time. Mesa, Arizona, is as close as I’m going to get. Uh, and a part of that is some of the bookstores weren’t quite open yet and willing to host events. So, we could only go where the stores could accommodate us. 

Simone Gao: (10:11)

Yeah. Yeah. You have, uh, the COVID mandate is very strict. 

Raymond Arroyo: (10:14)

Yeah, the mandates and the lockdowns are still in place in some places. So, that’s restricted me. You know, I wanted to go to Michigan, I wanted to go to California, there are other places I would have liked to have gone, but, uh, they’re not hosting in-store events. So, uh, we’re doing six of them, and maybe that’s enough for now. I can always start up the engines, get on my sleigh and go out next year. 

Simone Gao: (10:38)

Yes. This is an ongoing thing. 

Raymond Arroyo: (10:39)

Yeah. 

Simone Gao: (10:40)

You know, Raymond, we’re in a crossroads right now, and many people feel this world is sliding into a dark place. COVID, inflation, weak economy, communists’ and socialists’ influence and infiltration, danger of war. Things are not good. And yet people do not know if we can get back on the right track again. So, what’s your thought on this? How should people deal with a world like this? And, uh, do you think America can become the shining city upon the hill once again? 

Raymond Arroyo: (11:11)

Well, I, I think, look, you have to…hope springs eternal. And I think particularly at Christmas time, we have to kind of put politics on the back burner and focus on the things that really matter. Part of the reason that I write for children is I’m looking at the long game here. Uh, when you look at fourth grade reading levels, when 67% of fourth graders are not at a competent reading level, the implications of that are horrible. Um, it leads to incarceration and, uh, dependency on welfare, a whole host of problems come from something as simple as reading competency in fourth grade. So, we have a very small window between birth and fourth grade to really excite these kids about reading and literacy and, and the adventure of reading. Because if you, if you learn to enter a book and you learn to enter the world of a book, it creates critical thinking. Your, your imagination is triggered. 

Raymond Arroyo: (12:11)

But if you, if you aren’t reading, that whole world closes to you. And not only do their stories end, but our story as a people ends. So, I think we have to focus on family, um, spending time with those who really need our help, literacy programs. I always tell retirees, you have the time. Volunteer at a local school or library, read to kids. That little half hour could make the difference, uh, between a lifeline being thrown to those young children or not. Um, so I try to focus on the things we can do each day. Politics, particularly federal politics, are so far removed from our influence, but local politics, school boards, those are the things, your local community, you can affect that, you can change that. And I think if we’d begin there, then those other things will, in time, take care of themselves or not, but it’s up to us. And I always say, do the thing you can do now. And that begins in your family, your community, your state. And once you, once you feel you’ve got a handle on that, then worry about the national politics. But we all run to the global and economic, you know, macroeconomics. You have very little impact on that. So do I. So, we have to really focus on the things that we can change and make better. And start there. 

Simone Gao: (13:33)

This question is a little bit off the track, but I’m just curious. You are a man of faith, and the foundation of this country is also faith, but right now Christianity is under attack. And, uh, how do you think faith could be restored in America? 

Raymond Arroyo: (13:50)

Well, there’s always hope. There’s always hope. And look, I think you, you look at these downturns, you look at these moments of despair. I mean, when I see inflation on the rise and you see these supply chain problems, there’s a flip side to this, and the flip side is people spend less, they spend more time together. You know, God may have other plans here that are unfolding, at times through painful circumstances. So, you have to be open to that as well. Not that you want to have people suffer or be in terrible circumstances, but sometimes that’s the step to true growth and, and something really positive and wonderful happening. So, we have to be open to that. But, um, your point is well taken, and I think if you read Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, John Adams, many of the founders, this entire experiment in Republican representative government, democracy, was predicated on a couple of things: a moral people and an informed people. 

Raymond Arroyo: (14:54)

And I worry that we’re losing both of those. And that’s part of what I, why I write for children. You want them to be literate. You want them to be informed. You want them to be engaged citizens, and you can’t have engaged citizens if people can’t read. Similarly, you, you can’t have a moral people unless they are reading and engaged. So, these things often go hand-in-hand. But, yeah, I hope, I hope that these circumstances will create a situation where we see a reflowering of faith, people dependent on God and on each other instead of the government and some foreign entity for their care and wellbeing. Um, so that may be a good side benefit of this, you know, of the pain and the awful things we’re seeing around us. That you see a rediscovery of faith, because that will lead to a moral people and that will lead to better government, better outcomes, uh, you know, in the political and global sphere.

Simone Gao: (15:51)

Well said. Last question. Any tips for parents who are shopping for Christmas presents for their children this year?  

Raymond Arroyo: (15:59)

Yeah, well, obviously I’m going to be self-serving. Uh, if you have a middle-grader, uh, somebody who likes those chapter books and something you can read together as generations, the Will Wilder series is a great read. And, of course, The Spider Who Saves Christmas is a wonderful story that I think will enrich your family traditions. And I built it so that it could be read on two levels. You can read it as a child, and you can read it as an adult. Um, and you’ll both find something slightly different there. I think all good children’s literature works on those two levels, because there’s only so much…you know, a child will enjoy the ride and the foreground, the adult is going to see the shadows and the movements beneath the surface and the sharing of the, the experience. I’ve got letters here on my desk that, you know, the grandparents and kids interacting. That shared experience is as important, or more important, than the story they’re sharing. So, I would encourage them, yes, go and get good stories. I hope you read mine, but most importantly, share it together. Take the time to read it together. Give yourselves the gift of each other and the wisdom of childhood and the wisdom of old age so you can share those experiences. That’s how we progress as a people and as a culture. 

Simone Gao: (17:17)

Right. Wonderful. I’m going to get my family a copy as well. The Spider Who Saved Christmas by Raymond Arroyo. Thank you, Raymond, for coming to Zooming In today. Best luck to your book and hope to talk to you very soon again. 

Raymond Arroyo: (17:32)

Thank you. Thanks so much for the time. 

Simone Gao: (17:34)

Thank you. 

Raymond Arroyo: (17:35)

And Merry Christmas. 

Simone Gao: (17:36)

Oh, Merry Christmas to you, too. 

Simone Gao: (17:39)

This concludes our program for today. Please like, share and subscribe to our channel if you like our production. I would also like to make an announcement. We are producing a documentary movie right now, Xi Jinping’s War on Taiwan, a lot of unique content dives right into the heart of China’s behind-the-door politics. Experts from mainland China, Taiwan, and America. I will update you with our progress very often. Thanks again. And I’ll see you next time.

Will Beijing Attack Taiwan Sooner Than We Thought? Interview With James Fanell, Part 1

Simone Gao: (00:02)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China Chat. I’m Simone Gao. 150 Chinese fighter jets entered the southwest airspace recognition zone of Taiwan during the National Holiday of China two weeks ago, the most in the past 40 years. Taiwan’s defense minister said this is the most dangerous time for Taiwan. Would Xi Jinping really decide to invade Taiwan? Are the Taiwanese military and the U.S. military prepared for such a scenario? I had these discussions with James Fanell, former senior intelligence officer for China at the Office of Naval Intelligence and the chief of intelligence for CTF-70, 7th Fleet and the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Take a listen. 

Simone Gao: (00:56)

Thank you, James, for joining Zooming In China today. 

James Fanell: (01:00)

Thank you for the invitation, Simone. 

Simone Gao: (01:03)

Okay. Let’s talk about the possible war on the Taiwan Strait. First of all, the Taiwan defense minister recently said the People’s Liberation Army already has the capability to attack Taiwan right now, but they have to consider the cost. By 2025, their cost of invading Taiwan would drop to the lowest. What do you make of it? Can you explain what he meant exactly? 

James Fanell: (01:30)

Well, I think that the defense minister was, uh, specifically referring to, um, what I characterize as the decade of concern, which is based upon the, uh, the facts that who’s in town and Xi Jinping had ordered, uh, the PLA to be ready to have the capability to militarily invade Taiwan starting as early as 2020. And I think at that point in 2020, uh, Xi had assessed that they have a modicum of a capability to conduct an invasion, uh, but they would like to be able to continue their modernization efforts as well as their, uh, comprehensive national power to use, uh, political warfare, information warfare, economic warfare, to continue to try to wear down, uh, the people of Taiwan and the leadership of the current administration, uh, to, uh, capitulate essentially. And so I think part of the calculus also is the strength of the United States resolve and where their capabilities will be. 

James Fanell: (02:44)

And so I think, uh, somewhere around mid-decade, what I call the decade of concern, because we all pretty much–not all, but I–believe that by 2030, China will have to make a decision whether or not to use military force or not. And so I think around 2025 will be a decision time, uh, for the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the PLA. And I think they’ll be looking for, as you know, there’ll be an election, uh, in, uh, November of 2024 for president. And if, if for some reason, uh, Trump or somebody like Trump were to come back into power, uh, Beijing would know then that they would have, uh, you know, basically no time in, in, in response because of a new administration would take much greater, presumably greater, actions to confront China than maybe we see right now.

Simone Gao: (03:41)

Right. Although 2024 is already very near, very close to now, but people are even worried about right now, you know, even before the 20th Party Congress, which is going to happen in 2022. So, you think right now there’s, I mean, what’s the possibility of having a war right now, before 2022? 

James Fanell: (04:03)

It’s very difficult to, uh, precisely determine when the PLA and the PRC would launch an invasion. Uh, and my personal assessment is it’s unlikely that Beijing would want to launch an invasion before their hosting of the Olympic games in 2022 and before the, uh, Party Congress, as you mentioned, uh, in later, in the fall of 2022. That said, it is still entirely possible, uh, that, uh, Xi and the Party could make the determination that now was the best time. As we know, in America in 2022, we will have mid-term elections and if a strong showing from a party like the Republicans, it’s possible that there could be, uh, more emphasis put on pressuring the Biden administration to take much more, uh, strong, uh, overt responses to Chinese action. So, again, these are timelines that are very difficult to determine, but my sense is is that, uh, they’re going to want to continue to at least, uh, enjoy the presence of the world’s attention for the Olympics. 

James Fanell: (05:16)

Even though they’ve now said they’re not going to have spectators. So, this announcement this last week that Beijing will not have spectators at the Olympics, uh, was a little bit of an interesting twist for me, uh, because it could mean that China possibly is preparing for something even before, or during, the Beijing Olympics. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s entirely possible. And what we’re seeing from the PLA in terms of operational readiness training with these, uh, high amount of exercises this summer and fall and the air incursions that we’ve seen over the PRC’s 1 October Day celebrations, uh, those were very dramatic, but I’d remind folks, those were just tip of an iceberg in terms of the total capacity of the PLA Air Force and PLA Navy. 

Simone Gao: (06:04)

Right, right. Um, I just want to go back to, uh, the Taiwan defense minister, uh, a little bit. So he said right now, the PLA already has the initial capability to attack Taiwan. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that, uh, you know, the PLA has the ability to attack Taiwan and the ability to fend off U.S. aid? What does that mean exactly? 

James Fanell: (06:31)

Well, I think we know that the PLA has a strategy for conducting an invasion of Taiwan, and it’s composed of various elements. Clearly, they will be using their new Strategic Support Force to conduct, uh, cyber, uh, type of actions, offensive actions to, uh, shut down critical infrastructure in Taiwan, even to shut down or disrupt, uh, networks and infrastructures in Japan where American bases are. And even in the United States to cause confusion and, uh, create, uh, uh, delays in the ability of the U.S. military and other militaries to get into the theater. So, that would be the first thing that they would do. And then the Chinese writings talk about, uh, a joint fire strike campaign, which is essentially, uh, launching the missiles of the Strategic Rocket Force, the ballistic missiles that they have, uh, launching them at key targets in Taiwan, uh, at Naval ports at, uh, airfields, at garrison locations of the Taiwan Army, uh, at supply centers, at critical choke points, uh, at rail or at, uh, transportation hubs and things of this nature. 

James Fanell: (07:50)

So, those missiles would be flying into Taiwan in the midst of a cyber attack. And then once that is accomplished almost simultaneously, but after the missiles are flown, uh, the PLA air forces would then establish what they call a joint, um, uh, air, uh, an air superiority over the island. And so you would have the joint fire strike campaign, a joint anti-air raid campaign, which is the air component which would prevent any Taiwan air forces that remained from the strike campaign. Uh, those air forces would be either targeted on the ground, or if they are able to get up, they would be taken out in the air so that Taiwan would have, uh, China would have, and the PLA would have, air superiority over Taiwan, would be able to prevent, uh, U.S. air forces or Japanese air forces from getting in over Taiwan, which would allow them the final segment of the, uh, plan, which is the, uh, island, uh, invasion campaign to come across the Strait. 

James Fanell: (08:53)

And to be able to actually not have a contested landing on beaches where there’s barbed wire and tank, uh, restrictions, but they would actually be able to take maybe some of the key ports or airfields where they could actually come in with massive amounts of PLA troops that would be able to then, uh, conduct combat operations into the island. And so these phases, uh, a cyber event, a joint fire strike, uh, joint anti air raid campaign, and then the island landing campaign would be conducted in a, in a, in a sequential order but a couple of those up front. The cyber and the fire strike would be conducted almost simultaneously with the air, uh, activities. And actually, I think Chinese doctrine now is sophisticated enough that they would be able to actually do fire strikes. And when they would launch, uh, strikes, then they would have aircraft that would operate over. 

James Fanell: (09:47)

And then if they saw that there was still remaining targets that needed to be struck with ballistic missiles, the air forces would retreat back over the mainland, and they would restart relaunching, uh, missile strikes in, in a sequence like that. So, this is exactly how they would do that. And they’ve been practicing each element of that over the last two decades. First, they’ve been acquiring, uh, acquiring over two decades of military modernization, acquiring these materials, these ballistic missiles, these flighters, these, uh, naval vessels, uh, these helicopters, amphibious carriers, all of this. And they’ve been training in a complex electromagnetic environment up and down the coast of China from the North Sea fleet and the Bohai, inside the East China Sea and in the South China Sea, and across the Strait from Taiwan. 

Simone Gao: (10:39)

Okay. That’s a very complicated plan. And if they have been developing this plan, would you say this is the most likely battle plan that they will launch? 

James Fanell: (10:51)

Yeah, I think it’s entirely likely that they will, uh, this is the, it may sound complex, but it’s very, it’s pretty basic. It’s neutralize your enemies, command and control with cyberwarfare attacks, launch ballistic missiles to take out the key ports and airfields, establish air superiority so that your aircraft can control anything that happens in the airspace over Taiwan, and then you start the invasion. Uh, so that it would be, you know, their plan is to make it almost impossible for Taiwan’s military to be able to launch a counterattack against the invading forces that had come across. That’s the strategy. Included in that is also this idea of, uh, uh, counter-intervention strategy, which is to keep the United States and other foreign militaries outside of the theater of operations. We call it A2AD in the U.S., it’s called anti-access area denial, but it’s this idea that they would also use ballistic missiles, like the DF-21D or the DF-26, which can range Guam, the DF-26 and the DF-21D, can range past the first island chain and be able to target U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. And you just saw this last, uh, week or so a large exercise with two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Carl Vinson, uh, the United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth, and then a Japanese amphibious carrier, uh, the Ise. So those missile systems, the DF-21D and the DF-26, are specifically designed to sink large, big floating aircraft carrier-type ships. So, those missiles would be used as well as a counter-intervention strategy to keep supporting forces from Taiwan at bay. 

Simone Gao: (12:42)

How powerful are those Chinese missiles? Are they able to keep the aircraft carriers out of the area so they can’t function? 

James Fanell: (12:50)

Well, there’s been a lot of debate over these missile systems, these anticarrier ballistic missiles, and for a long time, uh, since the, you know, the late 2000s–2008, 9, 10–uh, we were learning about these missile systems and then for the next five, ten years, people were debating their efficacy and whether or not they were effective against, uh, targets at sea. And many critics of the missile systems pointed to the fact that China had never tested these missiles at a target at sea. Um, that’s not entirely true, but suffice it to say last August, in 2020, uh, China shot a salvo of missiles, two from the DF-21D and two from the DF-26, we believe, uh, at, uh, a maneuvering target, uh, in a closure area south of Hainan Island. So, it was a signal, uh, to the United States and Japan and others that yes, China’s missile systems are effective and have been tested against a maneuvering target at sea. Does that mean that they’re, they’re 100% accurate each and every time? No, our, our ships, uh, have, uh, uh, capabilities to, uh, uh, deceive incoming missiles. The missiles themselves are traveling at a high rate of speed, and if you can deceive their seekers, uh, just a little bit, they will miss, because it’s very difficult to hit a, hit, a moving ship, even a big aircraft carrier that’s, uh, a thousand feet long. 

Simone Gao: (14:17)

Okay. But what if they, what, what if they launched like hundreds of missiles? I mean, one of those will land on the aircraft carrier, right? 

James Fanell: (14:27)

Well, that’s the strategy that China would use. You know, the, the old saying that, uh, quantity has a quality all of its own. So, if you know that your missile system has an error rate of, uh, 10% or 15%, whatever it is, well, then you launch more missiles to ensure that you have the probability on your side that you’ll have a chance to hit one of these, uh, big, uh, uh, large-deck carriers. And just hitting a carrier, uh, would have, uh, the, it doesn’t have to sink the aircraft carrier to have what we call a mission kill, which is to effectively take the carrier out of the fight because it can’t launch and recover aircraft. 

Simone Gao: (15:07)

Right. Right. So, if that’s the case, and it seems like that’s not very hard to do, because if they just launch bunch missiles, one of them will land on the aircraft carrier and the carrier will be out of the fight. Then, what will the U.S. do? 

James Fanell: (15:24)

Well, as I mentioned, we’re not totally, the U.S. is not totally unaware of this strategy of you sending a lot of missiles, and we’re not unaware of the capabilities of the missiles and how they’re configured and things of that nature, which I can’t talk about in detail. But what I can at least say is we have, we have the capability and the thinking that we’ve been working on for, for a long time to how do we deceive and disrupt a missile system like that? Whether we deceive it through, uh, sending a false signal of what our signature of the aircraft carrier looks like, maybe five miles away. If you were able to create a signature that said, well, it looks like the USS Ronald Reagan is not here, it’s over here, uh, that will defeat the missile system. There are other systems that we can do. 

James Fanell: (16:09)

We have a U.S. Cyber Command that has the ability to do its own offensive cyber operations. So, maybe you disrupt the command and control of the missile system before it’s even launched. So, there’s a lot of things that the U.S. military has the capability to do, but presumably, uh, you know, we have also considered the fact that these large-deck, uh, aircraft carriers could be taken out. So, what does the United States also have? Well, we have a series of, uh, other platforms. We have surface ships, which are not quite as capable, but they’re becoming more capable with, uh, uh, like the team LAAM, uh, Navy, which we have, uh, there was a new missile system that’s being developed. It’s actually been tested already. They shoot a T LAAM that can go and strike Chinese ships that would also be involved with the invasion. Uh, and then we have our submarine force. And so we have a number of submarines, nuclear powered submarines, that carry a variety of, uh, uh, vertically launched, uh, cruise missiles and attack missiles that could be used to also disrupt the Chinese invasion plan. 

Simone Gao: (17:14)

Hmm. Okay. Will America and its allies be able to defeat the PLA in a scenario like that? 

James Fanell: (17:22)

That’s the big question. And, and right now, I think the answer is more and more folks like me that have been giving warning about the PLA modernization for a couple of decades, um, we’re very, very concerned about the, uh, uh, the gap in military capabilities between the PLA and the U.S., uh, Indo-Pacific forces that are forward deployed into that region. Uh, and even the, you know, it takes a couple of weeks for aircraft carriers to get from the west coast of the United States across the expanse of the Pacific. So, uh, I’m very concerned that the balance of power is shifting into the PRC’s favor. And that is why I’m a strong advocate of building up our deterrent capability. And so we have the, we have, uh, uh, an existential threat in many ways, uh, from the PRC. Certainly Taiwan as an existential threat from the PRC and the PLA. 

James Fanell: (18:23)

And so it’s incumbent upon us that want to ensure freedom and democracy and liberty in this region, uh, is not overcome by the, by the Chinese Communist Party. We need to have the force structure and military that can deter, uh, the PRC from acting. And unfortunately to get those forces and get that force structure that would really deter China, it’s going to take a lot of time, beyond 2025. And this has been my worry for so long, which is when I first started giving these warnings, uh, over a decade ago, I, I was well aware that it would take awhile for the U.S. to be able to start producing the kinds of military equipment that would deter China. We don’t have those completely yet. We have some, and we’re, we’re working on it, uh, but is it enough to actually stop China in the conventional arena? 

James Fanell: (19:15)

And I’m not so sure it is, which leads to the other arena, which is the nuclear arena. And in that regard, the United States is still, uh, the world’s leading power when it comes to nuclear weapons. And so, I think there’s a place in this, uh, deterrent, uh, uh, strategy to deter the PRC from, uh, launching an invasion that would, you know, put 23 million people at risk. That the United States needs to communicate to Beijing that not only will we fight you conventionally, but you have to worry about whether or not we will use nuclear weapons. And that sounds crazy to a lot of people, uh, but right now we need to do that. And it’s not so crazy when we consider that in just the last six, seven months, China has already built, uh, constructed 350 new nuclear ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missile silos, out in central and western China. Uh, so China recognizes that they’re behind in the nuclear, uh, arsenal, uh, race. And they’re now racing towards building a nuclear arsenal that could very quickly close that gap that the United States has over, uh, China. And so, we need to pay attention to that as well. 

Simone Gao: (20:34)

That’s it for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China Chat. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this program if you like my content. Our website is zoomingin.tv. I’m Simone Gao, and I’ll see you next time.

Is Being the World’s Dominant Chip Supplier a Blessing or Curse to Taiwan? | Zooming In China

(YouTube subtitles transcription)

hello everyone welcome to zooming in china i’m simone gao in january 2019 xi jinping delivered its most important taiwan policy speech in the six years since he came to power she declared that unification with taiwan is one of the most important parts of the great rejuvenation of the chinese nation in fact taiwan must unite with china and china would not kick the can down the road forever did he imply that if a peaceful unification is not achievable china would take over taiwan during his lifetime and under his leadership now the whole world is depending on taiwan for chips how has this impacted america’s determination to protect taiwan i had these discussions with robert hammond chambers president of the u.s taiwan business council take a listen thank you rupert for joining zumi in china today thank you simone it’s it’s my pleasure always

okay let’s talk about tsmc in the context of the cross-strait relations recently i’ve heard an argument that if china occupied taiwan the whole world would be paralyzed because i mean if beijing decided to cut off the chip production from tsmc is this an overstatement well i think what it speaks to is the importance of taiwan in the semiconductor ecosystem simone i mean you identified tsmc and of course tsmc is arguably the most important semiconductor company in the world now given its technology particularly at the highest levels and its relationship with the global technology community if taiwan was severed if the island’s semiconductor manufacturing was severed from the global economy yes it would have ramifications across the world not just for supply chains which were seeing fact perhaps as an example and the tightness of supply in this in the auto industry uh you can magnify that across the entire global economy manufacturing would be impacted equity markets would be impacted and so on so yes it would it would have ramifications way beyond just the taiwan straight right right and i think that tsmc has really changed the cross uh straight uh relations quite a bit so the question is how much has tsmc changed america’s resolve to protect type one well i i i know you want to put it in the context of tsmc the company but i would continue to come back to the taiwan semiconductor ecosystem for of course tsmc is at the center of taiwan’s semiconductor community but there are many many companies that make up taiwan’s strength as a manufacturing base for chip manufacturing and and for uh for partnering with the rest of the world in this space how has it changed the calculation for the united states well it’s strengthened it there are many different issues about why taiwan is and will remain a critical partner for the united states for japan for the australians for the british and others globally of which its technology importance is a key feature and of course at the core of that is the semiconductor miracle that has grown on the island since the 1980s

right uh you know the recent news is tsmc is planning to build several more chip making factories in arizona beyond the one currently planned u.s domestic manufacturers such as intel is also planning on building factories in the area as is samsung and the biden administration is preparing to spend tens of billions of dollars to support domestic chip manufacturing so how significant it is this trend to the u.s and also to taiwan will this make uh tsmc and the rest of the you know taiwan’s semiconductor industry less significant strategically in the future actually i think simone it’s quite the opposite i think that tsmc and the semiconductor community from taiwan is only becoming more relevant more important for the considerations of american politicians and leaders the investment and commitment that tsmc is making here in the united states it’s huge at the highest technology levels five nanometer the possibility that as the arizona investment expands over time we may see three nanometer production and even higher as time progresses speaks volumes to how important tsmc places the importance tsmc places on its relationship with its american partners and customers as well as geostrategically the importance of the u.s taiwan relations what we’re seeing which is an excellent development is more balanced less less less focus only on one place for high in manufacturing particularly taiwan and more balance between taiwan and the united states for higher manufacturing that’s good for geostrategic politics it’s also good business and allows tsmc and the taiwan technology community to engage and service its global customers and partners which is a favorable outcome

okay that makes sense let’s talk about xi jinping uh do you think xi jinping has decided to take over taiwan within his lifetime well certainly xi jinping has made very clear that he has every intention of pressuring taiwan to accept a a uh to accept a political relationship with beijing with china along beijing’s lines that of course is at the core of the one china principle what is the one china principle the one china principle is there is only one china the people’s republic of china communist china of which taiwan is a part well taiwan isn’t a communist country it’s a it’s a flourishing democracy so for taiwan to uh accept the terms that mr uh she is is demanding is to accept that the democracy that taiwan has built on the island will go away and it will be replaced by authority authoritarian communist party rule from beijing well has as mr as mr xi settled that he will accomplish this only time will tell but he’s certainly demanding it at the moment in january 2019 in a speech regarding type 1 xi jinping said that taiwan must unite with china and the party will not kick the can down the road forever so if he has decided to take over taiwan within his lifetime what do you think would be a good window for him well who could know what the right timing is for china to undertake some sort of action my response to your question is that i think the chinese should be very wary of any action that undermines peace and security in the taiwan strait whether the gray zone activities that they have been pursuing of late the saltying of aircraft in taiwan’s adiz south of the island between taiwan and the philippines or other gray zone activities that limit and restrict taiwan’s ability to engage other countries in the world these all under all these actions undermine confidence in china’s role as a a responsible player in the global community um moving forward um you know certainly china’s best play is to act peacefully and magnanimously towards taiwan and seek cooperation and not confrontation

i don’t think if that’s very likely let’s talk about president biden biden said one of the main reasons for america to withdraw from afghanistan is because america wants to focus on china and his current strategy regarding china has three components competition cooperation and confrontation i was thinking would there ever be a scenario where you know in this post pandemic era in the face of a possible hard landing of the u.s economy america would need china more than before and in that case what would it mean for taiwan well i think that the the issue of economic instability whether in the united states or quite frankly simone in china is certainly one that analysts should consider about the ability to manage stable relations between china and the united states the two the world’s two largest economies that has to be a consideration but i believe here in the united states that the overall attitude towards china is one now steeped in confrontation and once steeped in pushing back on china’s behavior regionally and globally whether it’s military militarily or economically so it’s hard even in your scenario where the united states may be experiencing some economic challenges to imagine that that would curb america’s willingness to uh um to compromise on other areas of american national interest in fact i would imagine that that would probably strengthen america’s willingness not to be perceived as vulnerable in that moment and as a consequence be taken advantage of and i think that’s true for china as well if i had a concern frankly about u.s china relations moving forward in respect to the united states i think it’s probably over climate change cooperation and the extent to which american domestic politics may undermine broader american national interest as uh the left wing of the american democratic party push for some sort of climate accommodation with china that comes at the expense of all the other american national interests taiwan certainly being high on those priority lists but economic issues technology issues and so on

interesting last question what is your evaluation of the biden administration’s china policy so far i i have been impressed with the continuity that the biden administration has pursued in respect to the shift that mr trump made in 2017 when he was elected and that has been most welcome parochially for us on taiwan policy uh the biden administration through both the selection of top-notch personnel kurt campbell dan crittenbrink eli ratner there are certainly many others worthy of note but those are three who i would identify right off the bat as well as the pursuit of policies that consistently keep us national interest at the forefront keep pressure on china to live up to its obligations and to act as a responsible player in the global economy and a responsible economic partner to the united states has all been most welcome perhaps seymour you noted yesterday ambassador thai at the united states trade representative office gave a speech at the center for strategic and international studies in which he framed a trade policy that looks very similar to the one that mr trump and his colleagues pursued for us here at the u.s taiwan business council we welcome that and i would also note that while mr trump and his colleagues did not see fit to engage taiwan bilaterally on economic matters for fear that it might disrupt u.s china trade relations mr biden has in fact proceeded and a trade and investment framework agreement meeting was hosted this past summer and it did not have a negative impact on u.s china economic engagement my point to you is we can do important economic bilateral trade issues with taiwan and with china at the same time

interesting okay robert these are all my questions do you have anything else to add no simone i i think uh i love all of your questions i particularly like the last one i i did want to note for you that that uh i think it’s interesting now we’re looking at the the parliament in taiwan has just started its autumn early winter session running through to the lunar new year um you’ll note within uh the life you end session this autumn there are two important uh defense pieces of defense legislation their regular defense budget which again you’re seeing a significant increase in spending by the taiwan government and then we for the second year in a row we’re seeing a special defense budget for taiwan this one to focus in on capabilities that will deter the kind of adventurism that you were asking about in respect to the chinese um increased production of domestically produced missiles uh a naval aircraft that would complicate pla planning so my point to you simply is is that the sense of urgency on taiwan over the threat from china is very real and the us has been attempting to encourage taiwan to be more aggressive and to lean into this issue more and we’re seeing that now from the psy government and the dpp right from the last administration the trump administration i’ve heard from the senior office officers from the trump administration that their strategy is to let more countries to invest in taiwan so they have more tighter economic ties with taiwan and if china one is becoming you know so important to so many countries then taiwan would have more protection uh do you think the biden administration is also um you know adapting that strategy simone i love that point that you’re raising 100 the broader uh and deeper the economic relations taiwan has with the rest of the world the more the rest of the world is vested in ensuring of peace and security in the taiwan strait the way i like to describe it is there is so much more permission to invade to to engage taiwan today than there was in 2015-2016 when the focus was always on china getting along well with china and and the focus on taiwan was for taiwan to be quiet taiwan not to cause a problem tai want to keep the low profile now what you have is an assessment of taiwan based on the merits of taiwan of the relationship with taiwan and that has really opened things up economically of course that’s also been driven the last several years by the importance of the technology supply chain and taiwan’s role within it and of course as you astutely noted in several of your earlier questions the semiconductor industry simone is just such a critical piece of the global economy and who’s the most important country in the world in the semiconductor industry now in partnership with the united states and that’s taiwan those are the two most important countries that play in the semiconductor space i’m not suggesting there aren’t other important countries there are like japan holland for example but the two most important are the united states and taiwan right right and yes i just feel the dynamics of taiwan the u.s taiwan relations is different now which is which is awesome all right thank you robert um really appreciate you joining zumi in china today simone it’s always my pleasure thank you so much you take care you too that’s all for today thanks for watching zoom in china chat please like share subscribe and donate to this program if you like my content and also head over to my new membership website at zooming in tv you can get video audio formats of my shows full transcripts and in-depth reports available only to members i will also do live q a with members on the website just five dollars a month or fifty dollars a year please check it out thanks again i’m simon gao and i’ll see you next time

Will Confucius Institute Be Funded by the U.S. Again?

(YouTube subtitles transcription)

hello everyone welcome to zooming china chat i’m simon gao house democrats are blocking the senate pass the bill of the confucius act that would stop funds from the 3.5 trillion dollar infrastructure bill from going to universities that host a confucius institute what happened to the consensus the u.s political circle has reached on stopping chinese efforts in limiting free speech and spreading propaganda through the confucius institute chairman of the joint chiefs of staff mark alexander milley is in hot water because of his phone call to the top chinese general without letting president trump know what will happen to merely will the biden administration hold the lie on china i discuss these questions and more with sean still republican national committee man in california take a listen thank you xiang for joining zumi and china today ah this is a this is one of my favorite subjects it’s in the newspapers every day yeah thank you okay let’s talk about the confucius act uh that just passed the senate i think actually on march 4th it passed the senate unanimously however after the bill reached the house it was blocked by some democratic congressman so i was wondering why that happened because i thought the the u.s political circle has already reached a consensus on the confucius institute actually they have um most people of goodwill uh liberals uh conservatives moderates i think we know who funds the confucius institute we know it’s a it’s a it’s an agency for the chinese communist party we know it’s insidious it doesn’t have any real interest in having uh genuine history or cultural enlightenment it’s basically a spy operation propaganda organization for the chinese communist party but progressives have a problem with uh countries that are totalitarian uh that uh have fantastic social controls have surveillance systems so the progressives are strangely attracted to rogues all over the world including the the the people that run the chinese communist party and what their what their reasoning is is it’s almost baffling but the fact is the progressive caucus and the democrat party particularly in the house are fundamentally anti-american they just don’t like this country they don’t like the people in this country they don’t like the history of our country and they see uh that perhaps an alliance with the chinese communist party and other rogue states might be somehow beneficial to their interests because they really do seek a revolutionary overturn in our american society so that’s the fundamental reason they don’t have a good reason um if you put them on the spot uh they’re gonna say well the language wasn’t quite right well maybe the time the timing’s not good well maybe biden would be unhappy but whatever the excuse is there shouldn’t be any argument that the confucius institute is something that doesn’t belong in university or high school campuses and at one point they were all over the country and now there’s pushback people are aware what they’re designed for who’s paying for it they’re basically foreign lobbyists that are unregistered right right that’s what i’m like i don’t quite understand the political wind has changed on this subject if they oppose you know funding the pro confucius institute that would not be popular with our voters isn’t that true well for the vast majority uh they’re they’re trying i think some of the progressives are saying well this is an anti-asian bill nonsense they they they know that’s transparently not true the people that are promoting this are mostly asian americans people that especially those from mainland china that have left mainland china for a reason to get out because of the totalitarian society they support abolishing the confucius institutes and because they understand uh the insidious nature of this kind of propaganda and basically it’s also confucius institutes also used to keep track and to monitor and intimidate former citizens of communist china they’re here people here in in america uh are here for a reason they enjoy the liberties that we have uh and where the government’s not all powerful all the time and uh yet uh then they discovered a couple of miles away at a big university there’s a confucius institute that actually knows where they live i said while they get visited once in a while they’ll get phone calls they basically are being watched and spied upon particularly those with uh recently from communist china they’re being spied upon by by the by the confucius institute it’s just it’s a vast network of spies it’s something that really we don’t need and we shouldn’t have in our in our country yeah that’s that’s just crazy uh do you think this bill will pass i mean nevertheless i think it will maybe maybe not this session uh we’ll have to in the elections of 2022 uh there should be a major repudiation against joe biden he probably had the worst eight months of any american president in the last hundred years maybe 150 years i mean it’s been a terrible six eight months or for biden i mean you could take uh who but we could we could look at other presidents uh like carter of uh georgia who was president for four short years and he had a terrible four years and you know americans replace them with ronald reagan so but for joe biden deteriorates so badly and there’s a chance of remedy that our constitution provides for a change in the house of representatives every two years historically the the party in power loses 40 seats that probably lose a lot more than that so so once we have a republican majority and as you know michelle congresswoman michelle steele sits on the china commission that’s going to have a great deal of influence and it’ll be much more center-right than center-left as it is today right right um let’s talk about you just talked about joe biden let’s talk about 2024 and trump so when he was asked about whether he would run again in 2024 he said i don’t think we’re going to have a choice i think you will be happy what do you make of it well i think he’s always interested uh and he’s not hiding his interest uh but he he puts in such a way that he can go either way he changed his mind at the last minute uh and so i just like he likes turning the pot keeping the interest keeping the attention on him uh he likes that kind of incoming publicity uh and there’s nothing wrong with it every politician does so sure he likes to be asked constantly it helps the democrats in a way because that brings up oh my god trump could get back and so they raise a lot of money off those comments i see it all the time i see the fundraising letters go out so the democrats like to keep holding up trump scare their base on the other hand trump gets gets a lot of our base excited so he likes being you know getting that kind of attention uh and so you’re gonna keep hearing him say that he’s gonna hedge uh i think right after the 20 2022 elections that he’ll then have to be much more clear after we have the elections next year you’re going to hear right after those midterm elections if he’s serious or not and there’s some other issues too you know he’s uh the exact same age do i have this right no he’s four years younger than joe biden um but if he’s physically fit if he’s sharp uh if he makes a good clear comments if he can campaign hard like he did last year like he did in 2016 he’ll be formidable he’ll be he’ll be a major force of nature it’s interesting so you you didn’t interpret trump’s answer as a definitely yes because he didn’t say definitely you know he’s very good on this and and then you know when he makes these comments and then they’ll say you’re going to hear a definite answer next tuesday so everybody’s sitting in their seats next tuesday and next tuesday not really in it more clear he says a lot of them wait till next saturday and uh so he keeps the suspense good so he’s an expert on television he he he understands how to get the message across and keep people excited keep people tuned in that’s that’s that’s one of his great talents he’s a great communicator interesting so if trump run in 2024 um how do you compare his chances to that of 2020. it’s hard to say biden is falling much faster than anybody anticipated uh we he he he may have some real serious problems that we don’t even know about he is clearly he’s he’s been covered and surrounded uh by his uh wife and the chief of staff and sometimes we scratch our heads who’s really running the show who’s making the decisions most people that i know don’t think i didn’t think in his own decision somebody’s got a team of people or a couple of aides or somebody that’s kind of helping him walk through the motions uh so it’s it’s hard to tell you you heard him in a press conference just this morning you know it was sad you know he’s coughing and sneezing and you know just stuff that you you wouldn’t find from a president normally he’s not healthy he’s not a health he’s not a healthy person you know it’s in a way it’s too bad but he’s our president we expect the best and the brightest if if biden is not in a good shape why did you why did you not say trump is going to be in a better position than 2020 2020 no i mean trump trump could be in a better position again remember you know you know age is a factor in everything in life including politics and uh so you know when you have a governor when you have a candidate like obama it’s fresh and vital and exciting and prismatic and nobody ever doubted his cognitive abilities george bush when he was running for president exciting dashing i think that she figured from texas and you know governor and had a nice big vision nobody ever thought twice you know about his abilities everybody thinks a lot about joe biden yeah okay so if trump runs in 2024 what i mean i mean i should ask what’s the republican leadership’s uh position about this would they rather have someone else wrong for 2024 the beautiful thing about a political party is not one guy not one woman not one faction it is a huge umbrella organization involving tens and tens of millions of people tens of millions of people and so i can’t speak for tens of millions of people i represent five million registered republicans in california represent them uh but i certainly don’t speak for all of them uh but my job is to stay close to that but there’s 50 states and six territories that republicans are are active and have people elected office so it’s so when you say republican leaders there’s all kinds of republican leaders sometimes they don’t like each other sometimes they fight amongst themselves so my my best guess is that trump’s in order to get re-nominated in 2024 he’s going to have to win the primaries and if he goes in uh and does what he did in 2016 just just throttles everybody aside and he walks if he’s running for president he and he has let’s just say just 30 percent support he’ll become the nominee i i i was surprised to see that because in 2016 he he always had 30 the first day he announced 30 and and then the last primary 30 so he has he has that core group that will drive through and beat a whole bunch of other people now if it’s one other candidate like like governor desantis who everybody likes and florida well then then the odds might be different but there if there’s 15 people running against trump trump will kill all of them one at a time so those are some of the dynamics uh and who knows what we’ll be thinking what will be going on what kind of situation they’ll be economically in america what new viruses the communist chinese spring on the world yeah you know president biden ordered a day reports to trace the origin of the virus did not give a conclusive um you know answer to where the virus actually came from i mean by the administration i think on the surface you see it go after the ccp pretty fiercely but you know and the result you don’t see much i mean what’s your impression do you think they’re tough enough i’m gonna disagree i don’t think they go after them fiercely at all i think they’re they don’t talk much about communist china they don’t talk uh they don’t have any kind of a any kind of a vision or understanding with trouble is really clear and this is trump’s best work might have been foreign policy or federal judges there’s so many areas he did he did extraordinarily well better than even reagan in some cases uh so trump uh by making the policy very clear with the chinese by actually doing things with the tariffs really did change the chinese attitude but more importantly he educated americans and other people in the world and that legacy is is going forward he’s emboldened a lot of people to stand against the chinese communist party that i like to see the philippines are finally shifting their focus and not being so nice to the chinese communist party and and so biden it doesn’t show that resolution he has been weak from day one remember it was obama’s secretary of defense not too recent ago i’m not not too long ago uh gates uh secretary of defense uh gates said that uh obama had the ability to make bad incompetent political world decisions for 30 years in a row that that and every major world event he was wrong fighting was wrong that secretary of defense who one of the top positions that obama appointed to saying that about joe biden joe biden keeps proving bad decisions bad instincts and then bad advisors i mean this general million that he’s got is his worst chief of staff in american history i can’t think of any general that has been as bad and insidious uh sub-refuge violating military uh organization ethics as as general milley and and widen standing standing behind him the guy has become a laughingstock and an embarrassment for for american service people i want to get your opinion on the 2022 midterms i just read a piece on cnn and it talked about you know actually several republican senators are pondering whether they’re going to run again or retire what do you think will happen to the midterms so so we have uh uh some good opportunities now so some and by the way we have to elect more republicans and democrats because it turns out there’s a lot more republicans running for re-election than democrats there’s a five or six really crucial seats we should win the georgia seat back i think we’ve got some outstanding candidate that herschel walkers you know pressing a lot of folks an african-american that’d be the second black senator from the south that’s republican and democrats don’t have that uh i think we’ve got some other good opportunities uh that we can pick up but also not just looking at state by state by state if biden’s administration is collapsing before our very eyes i don’t know it could be worse than couple it’s going to help all on every level of government

so you think uh in 2022 republicans can reclaim both house and senate yes i do and also a lot of governorships and the reason is how the collect by the administration is is deteriorating it’s getting worse by the month not by the year by the month there’s always some bad news look in the last 48 hours what’s the bad news with general miley who’s in charge of joint jesus staff was talking to communist chinese military leaders undermining uh trump we went through this with macarthur and harry s truman you can’t have a a military guy making policy it’s illegal it’s unconstitutional it’s treasonable and it should be court-martialed uh and that just came out last forty dollars that just i mean that just came out of nowhere this is the same guy uh that uh thinks that the biggest problem that america faces number one security threat is white rage is this man insane this is a joint jesus staff of our military like white rage no it’s it’s it’s it’s his is he’s such a political suck-up and he’s going to be considered the worst one of the worst military generals in all of american history he’s a disgrace and he’s still there fighting keeps supporting him yeah do we have a secretary of defense who’s arguably very dumb and not very sharp at all and he’s he’s responsible for for the collapse of kabul so we have been players that’s making fight and look worse and that’s not changing i would also like to get your opinion on the california recall election the latest number i checked is uh 74 of reported votes 64 of californians said no to remove governor newsom 36 said yes does this number surprise you no uh there there’s twice as many registered democrats in california the other side knew some spent he didn’t have any campaign limits because it’s a recall election so the rules are different so he had 80 million george soros kicked in a million even surprised me uh the the democrat governors association put millions and millions and they this is they were so desperately basically the democrats got a shiner they got a big black eye i mean newsom is half the man that he was for the election because he he was who gets recall that’s a very difficult process we’ve got two million people signing signing the initiatives and the democrats spotted all the way they changed the election they they up they instead of the election in november they pushed to september indeed and then they demonized larry elder an african-american how dare a african-american be a libertarian conservative and run against the newsome so they made up stuff and they attacked them they had 80 million dollars i would tell you right now 80 million dollars mother teresa couldn’t win seriously in the age of big news and and propaganda which was overwhelming but i didn’t i i didn’t go in with expectations that were suddenly going to seize power but what we did do is organize several million people that are better educated know how to knock on doors we know what where we’re strong in certain neighborhoods or certain congressmen and a lot of trouble because their neighborhoods went against newsome plus 25 percent of the votes haven’t been counted it’s gonna the numbers are going to show that that it’s not as wide as it is today it’s going to be narrower more counties are going to start showing that they win against newsome so uh but we won’t find that for one or two weeks because you know they these registered voters take forever to count you know they work for the government so uh and so i i the recall was was a good energizer for us larry elder was spectacular spectacular he’ll he’ll be the most one of the most famous republicans in the country he’ll be he’s in high demand his radio show a 300 station is probably going to grow to 600 radio so you’re going to see a lot of larry hill it’s one of the most common sense republicans we’ve had in a generation interesting does the results of the recall tell you anything about what’s going to happen in 2022 well california is the bluest of the blue state who would have guessed six months ago there would even be a recall that itself is historic that they were willing to take a look we we were the david newsomes of goliath and we missed we didn’t we didn’t knock them out with a stone well that’s fine uh there’ll be other opportunities i don’t for for one election i don’t i don’t give up to me it’s just a process and and and the uh uh the money came in so big remember we weren’t even you know this is not small down the donation the most of the contributions came in at a million dollars we’re talking about big tech big labor and big labor and big tech together is is a form of force uh it’s not like middle class folks it’s not like regular donors uh these these these groups came in uh and they wanted to keep control you know progressives and and left-wing democrats the basic thing is control they make people wear masks because maybe it doesn’t scientifically make sense but it shows that they’re in charge and they can tell you what right i mean just you know i’m curious what do you think will happen to general milly millie is going to have to resign uh there’s going to be too many questions he has whatever you know he got through the politically correct stuff and the critical race theories that he’s imposing on the military and then it was uh hubble that that you know he’s you know buck stops on the military side that was a terrible terrible withdrawal and still we got americans that are held hostage we’ll hear about this for years it’ll be years of take get all the americans out of there it’s going to be a story continuous now we find out that that he was playing deep deep politics in front of 15 other people’s well-reported he hasn’t denied it he’s done he is he is a dead man walking he doesn’t have any future or credibility nobody in congress trusts him even democrats tammy duckworth a far uh democrat liberal in chicago and she’s an american war veteran she wants people to know that is a helicopter pilot in iraq and she lost both of her legs she’s paraplegic she’s a u.s sinner and she said miley’s in a lot of trouble i think she implied that he has to go so now you got the democrats that are agreeing with the republicans it means joe biden’s doing something good he’s uniting the country against this politics yeah but president biden backed the general mili and mili’s office said they had kept the department of defense and interagency in loop when millie made those calls will this get merely off the hook well look everything is going to stop for uh for miley people are not going to trust him uh international leaders won’t populate as frequently uh his his uh ethnicity that he’s getting is going deep into the ranks he is really a negative force among young officers uh cadets in west point annapolis they can’t respect him he’s unrespectable he’s a man that has lost his poise and his dignity he’s a man that has no dignity made very bad stupid political decisions uh the political generals that that obama kind of created nurtured in advance he’s one of those political generals we don’t need political generals we need general we need military so so miley’s turned out to be the worst of the worst he’s an embarrassment for america he won’t last long all right sean thank you so much uh for the interview really appreciate it i love it you’re you’re a great one and you’ve done so well and you get so many views everybody’s jealous they should be i’m proud of you thank you thank you xiao alrighty bye bye bye that’s all for today thanks for watching zumi in china please like share subscribe and donate to this channel if you like our production also head over to my new membership website at zooming in tv you can get video audio formats of my shows full transcripts and in-depth reports only available to members i will also do q and a with members on the website just five dollars a month or 50 dollars a year please check it out thanks again and i’ll see you next time

Could the 90-day Covid Origin Probe Be Politicized? | Zooming In China

Simone Gao:
Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China. I’m Simone Gao. The 90-day COVID origin report President Biden ordered came out last Friday. The unclassified summary of the report assesses that SARS-CoV-2 probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November, 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. In addition, the intelligence community was able to reach broad agreement on several other issues. The summary says the intelligence community judged the virus was not developed as a biological weapon. Most agencies also assess, with low confidence, that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered. However, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way. Finally, the IC assesses that China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged. Today, I invited a virologist and an intelligence community veteran to discuss the report with me.
 
Simone Gao:
Sean Lin was the former lab director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Nick Eftimiades is a retired senior intelligence officer who specialized in China. He spent 34 years in CIA and defense intelligence agency and has written extensively on China’s espionage operations. Here’s the discussion. Sean and Nick, thank you so much for joining Zooming In China today. So, uh, let’s talk about the 90-day report on the COVID origin. First of all, I want to ask both of you, I mean, do you think the conclusion that the report drew is reasonable? Sean, do you, I mean, Nick, do you want to go first?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Sure. I don’t really think sort of much of this report and is that, the whole thing isn’t out yet, but the conclusions they draw are about the conclusions that we went in with which were we really can’t determine if it was a result of a lab leak or a naturally occurring growth that happened. And you know, we can determine it wasn’t a manmade, specifically manmade, you know, as a bioweapon. And you know, it’s not likely there’s going to be any more information about it without the cooperation of the Chinese government.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. All right. What about you, Sean?
 
Sean Lin:
So, the summary of this investigation report make a couple of important statement. One of them is actually indicating there might be a small-scale outbreak no later than November, 2019. So, I don’t think any statement had made these any investigation have made these statements formally before. And then secondly, they make a statement saying this virus was not developed as a biological weapon. This also very important because I think in the past they were highly suspicious that the virus may be a joint development product from Wuhan Institute of Virology and Chinese People Liberation Army, or at least part of the biological weapon programs. The Chinese government may not be able to develop the exact virus, but maybe part of the process, uh, they create this virus. So, this time it was actually surprise that this intelligence committee report can make such a clear statement on this issue. And so, I think this is the biggest surprise to me.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. You know, I actually have a question Sean, for you. The report says four intelligence communities elements and the National Intelligence Council assess, with low confidence, that the initial SARS-CoV-2 was not likely caused by natural exposure to a animal infected with it or a close progeneter virus, a virus that probably would be more than 99% similar to SARS-CoV-2. These analysts gave weight to China’s officials’ lack of knowledge foreknowledge, the numerous vectors for natural exposure and other factors. So my question is, what exactly do they base their low confidence conclusion on? Are they saying that because the Chinese authorities seemed not to know about the virus beforehand and you know, there could be many animals that transfer the virus from bat to humans, so they concluded that this is likely the case, it’s, uh, it has a natural origin, or they had something else they based their conclusion on, but they just didn’t say it? Sean, what’s your opinion?
 
Sean Lin:
So, right now it’s just a brief summary. So, I don’t know the detail, but from their language, it just appears to me first, they didn’t mention about any defector’s, uh, information. Because right earlier this year there were so many reports talk about a potential defector coming out of the Chinese PLA or Chinese high-ranking officials. And so, what kind of information this defector might bring out, what kind of information that he brought out would be related to the virus, we don’t know, and this report didn’t mention any about that. And also the report didn’t mention about any new evidence that they gather during the last 90 days. So, we don’t know. Even though the CNN report mentioned about there were a large database, about 20,000 different maybe virus, samples, information collected in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But this summary report didn’t mention that and they didn’t mention about any large scale analysis of, like satellite images in Wuhan for the November, December of 2019 in Wuhan, or even earlier. We don’t know any of these investigation efforts been mentioned in this brief summaries.
 
Sean Lin:
So, we only know a very brief conclusion and also indicating such, uh, conflicting opinions inside the intelligence community. So it’s very hard to to judge, how do they make a conclusion that the Chinese officials don’t have any foreknowledges before the outbreak because even the Chinese officers in the Chinese public health system did not know about the information. How do you know that the Chinese military bioweapon program officer didn’t know about this information? How do you know Xi Jinping did not know about this information? The other ones, we don’t know. I don’t know if the American intelligence community is powerful enough to have a full knowledge about the Chinese bioweapon program. And actually the Chinese government has been very aggressive in doing the military-civil fusion to the most, dangerous pathogens researches.
 
Sean Lin:
And there have been many reports, uh, military officers writing books of guidelines reports regarding the strategies, the development of the bioweapons and how to improve China’s biosafeties, biosecurity issues and how do they relate it to the bioweapon programs in China. So I think that part, even that part needed to be thoroughly, seriously investigated, because it’s directly related to the national security of the United States. Even to the whole world. So I, I don’t know if the American intelligence community can get a, such a clear picture in just 90 days investigation on this virus issue.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. All right. Nick, what do you think? You know, do they base their conclusion on, you know, China doesn’t have foreknowledge of the virus and there could be many animals that could, you know, be the intermediate host? Do they base our conclusion on that, or do you think they have something else that they have that they just didn’t tell us?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Let me set a little tone and dispel a couple of things. The defector I think you’re referring to is, uh, Dong Jingwei, who was the, um, head of counterintelligence for the Ministry of State Security but he didn’t defect. That was just rumors that were coming out. And you know, it’s, it’s been largely discredited that he defected. So that, that didn’t happen, number one. In a situation like this, I mean, personally, there’s also been a lot of research that has been done, even out of Hong Kong, on bats and, and the types of viruses that they transmit. And this is…
 
Simone Gao:
Nick, I’m sorry, uh, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but can you just elaborate a little bit more? How do you know, like definitively, that don’t Dong Jingwei didn’t defect?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Uh well, for a start, the Office of Director of National Intelligence took the unprecedented step of calling the reporter who initially started reporting the rumor and told him, “Look, you know, we don’t have him. He did not defect.” Now if you’re in the intelligence concerns, for them to do something like that is just, you know, unheard of, literally hasn’t been done before. And the reason that they would never do that is because if information ever came out otherwise the U.S. Government’s been caught lying to the media and, and that would be, you know, that would wind up in congressional hearings.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. What about, because I think that reporter, her name is Jennifer, Jennifer, um, Jennifer something. But she said, I think her source is not National Intelligence Agency. It’s, uh, another source. It’s the national, it’s the Defense Intelligence Agency. So could be, you know, different agencies don’t talk to each other, they don’t know what each other hold?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
No, impossible. First off that was it came out of, I think it’s SpyTalk. It was gosh, I’ll remember his name in a second who first reported that, number one. Number two, there’s an inter-agency defector committee, and to, to say a defector would come out and be held by one agency is just not possible. I mean, in, in a way we have the system the way it is, right? It’s not possible that someone defects to the DIA and, which is an interesting tale on how that would happen in itself, um but how this guy would get out of the country, defect to one agency that he found, and that they would not tell that to anyone else. It’s just, the system–everything from the software to the processes to, you know, the entire system–is just not geared for, you know, the oversight that’s conducted by multiple agencies, in this case in particular the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence over human human intelligence, really doesn’t allow for that to happen. I mean, it’s just not possible. You couldn’t even enter the guy’s name in a, you know, in, in, in a system you know, information systems without all parties being informed. So so…
 
Simone Gao:
I mean, do they, do they, are they absolutely required to enter the person’s information into the system? What if they don’t ?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Then they go to jail. Period. I mean, you can’t, and it’s not to, you know, someone defects to Nick. I mean, there are 40 people that I’m going to, that have to even just be informed just to, just to affect that defection. I, I mean, am I going to give the guy immunity? I, you know, I can’t do that. That’s State Department. And we’re talking to the White House and, you know, lots of players have to be involved just for a person to defect. So, it’s not like, you know, it’s not even feasible that, that any agency could keep that defection from another. It just can’t, can’t happen. I mean, physically can’t happen.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. Thank you for that clarification. Okay, go ahead.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Yeah. So, I mean, we have, this incident is you know, we have a National Center for Medical Intelligence, right? Has an epidemiology section and a, and a health section divided into two. And it’s a joint thing for the armed forces under DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency. And they work issues of viruses and infections every day for the entire year. That’s what they do. Largely because if, you know, worldwide, if a U.S. Force is going to deploy, they have to know the medical conditions and country and what the potential threats are from a medical perspective. So, I mean, we have an entire center dedicated, with hundreds of people, dedicated towards working this issue. So, now an issue comes up, you know, this virus comes up that is potentially the greatest threat that we’ve seen in, in a hundred years to to humanity, millions die as a result. And I mean, it’s going to be the most scrutinized, collected-on activity, you know, for decades. So, even that 90 days, when this first started, and even I heard about it in early December you know, early December ’19. So it, it just, you know, and, and I weigh on the outside…
 
Simone Gao:
You heard about it in early December, 2019? You heard about this virus? I mean, where did you hear it?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Sorry, sorry. 2020. I’m losing my days. I’m losing my years.
 
Simone Gao:
20. I mean, everybody knows about the virus by 2020.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Actually. No, I’m sorry. I’m losing my year straight. It forcefully hit us in January, 2021, right?
 
Simone Gao:
2020.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
2020. So, the month before, early December, personally, I heard about it. That’s what was leaking out. And if I hear about it and I’m on the far fringes of, of actual intelligence you know the community is, is, aggressively looking at this. So, when something like this happens, you task your collection assets, right? You task your imagery, you task your, your signals intelligence, you task your, your cyber action, you task any of your human assets. So, all that happens over the course of you know, of the course of the months that we’ve been, that we’ve been looking at that problem. And, you know, President Trump made it a priority issue. The intelligence community was already working it as a priority issue. So, now that we have just terabytes worth of data on this and have been collecting and analyzing it and producing you know, and producing reports about it and bringing in scientists about it all through this entire time to try and determine, you know, the actual cause.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Now the president another person says we’re going to have a 90 day law. What does that accomplish? I mean, we’ve already looked at this probably more extensively than, than, you know, than any other event in recent times. So, you know, you’re not going to develop new signals intelligence. Your human assets, you’re not going to develop new human assets. I mean, those take months to years to develop. So, unless you get a defector that walks through the door, and even then you have to corroborate the information, right? Because everybody wants to come with a story you know, to come to the U.S. So, even then you have to corroborate the information. So unless you get very, very lucky in that you’re not working with new information, you know, maybe you go back over and retranslate information or stuff like that, but you basically have already been working this problem for months and months and months. So, not like we’re going to learn anything new here. And I think the results just proved that, yeah? Going in there was not much of an argument to say that this was a bio-manufactured weapon. You know, I think everyone knew from the start, pretty publicly as well, that either some mess up at the lab, which leaked it–which is very, very possible, um we do know about the conditions at the lab and that is possible–uh or it was something that occurred naturally. No new information, as far as I can see.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. this question is for Sean. You know, I’m sorry about drilling in this direction, but I just never get a satisfying answer from, I mean, from the news report and stuff like that. So, you know, as far as I understand, in order to determine this is a, this virus came from nature, has a natural origin, you need to have a intermediate host. So, without the intermediate host, you just simply cannot decide that. As far as I know, the intelligence community everywhere in the world has not found the intermediate host to this virus. And then how come the intelligence community can jump into the conclusion, although with low confidence, that this came from nature? Are they really just basing their conclusion on the things I said before, because China doesn’t have, seems like they didn’t have foreknowledge of this virus and also there could be many animals that could be the intermediate host? Is that what they based their conclusion on?
 
Sean Lin:
Well, I don’t think the intelligence community will make decisions solely on that aspect, but in terms of the intermediate animal host Chinese government definitely mentioned in in their collaboration with the [inaudible] investigation early this year, they mentioned they surveyed more than 80,000 animal samples, not just in Wuhan, not just in Hubei province, actually nationwide, and they didn’t find any sample that was positive in the serology test for SARS-CoV-2. And that actually was really a mysterious aspent, because if you look at the history of SARS outbreak and MERS outbreak, uh usually if you have animal infection prior to a human outbreak, usually you will see certain levels of serum positivities in the sample collected in a community. At least in the SARS and MERS [inaudible], you can find about 1-4% of animals’ samples is positive for SARS or MERS.
 
Sean Lin:
And this time, it’s like totally zero for more than 80,000 samples. This is unbelievable. And so so this this is, I think this is one of the biggest reason that many people questioned what’s going on in China, because you couldn’t identify any intermediate animal host. And even the bat coronavirus, even the RaTG13 bat coronavirus that’s identified by the Hosseini’s group in Wuhan Institute of Virology, that virus only 96.2% homologous to the SARS-CoV-2. So, that virus is not exactly the progenitor virus that scientific community will look for. And at least some, some virus samples should be above 99% homologic can be qualified as a progenitor virus. So, basically we don’t have progenitor virus. We don’t have animal sample. We don’t know exactly who’ll be the patient zero, and probably Chinese government know who, who be the patient zero, but they didn’t reveal.
 
Sean Lin:
And so anyway, so missing all this important information, of course the animal origin of the outbreak is still a biggest question. And I also want to emphasize that I don’t expect intelligence community can make a solid conclusion on the virus origin. And I think the intelligence community’s focused is the origin of the outbreak and also whether the Chinese government have intentionallly coverup after the outbreak. I think these elements actually is more important than answering scientific question where the virus come from, right? Because the intelligence community they are not scientists, even though they can consult with many scientists, but I think their role is to figure out whether the Chinese government have intentionally spread the virus out or intentionally cover up virus outbreak information. How did they lie to our international community regarding about the human to human transmission?
 
Sean Lin:
Right? So, I think this information is more important and also very important to know whether in Wuhan there was earlier outbreak, earlier than November, and how did the outbreak started. Even though it may be a small cluster outbreak in a local community, but how did it happened? These are important information. And also another element in this will be the lab safety situations, besides the WIV, about Wuhan CDCs and other labs in the area, any other lab had potential virus safety issues. So, these kind of picture within the intelligence committee can, can present better than a scientific community as well. And actually really look forward to any analysis result from the satellite image analysis. But right now the full report hasn’t come out. So, I don’t know what will be included here.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay, Nick, so…
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Actually, can I make a comment to that just to dispel an incorrect notion? Um you know, that entire National Center for Medical Intelligence are all scientists. So, they are all scientists, they’re all epidemiologists. You can’t swing a stick without hitting a PhD in that place. So but, and as you point out though, not, not only are they scientists, but as you point out, they have outreach into the entire armed forces medical community, as well as, you know, the civilian community within the U.S. Government. So, I think you’re going to get the best of our science is working on it, you know, not, not just the intelligence picture of what happened. Hey, that’s one part in the intelligence side of that. The other side of it is the actual virus itself and what are the tenants of it? So two groups, both under the intelligence community, both working this problem jointly.
 
Sean Lin:
Yeah, actually I want to also added to it. I actually interact with scientists at the national medical intelligence community at Fort Detrick. I interacted with them during H7N9 outbreak in China as well. And I understand that there are definitely scientists in there. I will just mention overall about the whole intelligence community, right? They mentioned about so many different intelligence community element, and they have different different arguments on, on different potential. So, I just wondering why actually the the whole effort was not put under a special like a commission more focused on, so that you can have a eventually have a better overall estimate of the whole situation instead of so many different intelligence community doing their own assessment. And the how how will the final result come out when you have so many different government agencies involved? I just wasn’t sure about the whole process and how, how was it done in this way? So, I just wasn’t clear to me.
 
Simone Gao:
Hmm. Okay. So, it seems like different agencies are just doing their own work. I mean, the report even indicates that.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Let me tell you how this has done. So under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, there was the National Intelligence Council and they are the highest body in the intelligence community for analysis. So, typically they do major projects which take, often take months and months up to a year to do, and they bring the entire intelligence community into it. They are the lead and the members that that comprise the committees and the working groups that support that come from the intelligence community various agencies. So, in fact, all agencies. So what happens is that you had the DNI leading this. Now DIA or State Department or CIA might look at a report and evaluate it differently. DIA says, “you know what? We know this reporting source, it has been reliable forever.” I’m just giving you an example.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
And CIA says, “Okay, but that doesn’t exactly go with some of the source reporting that we have on this issue.” And all that stuff is done across the table. They sit down and look about it, and they have to allow a process for dissenting opinions, right? Because you’re not just going to, “Okay, we all vote it’s the truth.” that group, that over, over months, that group will say, “This is what our assessment is. This is how we rate it,” you know, high, medium, low type of thing. “And By the way, there is a dissenting opinion here by agency 1, 2, 3. They don’t believe that and this is why.” So, what you’re seeing, that will come out, is that people add more weight to some sources and others. And as a result you can get, and typically not much, but you can get dissenting opinions that come out of the report. And it’s just a matter of how they view the evidence.
 
Simone Gao:
Hmm. Okay. another question is, you know, before this 90 day report on COVID origin, the Republican side of the House congressional intelligence community, they came out with our own report. And I think the Republican study group also came out their own report. And I think the Republican side is pretty much, has pretty much reached a consensus that based on the intelligence community’s report and investigation, that the evidence heavily leaned towards this is related to the lab. It’s a lab leaked incident. But from this 90 day report, it’s, it doesn’t give that impression at all. How do you explain it, Nick?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Yeah, I, I don’t know. I, I actually gotta see the full report to understand how they have you know, how they’ve done those calculations. There’s something that factors in. The fact that the Chinese government has been completely unhelpful denied, you know, even throwing this back it occurred anywhere but China, basically has not helped, you know, the perceptions and the analysis. So, how much does that influence people who are doing the analysis? Here’s an issue of weighting the evidence. The fact that China, you know, won’t give up any information towards this, has refused investigations and is actually accusing the United States of, of, of leaking this virus. How does that impact people who are doing analysis, whether they be from Republicans or from the intelligence community? So, you know, just things like that are, are, are huge weighting factors. I would tell you in experience, the congressional community would weigh that a lot heavier than the intelligence community, because that’s just standard CCP behavior, um as far as they’re concerned, and they would put it aside. I don’t know if the political dimension could be put aside when it comes out of the Congress. So, just issues like that.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. I mean, I’m going to ask you this. Do you think the intelligence community, do you think the different intelligence agencies are politicized?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Everyone is to some degree. Yeah. I think people are politicized. I don’t think agencies are politicized. But I mean, I can go back to the Clinton administration and every administration I served under in the intelligence community, we saw leaks that were occurring whenever the intelligence community didn’t agree with a political decision. So, is that politicization? Sure it is. They’re trying, you know, that, that what Trump spoke of, of that you know, shadow government, there’s a lot of truth to it. The intelligence community, or people in that community, take action when they don’t believe the policy apparatus is, is right or honest.
 
Simone Gao:
Hmm. Okay. So do you think there could be a lot of that going on for the COVID origin research and investigation?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
I think there are so many people involved with this. If that happened, you see, and that’s, you know, the valve in the system. There are so many people that are involved with this. If it was politicized, if someone changed the wording on the report, on the final report, to reflect something different, you’ll hear about it in weeks. People will start leaking information that says that’s not what the report actually said. Those types of things. So, you know, when you politicize and when you change things to suit a political narrative pretty hard to do it when you have dozens or hundreds of people involved in doing the research and analysis.
 
Simone Gao:
But what about the report itself? Could the report itself, the conclusion they drew, is politicized, is influenced by political opinions?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
So like I said, if that is, if that is influenced where, I mean, it won’t be influenced at the table, right? At the table where these people are working and they’re saying, you know, there’s this and that. If it, as it goes up through the approval chain, as I said, if people start changing wording to you know, to, to support a political process, that’s, or a political opinion, that tends to be a huge flag. I mean, it happens. I’ve seen it happen, but when it does, they’re always reverberations inside the intelligence community and there’s always discussion and emails floating about if this was changed, how could it have been changed? I’ve had my work changed by generals and, you know, it’s it, it wound up with, with organizations splitting work and saying we’re no longer working with you for that particular reason, those types of things. So, there were, there were repercussions for those types of actions. And so far it hasn’t come out, so we haven’t seen anything yet.
 
Simone Gao:
Mmm. Okay. Sean, I have a question for you. Because the report says because the Chinese government is not cooperating and we could not obtain the original either data or intelligence information about this virus, so they resort to a scientific approach. Obviously the researchers, the real scientists, are happy about that, but the intelligence community is also happy about it. Do you think that’s a right approach? What will happen to a scientific approach?
 
Sean Lin:
Well, I’m not sure what the scientific community is happy about exactly. Because even the WHO’s investigation team did not get any samples, real clinical samples or animal samples, from China and the whole virus origin, even the outbreak origin these two issues are all still mysterious to the whole world. So, what to be happy about? I don’t know what’s the end report can refer to in here. And regarding about the intelligence report at this time…
 
Simone Gao:
They, they’re, it’s not happy. It just, I think the wording is they agree, and this is a better approach.
 
Sean Lin:
Oh, okay. Well, well, I think of course, I mean, even before the intelligence community report coming out, we know very clear the Chinese government did not collaborate with any of foreign scientist investigators who want to go to China to understand how the outbreak started in Wuhan, right? They haven’t been collaborating from the beginning, even after the pressure from the Australia government from more than 100 countries during the last world’s assembly in 2020, the Chinese government has make their solid mind. They did not want to collaborate. They define the study the scope of the study, right? And they decide what kind of samples to be collected, to be studied. And so right now before the American intelligence community start their investigation, start their report I think it’s very, very clear they won’t get any additional samples from China.
 
Sean Lin:
So I don’t think the report don’t even have to mention that. Of course, ideally you can get Chinese government collaboration, but in the reality, there’s no way they will collaborate with you. And so that’s why I said for the intelligence community report, they should mention other aspect. Well, under these kinds of situation we saw Chinese government collaboration. What kind of information has been collected and what kind of analysis has been done? And of course, I look forward to reading the whole report. I really, really interested in seeing what kind of evidence did they get that, how much knowledge did they have in terms of the Chinese government’s uh, bioweapons programs? How do they make a conclusion this virus was not a bioweapon program? I don’t believe the Chinese scientist has the the intelligence or have the knowledge or the skill to develop a perfect virus like SARS-CoV-2, but I’m still very interested in how the intelligence community can make a conclusion in this way. And so what kind of additional evidence they got, I’m really, really curious on that one.
 
Simone Gao:
So, two questions. Number one: do you think those type of information will be included in the report? And second does the scientific research, uh, does the scientific approach means decades of research into the origin of the virus, which means, you know, for a long period of time, we won’t be able to know the origin of the virus? Is that what we’re seeing?
 
Sean Lin:
I think to understand virus origin, of course it’s a daunting scientific task. And, you know, for decades, we still don’t know how HIV started. We don’t know how, how the SARS outbreak started in 2003, right? So it’s always a daunting, scientific task. And that’s why Chinese government be happy to, to push the whole investigation towards this direction. And so that’s why they even mentioned that you need to collect samples in south Asia countries to get more samples, more best samples, maybe more pangolin samples in different countries. They, of course they want the whole international society spend more time on these scientific questions. But I think what’s really, really mattered to the whole world right now is how they did the outbreak study whether there was a big issue regarding about lab safeties and also, uh does any lab in China, or even in other south Asia country, pose a great danger to the whole world when these labs been collecting dangerous pathogens?
 
Sean Lin:
So I think the whole world doesn’t want to have another incident of the COVID, right? So, nobody want it repeated. So, that’s why the intelligence efforts is so critical to understand how did the outbreak studied, what kind of information the Chinese government cover up and then the U.S. Intelligence has insight, a better insight, a real insight, right? So, I think that’s critical to the whole world. I don’t care whether the virus come from pangolin or bat, or even camels or other animals, or civets, right? That part actually does not really matter to the human society at this stage. We still are battling with the COVID. So, it’s key to understand whether there will be other outbreak potentials and what did the Chinese government cover up at the beginning stage. So, I think that’s more important.
 
Simone Gao:
Hmm. Uh do you think those information about whether, I mean, how is this not related to China’s biological weapons will be included in the report that the public can see?
 
Sean Lin:
I definitely hope so. I don’t know if the intelligence community, so many different elements of the intelligence community, have done thorough investigation or analysis on China’s bioweapon programs which has been very very aggressively driven forward under Xi Jinping’s uh, regime. So, I don’t know how updated the intelligence communities is on these aspects. So, I definitely look forward to read some elements regarding about China’s bioweapon program, since they make such a conclusion in this summary, I believe they will have some information there. I just will really be interesting to see how in-depth they know about the situation.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. Nick, you have the last words. Do you think this origin of the virus probe will yield any results in the near future?
 
Nick Eftimiades:
No, I don’t. With all the capabilities of U.S. Intelligence and our allies, I should add, right? Because we have sharing arrangements all over the world with intelligence services. So, collectively, if the intelligence services of the world haven’t been able to answer that question yet, I wouldn’t wait around for it. And I take your point. I think it’s going to be like an AIDS, you know, corollary to the AIDS story where we really don’t know how it started. I mean, there’ll be a lot of speculation and, and, but I don’t think we’re ever going to get to answers. The intelligence community is not going to reveal its sources. So, to temper expectations, you’re not going to say we, they’re not going to say we learned this from human sources, or we learned this from reading Xi Jinping’s emails or anything like that. So you know, if in all this time we haven’t gotten a clear answer, I wouldn’t expect one from this 90 day study or anytime in the near future. I think we have to prepare and go forward with what we know and and our expectations of the CCPs behavior not being any different in a future outbreak. And from a policy perspective, which intelligence supports policy making, I think that’s the way we’re going to move forward from now on.
 
Simone Gao:
Okay. All right. Thank you so much, Nick and Sean. Thank you for joining Zooming In China today.
 
Sean Lin:
Thank you, Simone. Glad to join you.
 
Nick Eftimiades:
Thank you. Same here. Very glad to join you.
 
Simone Gao:
That’s all for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this production if you like our content. Also head over to my new membership site at zoomingin.tv. You can get video/audio format of my show and full transcript. I’ll also do live Q and A on the membership website, and we have a member-exclusive documentary movies on the site as well. So, please take a look. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.