[Chat with Transcript] A World Stood up to Beijing, A Conversation with Miles Yu | Zooming in with Simone Gao

Simone Gao: The war in Ukraine has brought changes to the world.

Do you think it has changed the balance of power and strategic Alliance of the major powers in the world so far?

Miles Yu: NATO is no longer considering itself, a purely regional and European defense path. It actually considers peace and stability in the Indo Pacific part of its new mission as well.

Simone Gao: But, has Xi Jinping heeded the warning?

Miles Yu: I don’t think Xi Jinping is even teachable of any lessons.

Simone Gao: Dr. Miles Yu, former Secretary of State Mike Pomeo’s top China advisor, nevertheless, suggests that Xi learns two things.

Miles Yu: Bullying a small country will never work, the United States and its allies are determined to defend Taiwan.

Simone Gao: And his words to Taiwan is:

Miles Yu: Never give in to threat and bullying.

Simone Gao: Dr. Yu, thank you so much for joining Zooming In today.

Miles Yu: Thank you for inviting me. I’m glad to be here with you again.

Simone Gao: Okay. So I know a new China Center was just formed at the Hudson Institute last month, and you are the director of it. Can you tell us a bit more about this center? Why was it formed? What is it going to do and how is it going to be different from other China-related think-tanks in DC?

Miles Yu: Let me answer your last question. First, the China Center at the Hudson Institute is unlike other think-tank centers in Washington. Uh, in that it is a product of a unique moment in US history when America’s attitude, understanding and resolve to face a formidable challenge that is the Chinese party has reached an unprecedented national consensus. Political forces from all sides, left, center and right, have all agreed on this historical shift, which is almost 180 degrees of our national policy toward communist China.

The cross of this unprecedented national consensus on China is the end of a misguided area of engagement and appeasement to the CCP and the beginning of a national awakening to the intention, capabilities and opportunities of the Chinese communist party. Uh, the party has used different ways to upend the free and democratic global system and to replace it with the autocratic model of governance led by the Marxist-Leninist Chinese Communist party, a party that has been to be frank, enabled and empowered by our decades of naive engagement and unprincipled appeasement.

So, the central mission of the China Center at Hudson is therefore to promote and preserve this historic national consensus on China to prevent it from becoming another victim of partisanship. Uh, so another unique feature of Hudson’s China Center is that many of my colleagues associated with the center are the veterans of the revolutionary change of our China policy during the Trump administration, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, for example, works with us in the capacity of the China central chairman of the advisory board.

I myself was deeply involved in that China policy revolution during the Trump administration. We will do our best to ensure a policy continuity, help the current and future American administrations, no matter which party it may be, with our expertise, experiences, and recommendations, so that American democracy will withstand the CCPs challenge. And we will win the strategic competition for freedom, human rights and world law.

Simone Gao: (03:06)
Right, right. Uh, talking about this historic moment in the US-China relations, one of the geopolitical events that has a major impact on China is the Russo-Ukrainian war. So what is your overall assessment of the war? Was it avoidable in your opinion? And, uh, do you think it has changed the balance of power and strategic alliance of the major powers in the world so far?

Miles Yu: I think all wars are weighed with certain kind of ideas behind it. I think that Russia has long held a dangerous idea. And so that idea has not really been refuted sufficiently. Therefore I see the war coming, uh, sort of in a expected. Now what is the idea? Well, Russia war against Ukraine is completely unjustified. It reflects an antiquated imperialistic Russian mentality that all peoples of other sovereign nations who may have shared historical ethnic, or even linguistic ties with Russian culture should be ruled by the Moscow civilization state called Russia.

So this justification for agression in Ukraine is very dangerous and it is exactly what the Chinese Communist Party is advocating for in the context of Taiwan. Russia and the CCP share exactly the same absurd warmongering logic, uh, both Moscow and Beijing are saying that history, ethnicity and a language should determine political sovereignty and territorial belonging, but not political independence, popular elections and international law.

So this Chinese and Russian thinking must be stopped for the sake of world peace and international stability. Now, you asked me another aspect of the war that is, uh, what does it mean? Well, the war in Ukraine itself has rendered profound lessons to all, both aggressors and aggressed. To the aggressors. It has really become a perfect case of global rallying, uh, of tremendous moral and material support for Ukraine and Taiwan against the naked threats of invasion and subjugation. Uh, just as a very familiar Chinese saying goes, “a just cause attracts great support and unjust one finds little”.

Because of this Russian-Chinese joint venture of aggression, these two countries are extremely isolated, morally, internationally, and China is a warrant that if it does the copycat act by invading Taiwan, China will be sanctioned, boycotted, and resisted severely and debilitatingly. So I would say, you know, uh, another important consequence of the war in Ukraine is that it has really taught the victimized and threatened small countries like Taiwan, that they must have their own indigenously, strong national defense forces, but most importantly, never give in to threat and bullying.

Only when a nation shows its resolve and tenacity for self defense can great international military support, make any difference. With strong self defense and great military assistance from allies, Taiwan will prevail.

So I think, you know, in the end freedom and democracy will win. But you asked me, excuse me, you asked me also about whether the war in Ukraine has changed global balance of power. My answer is not really, despite the Russia’s broad war in Ukraine. I think the international consensus that the CCP is a world’s number one threat still remains. Not only that, I think that because of the war in Ukraine, global major power players have even deepened, their existing strategic perspective by viewing the CCP as even more dangerous because of its closer and closer relationship with Russia, not just in Europe, but more importantly in the Indo-Pacific as well.

Uh, well I think this is happening because the world knows that Russia is kind of less advanced economically and technologically than the CCP. Let me just make this right clear. China’s economy is a more than 10 times bigger than Russia’s.

It has much more advanced asymmetrical weapon platforms in emerging new frontier of modern warfare. So that’s why we have seen that for the first time a global multilateral collective defense ground Alliance is slowly but steadily taking shape, with China and Russia at the center of its preoccupation. For example, NATO is no longer considering itself, a purely regional and European defense pact.

It actually considers peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific part of its new mission as well. And this is pretty amazing. You can see that in a recently concluded NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, for example, for the first time ever leaders of key Indo-Pacific democracies, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand are invited to take part in, and the NATOs 2022 strategic council specifically mentioned this PRC as one of its strategic security priorities. And that is pretty amazing. So that’s why I say the war in Ukraine has not really changed global power balance and China, not Russia, continues to be world’s biggest security threat.

Simone Gao: Hmm. In your early part of the answer, you talked about whether the Taiwanese people are ready for a possible CCP aggression. I wanna talk about that a little bit more later, but for now I have another question, you know, regarding the war, some analysts say from now to winter is a critical time for how the world would turn out. America and Europe should provide enough heavy weapons to Ukraine for them to launch an offensive, to turn the dynamics of the battlefield around.

Otherwise when winter kicks in, the ban on Russian energy will put Europe in a very difficult situation, which might undermine our result to keep supporting Ukraine and keep the sanctions in place. However, America and Europe are not determined. I mean, those two, those analysts, uh, America and Europe are not determined to let Ukraine win before winter. They’re not providing enough heavy weapons. What is your opinion on this?

Miles Yu: Well, I think, you know, I might challenge the sort of the premises of some of your questions a little bit, but, uh, let me just try to answer this way. Uh, I think European countries are realizing the importance of energy independence more and more. They’re trying not to be blackmailed by Russia for energy supply. However, I do not believe Russia is a number one factor in Europe’s energy crisis. It is a crisis.

It is a problem, but it’s not the biggest one. I think the real problem with Europe’s energy crisis is extreme left-wing woke politics. Germany, for example, is most vulnerable to Russia’s energy blackmail. That’s because German leaders for many years have purposefully neglected its energy independence, gone woke with over-reliance, unlimited renewable energy sources, basically solar and wind, you know, solar and wind can never supply enough to meet Germany’s national energy demand.

So Germany has to rely on Russia. However, you know, you don’t hear much about the French worrying about their winter’s energy shortage. That’s because about 85% of France energy comes out of its own nuclear power plants. In other words, France has energy independence, therefore making France far less susceptible to Russia’s energy blackmail, but nuclear power plant is considered not politically correct in Germany and the Germans are now in trouble, but I think they should really blame themselves more, not just the Russians.

About energy shortage and the war in Ukraine, I think the winter harshness is a double-edged sword for both sides of the war. It might be tough for the Ukrainians and its allies in Europe, but it may even be a bigger problem for the Russians. Uh, let me, let’s just say this way. If the Russians in good weather couldn’t win the war, how could we expect them to do better in harsh winter conditions, with the Europe’s legendary winter muddiness and the snowy mess, Russian tanks, armored vehicles and soldiers may well be further and further stopped, becoming Ukrainian’s sitting ducks for target practice.

Simone Gao: That’s interesting. You know, I wanna ask you a couple more question on that, but let’s just go to the biggest question. I mean, this has a lot to do with Xi Jinping what do you think Xi Jinping has learned from this war so far?

Miles Yu: Well, personally, I don’t think Xi Jinping is even teachable of any lessons, but if I were Xi Jinping, I would be aware of the following: Number one, bullying a small country will never work, as the small will gain more inner strength and external support becoming much stronger and more lethal in the end. Number two, the United States and its allies are determined to defend Taiwan, especially after Puutin’s aggression in Ukraine, because the world has realized once an act of aggression started, a chain of aggression may follow, and Taiwan should not be allowed to be the first link of world of aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

Number three, there are great limits in modern warfare because there are many variables. China may look strong, but it has great weaknesses and vulnerabilities too. So a war of aggression against Taiwan may not really be that easy to win. So you ask how the war impacts Taiwan’s strategies. I think the biggest impact is that the previously rampant defeatism and capitulationism has been further discredited in Taiwan, the free and sovereign people of Taiwan are now more united. And the freedom’s cause has indeed formed a united front in Taiwan’s defense.

Simone Gao: You answered this question. Uh, so I was gonna ask you, but I’m glad you already answered. So you think this war has strengthened Taiwan’s defense strategies?

Miles Yu: Yes.

Simone Gao: Okay. So do you think the Taiwanese people are mentally and physically prepared for a potential military aggression by the CCP now?

Miles Yu: More so than ever.

Simone Gao: Okay. Than ever, but are they prepared enough if the CCP is going to launch an aggression right now, are they ready?

Miles Yu: Well, it’s very hard to put simplistic yes or no answer, because the wars are basically kind of unpredictable, but I see Taiwanese people are more and more together. They have gained a much broader consensus on the survival of the nation, what’s really at stake. And most importantly, I think Taiwanese people are realizing more and more that they will get much, much more support from the international community.

That’s because, as I said earlier, many people, particularly countries around China, you can see Japan, Australia, you know, even Vietnam, many people view the China threat against Taiwan is just the beginning of the China aggression. If China takes Taiwan, who knows might be next, the South China Sea, China might fight a war with Vietnam, with India. So this is the reason why Taiwan’s cause has gained so much more support. Most of them sort of passively, but some of the leaders in the China’s periphery actually have said openly, they will come to Taiwan’s defense in the case of the war.

Simone Gao: Yeah. Okay. Next question. I wanna talk about the CCPs 20th National Congress. You know, the party’s conclave is going to happen in October this year, and there’s a lot of a speculations on whether Xi Jinping will get a third term and whether China’s reform-oriented forces represented by premier Li Keqiang would chip away some of Xi Jinping’s power. So what do you make of the top power struggle politics in China right now?

Miles Yu: Well, you use a very good word, conclave, which implies secrecy and furtiveness. I mean, that’s exactly what the Chinese Communist Party politics is all about. It’s very, very undemocratic, it’s very non-transparent. You asked me the question the result, Li Keqiang up or down, Xi Jinping in or out. You know what, I don’t know and I don’t care. What’s going on inside the Byzantine labyrinth of CCP power struggle, inside the ruling elite should never be the Chinese people’s top preoccupation. I know the CCP has exerted an iron group over the Chinese people, but if the Chinese people do not play into the CCPs game and consider the CCP intellectually irrelevant, then we will see real progress in China.

To me personally, whether Xi Jinping stays or gets out, whether Li Keqiang gets in or out, it doesn’t really matter. They are all communist, dedicated to one and only objective, that is to preserve the longevity of the CCP dictatorship. We should also keep in mind, even the most reform minded, Chinese communist leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping would never hesitate for a split second in ordering the massacre of the Chinese people, just as what happened in 1989 Tiananmen Square. So the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre should have waken up the Chinese people to this simple fact: for the CCP to prolong, the Chinese people must suffer and die. There’s no other arrangements.

Simone Gao: I know you came to America. I don’t know when, but you had experienced or heard. I mean, I know you had a deep memory and a lot of thinking regarding the Tiananmen Massacre happened in 1989. Can you just tell me a little bit, whether, I mean, before and after, like how your thoughts on China have changed because of the event?

Miles Yu: I think, you know, many people who experienced the 1989 momentous events in Tiananmen and elsewhere, like the Eastern Europe and Soviet Union, all share something in common. And that common experience is this: that is, a communist rules all have something similar. That is, they rule people with fear. They instill tremendous fear to its people. So people were afraid of doing this and doing that. They were afraid ofspeaking up.

So the true meaning of Tiananmen movement is that for seven weeks people of China, center in Tinanmen square were more or less free of fear instilled by the Chinese Communist Party, those were the freest seven weeks in the history of a Chinese communist regime. So I think that’s why even though it’s a short-lived seven weeks of glory, but that seven weeks gave a lot of people freedom and an individual who tests freedom, no matter how briefly, would never be the same person again.

Miles Yu: That’s why Tiananmen is a momentous moment, not just for any particular individuals who actually participated in that, but also is a moment of awakening to a generation of people, even to generations to follow. And that’s also why the Chinese Communist Party has done its utmost best to wipe out any memory, any commemoration of the Tiananmen movement. And that’s tragedy. Our job as an individual citizen of the world is to keep the memory alive and to understand and appreciate the true meaning of the Tiananmen movement of 1989. That is freedom. So I think that freedom can mean, many things to many people, but that’s my understanding.

Simone Gao: Right. And do you think China will ever regain its freedom?

Miles Yu: Oh yeah. I remember one of the most moving moments in my memory, in the immediate aftermath of Tiananmen, was the American singer, Joan Baez, she composed a very emotionally charged song. And I think the song, the lyric repeats over and over again, it says just simply that China shall be free.

Simone Gao: Okay. All right. Thank you so much. Doctor Yu, these are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

Miles Yu: Well, good luck with your program and thank you for having me today.

[Chat with Transcript] How China’s Telecoms Steal America’s Most Sensitive Information and What Needs to Be Done About It?

Simone Gao:
On July 25, CNN published an exclusive report that revealed a dramatic escalation of Chinese espionage on US soil over the past decade. The Report says Since at least 2017, federal officials have investigated Chinese land purchases near critical infrastructure, shut down a high-profile regional consulate, that is, the Chinese Consulate in Huston. The US government believed it to be a hot bed of Chinese spies and stonewalled what they saw as clear efforts to plant listening devices near sensitive military and government facilities.

The report also highlighted Huawei, China’s biggest telecommunications company that was once poised to take over the world 5G deployment until the America-led coalition stopped it. The report says the FBI uncovered Huawei  equipment atop cell towers near US military bases in the  rural Midwest. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the FBI determined the equipment was capable of capturing and disrupting highly restricted Defense Department communications, including those used by US Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear weapons.

It’s unclear if the intelligence community determined whether any data was actually intercepted and sent back to Beijing from these towers. Sources familiar with the issue say that from a technical standpoint, it’s incredibly difficult to prove a given package of data was stolen and sent overseas.

It is significant that this report came after Hua Wei’s 5G ambition had been shattered by the U.S. government two years ago. The defeat of Hua Wei in 5G was a great victory on the side of the free world. Many people think the threat posed by Huawei is gone. But is it really? To find out the answer, I spoke with Keith Krach, former under secretary of State for the Trump administration, who was behind the Hua Wei take down operation, about this matter and more.

Simone Gao:
Do you think Huawei still poses a significant national security threat to America right now and what should be done about it?

Keith Krach:
Absolutely, Simone, and I am sure our intelligence agencies and the Defense Department are monitoring this closely, but it should be shut down immediately. You know, Huawei is an arm of the Chinese government. They have some of the most sophisticated capabilities in the world to do all kinds of things that might not be detected. And obviously the information in that area is some of the most vital to our national security. We’re talking about the nuclear arsenal and it ranks absolutely near the top in terms of the kind of information the CCP wants, that information is priceless.

Simone Gao:
You are the person who executed the Huawei take-down operation and later expanded that approach to create the clean network. What are the essential facts you learnt about China’s technological aggression from that operation and what is your core strategic response to that aggression?

Keith Krach:
Well, Simone, here’s what I learned: that Huawei is the most important company to the CCP. It’s the backbone for their surveillance state. They’re the national champ in 5G. And you know, this tool is a tool that, you know, the worst of dictators could have only dreamed of, you know, they use this in Xinjiang, they use it literally everywhere. They test it out in Xinjiang, they monitor all the people in China. Now they’re exporting it like, dictator out of the box. And you know, it seemed two years ago was inevitable that the CCP’s master plan to control 5G was absolutely unstoppable. But as you pointed out, the Clean Network Alliance of Democracies ended up defeating this master plan. And, you know, the interesting thing is they’ve tried to use this everywhere and they will stop at nothing.

Keith Krach:
You know, the other big area, and Huawei has a subsidiary in this area is underwater cable, because there you can literally tap at anything. And I’ll tell you what we found out as we went around the world, building that Clean Network Alliance of Democracies, which has now formed the basis for president Biden’s internet declaration, is that nobody trusts the CCP and that’s their biggest weakness. And, you know, if you look at the information that 5G networks carry, you know, we’re not just talking about a smartphone, we’re talking about sanitation systems, utility grids, power systems, internet of things, manufacturing processes. This is vital. So, you know, we have to stay on top of this as democracies all around the world.

Simone Gao:
I understand recently you formed the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy and the Global Tech Security Commission. I believe they are the continuation of your response to China’s technological aggression. So can you tell us more of the thoughts behind these efforts?

Keith Krach:
Sure, Simone. You know, the key to securing freedom for this next generation is securing technology and tomorrow’s tech must be trusted tech and developed by a global trust network of like-minded countries, companies, and individuals who respect the rule of law, human rights, labor practices, the environment, respect for property of all kinds, and of course, respect for national sovereignty. And, you know, the objective is to develop the definitive global tech security strategy to safeguard freedom through the adoption of trusted technology, by designing a set of sector specific strategies, as well as taking an integrated approach that democracies can adopt to counter techno-authoritarianism. So three factors make up the commission’s scope uniquely, strategic in terms of countering those threats. First, the commission will focus on in-depth strategies in the 17 critical tech sectors that the White House name.

Keith Krach:
Basically the same ones that we used in the last administration just broken up a little bit differently. And the key is to integrate those into an overarching tech strategy. The second is, the scope is gonna be global and also private sector led, with commissioners from international companies and institutions. And we will represent more than a dozen countries as parts of democracies’ common efforts to compete in this emerging technology space. You know, the third thing is while previous commissions have primarily focused on analysis of the problems with recommendations limited to defensive policies, the global tech security commission will integrate offensive and defensive strategies and it will be beginning to build a global tech trust network, kind of carry on that Clean Network Alliance of Democracies, as well as defining overarching tech trust standards. And the objective is to accelerate the adoption of trusted technology,

Simone Gao:
Right. One of the strategies Global Tech Security Commission features is that the scope of the operation will be global and private sector led. Why is that? Why should the private sector instead of the government lead the effort?

Keith Krach:
So, first of all, Simone, the commission’s global tech security strategy is designed to complement recent multinational efforts that are led by governments to counter authoritarianism, such as the Indo-Pacific economic framework and the future of the internet declaration, as I talked about before. And by building a public- private coalition to promote democratic trust principles and digital trust standards and the widespread adoption trusted technology, you know, this is gonna have a really, really big impact. You know, one of the things that we’re seeing is, you know, some of the most prominent board members in the United States are demanding from their CEOs a China contingency plan, with the heightened risk of a conflict between China and Taiwan. There’s no doubt about it, that secretary Xi looks at China as, you know, it dispels his myth that he’s created that the Chinese culture cannot live in a democracy.

Keith Krach:
Nothing could be farther from the truth and Taiwan proves that. So he wants it destroyed. And so this has kind of heightened that risk, and for democracies Taiwan’s role model of freedom and a lynchpin in that area in terms of global economic security and national security. And obviously there’s semiconductor businesses the top in the world, which is the most important industry. So, you know, for corporations, if there’s a China-Taiwan conflict, then you know, this is gonna be devastating and absolutely catastrophic for the high tech industry. So, you know, these companies are putting together these contingency plans because they saw what happened when Putin invaded Ukraine. They had to pull all their operations out of Russia, cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And they were totally caught off guard and China is 10 to 20 times larger impact, more entangled.

Keith Krach:
So this is really important for boards to demand this from their CEOs because a board member’s fiduciary duty is to mitigate risk. And just like you have a plan for a cybersecurity breach, you need to have a contingency plan in case there’s that Taiwan-China conflict because if you don’t, and you don’t actually start on it right now, it’s gonna be too late by the time if it’s after the fact. And that’s why at the Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue, we’re getting requests in terms of what do these contingency plans look like? So those are some of the areas we’re helping out different corporations on.

Simone Gao:
Right. The commission will also integrate offensive and defensive strategies while previous commissions have primarily focused on defensive policies. Why is there such a change?

Keith Krach:
Well, the one thing I can tell you Simone, is that the best defense is a strong offense. So, you know, if you look back at the global economic security strategy that we put together a few years ago, there were three main pillars of that. The first one was to turbo charge our economic competitiveness and innovation. The second one was safeguard strategic assets that would be looked at as defensive that first one offensive. And the third one of course, was to build a network of trusted partners. So that is absolutely critical. You know, a great example of what we’re doing offensively is the Chips Act, the Chips plus Act

Simone Gao:
On August 9, President Joe Biden signed into law a multibillion dollar bill boosting domestic semiconductor and other high-tech manufacturing sectors that US leaders fear are being dominated by rival China.

Joe Biden:
The CHIPS and Science Act supercharges our efforts to make semiconductors here in America. This increased research and development funding is going to ensure the United States leads the world in the industries of the future. From Quantum computing to artificial intelligence to advanced biotechnology, the kinds of investment that will deliver vaccines for cancer cures, for HIV, invent the next big thing that hasn’t even been imagined yet.

Simone Gao:
The Chips and Science Act includes around $52 billion to promote production of microchips.

Keith Krach:
Because this is investing and securing the semiconductor supply chain, which all kind of began with that 5G trifecta, which was the opening salvo for the clean network, where we onshore TSMC in the largest onshore in history, 12 billion dollars.

Our strategy for that and our hope was that it would do three big things. One is TSMC would bring their ecosystem of suppliers, which is absolutely huge, that indeed happened. The second is that it would spur the other semiconductor manufacturers we’re trying to get on board to invest, especially Samsung and Intel. And indeed that happened as a matter of fact, Samsung recently announced 17 billion dollars additional investment in the United States and then Intel, you know, less than a year after we did that onshoring, they announced a 20 billion investment in Arizona, and now they’re doing a 20 billion plus investment in the state of Ohio where I’m from. So this is absolutely great. The other thing that we’re hoping for and we really, our strategy was designed for, is that we would get universities to develop curriculum in semiconductor engineering and also much more work in semiconductor, R and D.

Keith Krach:
And that is happening, you know, at Purdue, my old Alma mater, we just announcedthe United States’ first master’s degree in semiconductor engineering. So there’s a lot of investments. It really spur that on. So that’s an example of the areas where we can work together. And that’s one of the reasons why, you know, we designed a thing called the TD 12 or Techno Democracy 12, where we could not only work on things like defensive things like investment screening and export controls, those kind of things, but also in terms of collaborating in terms of R and D ’cause there’s a lot of economies of scale there.

Simone Gao:
China is weaponizing big data against the West, applications such as TikTok collect massive amount of user data, analyzing them, generate content that tailored to individual users’ interest, get people addicted, and then try to influence their political views once the app becomes indispensable to them. So what is the best way to eliminate such a danger?

Keith Krach:
Well, I can tell you one thing, Simone, that, you know, TikTok as well as U.S. tech platforms are used as a propaganda tool by China and, you know, and why do they do that? They want us so dissension because there’s nothing that general secretary Xi fears more than a united United States. So to try to work both ends of the political spectrum or so discontent, that’s been their aim for a long, long time. We have plenty of evidenc in open source on that. You know, the other thing is two big key areas is transparency and reciprocity. So if you look at that great, I call it the great one way China firewall, where all the data comes in for their own use, including their military artificial intelligence applications, as well as their social credit score.

Keith Krach:
I mean, you look at that and then, you know, but none flows out and then reciprocally all the propaganda goes out, but the truth does not come in. And what they’re doing is they’re extending their great one way firewall to, you know, to really, you know, export that all around the world to influence operations, influence different countries, influence different political systems. So this is something where this tech state craft model that we develop while we were building the Clean Network Alliance of Democracies that integrates Silicon valley strategies with foreign policy tools, all based on this trust doctrine. That’s where that this model works in all those different areas. So that’s the key thing that we’ve gotta do.

Simone Gao:
On one side, there is the alliance of democracies, on the other side, we start to see a China-Russia alliance taking shape quickly. In recent years, Russia and China have significantly deepened their bilateral ties, with Putin and Xi going so far as to proclaim that their countries’ “friendship has no limits.” China and Russia share economic and security interests, an authoritarian style of government, and a common enemy- The United States. Cooperation on high-tech has become an important element of this strategic partnership with areas of collaboration include, for example, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, robotics, and biotechnology. Furthermore, China has also become Russia’s largest supplier of semiconductors and consumer electronics over time.

Simone Gao:
My last question, are you concerned about a China-Russia technological alliance against the West and what should be done about it?

Keith Krach:
Well, the totalitarian twins, they signed their love letter back there, early February, right before the Olympics, this pact between Putin and Xi, and, you know, that’s where they both agreed. You know, that was, that was a green light for Putin to attack and this bloody war in Ukraine and commit all these war crimes and also, you know, Russia’s backing China on Taiwan so, you know, but the bloom has come off the roses for both these totalitarian states. I think the world has really woken up that these guys they’re up to no good. And they want to take, you know, countries’ freedoms away. They’re exporting that model. Now the good news is they don’t trust each other. And they never will, you know, but I could tell you who has the upper hand in that relationship, you could see it in that love letter, is China that’s for sure. And by the way, that’s more reason Simone, why an alliance of democracies based on this trust doctrine, which is something that they fear so much because they know if it’s a battle that involves values and ideals, we’ll win every time.

Simone Gao:
Thank you. The secretary Krach for joining Zooming In today again.

Keith Krach:
Thanks so much for having me Simone.

[Chat with Transcript] Has Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Changed America’s Strategic Ambiguity? A Chat with Rupert Hammond-Chambers.

Simone:
Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chambers for joining Zooming In today.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
It’s my pleasure, Simone, it’s always a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for inviting me.

Simone:
Right. Um, thank you. So let’s talk about speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. So overall, what do you think of Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan? Do you think it will help stabilize the situation over the Taiwan straight and discourage Xi Jinping from using force on Taiwan?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Well, I think speaker Pelosi had every right to travel to Taiwan. Uh, her trip was consistent with American policy for high level visitors to visit the island. And the United States should continue to communicate with the Taiwan leadership at the highest levels of the American government. We have many mutual interests and her trip to Taipei, to meet president Tsai and some of the leadership was entirely consistent. As to whether or not Taiwan is safer or more dangerous as a consequence of the trip. Um, we’ll have to wait and see. I think the point I would make is that the PRC has been raising tensions in the Taiwan strait now for years. It is hard to determine what is a function of the PRC using American policy as an excuse to heightened tensions and what is just the PLA and the PRC heightening tensions on their own trajectory. So I’m not particularly persuaded, frankly, that the PLA reaction on the direction from the CCP is anything more than just an excuse to continue to ramp up tensions around Pelosi’s trip when in actuality they’re doing it anyway.

Simone:
Right, right. So it doesn’t matter what the US provokes, so-called provoke, China or not. They’re gonna do it anyway. If not the Pelosi excuse, they’ll find something else.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
100%. And I must admit, I know it’s not your words, Simone. I recognize that, but I reject the word “provoke”. No one’s provoking the Chinese, right. Um, countries around the world, particularly the United States have every right to have a relationship with Taiwan. And our relationship with Taiwan has been remarkably consistent over the decades, the only entity, uh, country destabilizing Asia at the moment, and particularly the Taiwan straight is China.

Simone:
Right. Right. And we do know that China has launched multiple military drills during and after Pelosi’s visit. So do you think, uh, they’re just bluffs or people should really concern, people should be concerned about those operations?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Yeah. Look, um, the Chinese have been spending extraordinary amounts of money over the last three decades or two and a half decades on force modernization. And they’ve built up a significant military capability, training that capability to make it operate at a high level is important for the Chinese. And we can expect them to continue to do that in the South China sea, in the seas around Japan and of course, around Taiwan. So that’s certainly consistent. So anyway, I think we can, excuse me, Simone. I think we can expect the Chinese to continue to do that. Is it outta the ordinary? Uh, I don’t think so. I think that the PLA are going to look to continue to do those sort of exercises.

The only thing that’s somewhat different this time, there are several things. One is the scale of it. Obviously we’re talking about major exercises in a number of different areas around the island. Um, and also what they’re doing. They’re pursuing a blockade scenario or as someone referring to it as a quarantine. I don’t myself like that word quarantine, it’s a blockade. My own view is, is that while we should certainly consider and prepare for the possibility that the Chinese would invade Taiwan, uh, as the difference between possibility and probability, I think is important to hear. The Chinese have a range of options that they view they can pursue in respect to absorbing Taiwan of which a D-Day style landing is probably the least likely and sort of operation that we’re seeing right now, a blockade scenario is more likely. And I think, you know, as a consequence, we can see them practicing that

Simone:
Hmm. Just practicing, or they will just do that and do not leave?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Oh, just practicing. Yes. It’s very, very hard to imagine that the Chinese… Well, a couple of things, one that the Chinese politically would want to maintain it. Mr. Xi wants to make his point, but he also wants to focus on his own domestic political interests this autumn. And maintaining a crisis in the Taiwan strait is not necessarily conducive to him securing an indefinite third term of power. So I think that that’s important. I think also the longer that they train like that, the more information that the US, Japan, the Australians and others can garner about their capabilities. I mean, an important point I think to note is that their ability to sustain operations is an important consideration for us, as we learn what they’re doing, they may not be able to do it for more than two or three days or four days. That might be the limit that they can, they can handle. So they would want to make their point and then stop when they’ve made their point at a high level, as opposed to trailing off, if they are unable to maintain the tempo of operations.

Simone:
Hmm. That’s interesting. You know, the Washington Post and New York Times both published articles about speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. So I mean, this is op-ed, and what their opinion is, this trip is not wise because it put the US in an unprepared state. And I don’t know, they didn’t probably use the word “provoke”, but this would definitely give China the opportunity, the excuse to, you know, do these operations, do these preparations and stuff. So they think this is a not right time for Pelosi to do this. Do you think this opinion is popular among the American political circle?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Well, in some quarters it is, certainly for those who advanced it during Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama’s presidency, when a more accommodationist policy towards China was in operation and where American national interest, as it related to Taiwan was often driven by Chinese concerns over America’s relationship with Taiwan. I would simply respond that Taiwan, excuse me, China, Beijing, opposes any, and all American engagement with Taiwan. They don’t, whatever confers sovereignty they oppose. So they’re using this as an excuse, but in the end, they oppose our relationship with Taiwan across the board, what the New York Times and Washington Post editorial pages were arguing was that we should abdicate our own interest because it upsets the Chinese, we’ve tried and tested that approach for 20 plus years. And it got us into a very difficult situation with the Chinese, where they advanced their interests at American cost. And we thought we had a new policy path that was bipartisan, that started in 2017 with Mr. Trump and ran through the first year of the Biden administration. It is possible though that the Biden administrations senior leadership is considering an adjustment to that where we return to a more accommodationist policy towards China. That would be very disappointing. And it’s certainly what the Chinese, pardon me, the Washington Post and the New York Times were arguing.

Simone:
I wanna ask you this. Do you think Pelosi’s trip has turned America’s strategic ambiguity into strategic clarity over Taiwan?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
I do not. No. I think Mrs. Pelosi’s trip is entirely consistent with a high level travel that we’ve been undertaking for you know, three decades plus, and I don’t see it as a shift in the notion of strategic ambiguity over strategic clarity. No, I don’t see that.

Simone:
And you don’t think, I mean, do you think Pelosi can represent the position of the Biden administration?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
I don’t. I think she, obviously she speaks for the house of representatives as a speaker. She’s certainly a senior member of the democratic party, which is the ruling party at the moment in the United States. So of course she has authority, but I don’t believe that when she’s in Taiwan and nor that the Chinese believe that she speaks for the Biden administration, maybe some in China are more conspiratorially driven, might think that, but the separation of powers in the United States are clearly defined. And Mrs. Pelosi doesn’t have to ask Mr. Biden permission, nor does she necessarily have to advocate directly for Biden administration policies or approaches. The Congress has typically been more forward leaning on Taiwan policy than the executive branch, irrespective of whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge.

Simone:
Hmm. And the Biden administration. Would you still say they are,, they haven’t changed. They’re still going for the strategic ambiguity.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Yes. I think that’s certainly the public position. Although the president has on three separate occasions made very clear and concise comments about coming to Taiwan’s aid if the Chinese attack, I certainly believe, the organization that I represent certainly believes that we are now in an era where US policy is better served with more strategic clarity than strategic ambiguity over American interest and our willingness to come to Taiwan’s defense. We believe that that would be a more active deterrent for Chinese action. I think ultimately the PLA while that, while they, the Taiwan military may cause some complications for them, the militaries that they really fear are the United States, Japan, and possibly the Australians acting in concert to repel an invasion. That’s the real threat to the PLA.

Simone:
Mm-hmm. Yeah. I was gonna ask you a question on that, but before that, uh, I just wanna nail down on this. So you think both the Biden administration and Congress, I mean, represented by Pelosi are still on the strategic ambiguity side. So if that’s the case, then what has Mrs. Pelosi accomplish for this trip?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Well, what she’s accomplished is, one, it’s important to engage with Taiwan at a high level. She represents the US Congress, one of the three pillars of American power and her ability to dialogue and to hear directly from the leader of Taiwan on the security threat, represented by the Chinese, the economic opportunities represented by a stronger and broader commercial relationship between the US and Taiwan are all hugely important to the US Congress and for the leader of the house of representatives to hear directly from the Taiwan leadership about what is going on, what their interests are, how we could potentially incorporate is important. She has enormous control over legislation and legislation that can have a direct impact on American interests. So 100% she has every right to go. And in fact, the fact that she chose to go will, I hope, become a precedent for speakers of the house.

Simone:
Mm, okay. So next question, in your opinion, if the CCP launched an attack on Taiwan right now, is there a chance of victory for them, even if the US and its allies intervened?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
There’s always, there is a possibility, probability, you know, it’s not zero that they would get defeated. Sure. There’s a possibility that if… it’s a lot of ifs, isn’t it. If they attacked, would they win? I understand what you’re trying to present. And I don’t want to be cavalier about the threat from China, but there are so many considerations that drive the possibility that China might attack Taiwan in that way, and then have some ability to be successful. And then what does success look like for the PLA? Um, there are a whole range of issues. It would undoubtedly be the most complicated invasion and attack in the history of warfare. So difficult is it to transit the hundred mile Taiwan straight and then land a force significant enough to defeat Taiwan and any forces that came to bear from Taiwan’s friends and allies, Japan, Australia, the United States, maybe the Europeans, the British and others. So that certainly gives China pause and is almost certainly one of the reasons why, well, it is one of the reasons why we argue that there isn’t any imminent threat of invasion of Taiwan given the complications that China faces in attacking.

Simone:
Right, right. You know, from the Russian-Ukrainian war, we learned that intelligence, good weapons, logistics, air dominance, and people’s determination are crucial. So is the US selling the right weapons and enough weapons to Taiwan? And what is the coordination between the two militaries look like?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Yeah, it’s a great question. Simone, one that you obviously know well is swirling around the US policy corridors in Defense Department state up in Congress. And in fact, we talked about it today at a session I co-hosted with the Heritage Foundation on arm sales. There is some debate about what the United States should be providing to Taiwan in the short term. There’s a lot of use of the word asymmetric. Uh, it’s actually very unhelpful. Weapons aren’t asymmetric, strategies are asymmetric. But the Biden administration has a list of weapons they would like Taiwan to prioritize purchasing in the short to medium term, maybe even the longer term. And that list of weapons, while not public, has been made available to the executive branch into some on Capitol Hill. And they’re gonna work through how to procure those weapons in the fastest time.

Some of it may come through regular procurement process like foreign military sale, FMS. And some of it may come through the legislation that’s on Capitol Hill at the moment, which would provide foreign military financing and support, in other words, US taxpayer money to procure weapons and then transfer them to Taiwan, which would be the fastest way to go about this. So the administrative work is working set up for a range of different ways to expedite delivery of weapons over a period of time to attempt to deter and complicate PLA planners and hopefully put off indefinitely any thought the PLA and the Chinese may have on attacking Taiwan.

Simone:
Okay. What about the coordination between the two militaries? Are there any at all?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
There is some, but… thank you, that’s a very good question. On that latter issue, that’s an area where there needs to be a great deal more. Two huge areas that need to be addressed are, one, training. There’s very little training that’s taking place between the US and Taiwan right now, that needs to change. Obviously the Taiwan Air Force has F16’s in the United States that operate and train. That is a good thing, but the army and the Navy have modest contact and engagement with their counterparts in the United States. There needs to be significant training taking place, and there needs to be significant efforts for the two militaries to interoperate together, to learn, to fight as one force. So I think that’s hugely important. The other piece that needs to take place of course, is interaction and engagement between senior US military offices and senior Taiwan military offices. That just doesn’t happen.

And it needs to, you know. The Indo-Pacific commander out in Honolulu, Hawaii should be interacting with the minister of national defense in Taiwan and the senior MND leadership all the time, and it’s not happening. And that’s a political consideration that needs to shift. With your permission, I just want to explain why I think the US has every right to do it. If you go back to the seventies and eighties, the switch in recognition, and the three communiques that were signed with China, the underpinning of those agreements was that the Chinese would pursue a peaceful engagement and effort to reconcile their differences between Taiwan. That was always the understanding. China is certifiably violating that at the moment with its force modernization and its military and political coercion. That should elicit a response from the United States. We are starting to see that. So claims by the PRC that we are disrupting the status quo are nonsense, all we’re doing is responding to their walking away from the commitments they made in the seventies and eighties.

Simone:
You just said there’s needs to be a lot more coordination between the US and Taiwan militaries. Are you saying they’re not quite ready for a CCP attack scenario?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Who’s ever ready for an attack? Okay. It’s a good question, but in the end, at any military, if it was asked, are they ready? They’d say, well, we’re ready as we can be right now, but sure we’d love more time to get more ready. So I understand the point that you’re making, but in the end, if China were to attack, we’d be as ready as we were that moment that took place. If they waited another year, we’d have one more year to advance the technology in our weapons or have more coordination with Taiwan. So I understand the question, but you’re only is ready each day as you can be.

Simone:
Regarding the so-called unification, is the time on China’s side or Taiwan side? Because we just talked about it, on one hand we see the Chinese communist regime is getting less and less popular and more and more isolated in the world, and international community is gathering to support Taiwan. But on the other hand, the Chinese military power is set to be catching up to that of the US. So is the time on Taiwan’s side or is the time on China’s side in terms of attack?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Yeah, it’s a great question. I think the Chinese certainly believe that time is on their side, which underscores the view that they’re gonna continue to pursue the strategies they have in place, political, military intimidation without actually attacking Taiwan, because they believe over time, that’ll result in absorbing, coercing the people of Taiwan to accept, you know, in essence political capitulation and absorption into communist China. So they believe that that’s the case. Policy in Taipei and Washington, DC has coalesced around a view of deterrents,the military capabilities of Taiwan and the United States and its allies in the region would suitably deter China from attacking. And I think that is indefinitely into the future.

Simone:
So you think in terms of the military power growth, time is on the US side because we are getting more and more stronger, surpassing, outpacing China’s growth. Is that what you’re saying?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
I think I’m saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That the Chinese believe that they’ve got time on their side, and we believe that we have the ability to create more time. So I think it’s really a push and shove match between the US and China, Taiwan and China, over how much time, or who thinks their policies and their approach is the right one. The Chinese obviously would like to press Taiwan and shorten the timeline. And our efforts are designed to try and push the timeline out, both from a military coercion standpoint, and importantly also, as well as an economic coercion standpoint.

Simone:
Mm-hmm okay. Interesting. So I want you to try to stand in Xi Jinping’s shoes right now. If he’s determined to take Taiwan, which I think he definitely is, which route do you think he would choose right now? I mean, subversion by infiltration or military attack, or both?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
It’s those two things. It’s also economic coercion. I mean, it strikes me as interesting that a huge part of what they’re doing right now, while they might have suffered a tactical defeat because Pelosi went and they didn’t want her to, I think overall, they would look at this as a net positive for themselves because two huge things have happened. One, they’ve reentered the US debate of American national interest, which will surely give the Biden administration pause as they look at other Taiwan related initiatives sending high level visitors and so on. So that’s super important. The second thing, which I think isn’t discussed nearly enough, or almost at all, is that what China is trying to do with all of this is also create a perception that Taiwan is a dangerous place.

And that would place coercive pressure on the people of Taiwan and on its economy. And that potentially it would deter global companies from engaging Taiwan and then by extension weakening the country economically. Okay, well, an economically weaker country can’t buy as many weapons. It can’t train, it’s more vulnerable. And then of course, the Chinese can step in and say, “we’re right here. You know, we’re ready to make you part of China. And all you have to do is hand your political system over, and we will make you as wealthy as you want.”

Simone:
Right. Right. Then what about that? How confident is the American business community in Taiwan? In recent years, many heavyweight American businesses have increased their investment in Taiwan. What other thoughts right now, especially after Pelosi’s visit?

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
There’s a lot of concern in the C-suite Simone, the leadership levels of American businesses, about the tension in the Taiwan strait, are they making any dramatic changes to their long term plans? Not at the moment, they’re watching with concerned interest, of course, to see what happens, but overall the course is very much set.

It’s very difficult to make the sort of dramatic changes that some might think could be made in the short term. These are long term decisions with long term commitments to capital deployment. But I do think in the next several years, if tensions remain relatively high in the Taiwan strait or, you know, close to crisis level, that companies will be making contingency arrangements to invest in other parts of the world where they, if there is this crisis in the street, they at least have the ability to shift manufacturing to another spot.

Simone:
So thank you Rupert, thank you so much for joining Zooming In today again.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
It’s absolutely my honor. Do, please get in touch anytime. Take care.

Simone:
Yeah. Thanks. Bye.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers:
Cheers. Bye.

[Chat with Transcript] An Industry of Genocide: Why China’s Organ Harvesting Can’t Be Stopped? A Chat with Ethan Gutmann

Simone: China declared that it had stopped using prisoners’ organs for transplantation, and it solely depends on organ donations. But there is a problem.

Ethan Gutmann: So they started showing these voluntary donation numbers and the curve was perfect. And they very quickly came up with the fact that this curve was based on an equation.

Simone: The transplant industry exploded in China at the same rate as the explosion of Falun Gong flowing into jails and labor camps. They, and later the Uighurs, experienced the same bizarre routine.

Ethan Gutmann: So they’re given this blood test. And then a week later, three or four people, whatever they remember, would leave in the middle, would just be gone the next day. What was their age? 28.

Simone: Reports on systematic organ harvesting from Falun Gong prisoners first emerged in 2006. 16 years later, this practice is still going on. The victims have expanded from Falun Gong to the Uighurs. Why couldn’t it be stopped?

And who could be the next victims? I spoke with Ethan Gutmann, a pioneer researcher in this field and the author of the book “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting, and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem”.

Simone: On March 17, 2006, Annie, a woman who used to work at the Liaoning Thrombosis Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine in Sujiatun District, Shenyang disclosed to The Epoch Times that her hospital secretly detained a large number of Falun Gong practitioners.

Her ex-husband was involved in the surgery to remove organs from living Falun Gong practitioners. Since then, a large number of independent investigators have investigated the matter and have confirmed that the Chinese government has been conducting state-sanctioned, systematic forced organ harvesting from living prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, for organ transplantation. Ethan Gutmann is one of those investigators.

The Chinese government has always denied harvesting organs from prisoners of conscience or death row prisoners. However, after the revelation of the organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners, the Chinese Minister of Health, Huang Jiefu, suddenly admitted that most of the organs for organ transplants in China came from executed prisoners. His remarks are widely seen as an attempt to cover up the greater crime of organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

China officially announced in 2015 that it would stop using organs from executed prisoners. But there is evidence that organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience and political prisoners has not stopped in China.

Simone: So Ethan, you said in your speech that there’s evidence that forced organ harvesting in China is still going on. Tell me about that again.

Ethan Gutmann: Well, it is a complex picture, like everything in organ harvesting; we’ve had to do it. We’ve had to learn new techniques every time because the Chinese communist party always learns. So for example, they came out and said in 2015, we are no longer harvesting prisoners for their organs.

Now, what they didn’t tell you was two things. They didn’t tell you that they had denied ever harvesting, Falun Gong or Tibetans or Uighurs, or house Christians for their organs. So they were just speaking of prisoners on death row; prisoners who were convicted to death.

And they’re saying, we’re not harvesting them anymore, but even then they were lying because in their own press, they were saying, oh, no, prisoners can still be harvested. As long as they fill out the right forms. That’s all; the only difference was what they were saying in English and what they were saying in Chinese.

And to this day, the World Health Organization and the Transplantation Society, choose to act like they actually said we’re no longer harvesting prisoners.

Simone: So they endorsed their statement.

Ethan Gutmann: Well, they said that statement in English, but in the Chinese, they said something completely different. And I can show you the references if you like, because they were all over the Chinese media. They very quickly tried to reassure everybody in the country that don’t worry. There won’t be any shortage in organs. Okay.

Leaving that aside. Let’s say the English part counted. Well, the problem was that we had been working with some Falun Gong practitioners for many years. Me, Kil ..when I say me, I mean, Kilgore, Matas, myself, had been working with some Falun Gong practitioners for many years who’d been working. Actually it was two groups who’d been trying to estimate, volume, transplant volume in China, and they had done almost a, it was almost a superhuman effort to come up with this stuff, but they had traced every hospital they could and said, okay, how many, how many organs are they harvesting a year?

These weren’t estimates. They had to actually say how many organs they were harvesting every year. But what we, what quickly what’s striking about it is that even just putting a couple of hospitals together, you came up to a figure of 10,000. Now 10,000 was the figure that the Chinese medical establishment had been claiming for almost 10 years. They’ve been saying we do 10,000 transplants a year. Okay.

So we could come up with that with just a few hospitals, but we certainly, but then we realized there were 163 hospitals which were authorized by the Chinese state to do transplants. And when we started going, you know, estimating other, looking at other hospitals, we came up to numbers that were quite spectacular. In fact, we very quickly came up with a figure of at least 50,000.

Then when you started adding in some of the hospitals, which had actually claimed they were doing, you know, 5,000 transplants a year, we were up to a number of 60,000 to a hundred thousand. In fact, truthfully the figure came out to about 120,000. I did those figures. And it was about 120,000 per year.

Now I know something about China having lived there. You know, when somebody catches a fish in China, they catch a fish. They describe it. The fish is this big. It’s not, it’s really about this big, okay. Okay. So people exaggerate by about 20, 25% in most cases. So I said, okay, let’s lower it to a hundred thousand, not 120,000, a hundred thousand. Some people have said 90,000 instead. I don’t really care. It’s, we’re talking, either way, we’re talking about a figure of 80,000, transplants per year, something like that.

That’s very different than 10,000. So there was something very wrong with the Chinese story. So if they were no longer accepting, organs from prisoners or harvesting organs from prisoners. How would they get them? Well, the Chinese got very busy and they did two things. First of all, they started to say, well, actually we’re doing more than 10,000 per year. We’re moving very quickly.

Now, now we’re doing about 20,000 per year. But they also showed the voluntary donations going up. So in other words, they were trying to match our numbers, see how this is working. Okay. This is like, when you catch somebody in a lie and they start going, well, you know, no, I didn’t do that. I mean, I did some of that, but not that, some of it, and don’t worry, it’s no longer, I’m not longer, I’m no longer doing it.

Right. So they started showing these voluntary donation numbers and the curve was perfect. It was going like this. Well, that made me very curious, but it also made Matt Robertson and Jacob Levy and a statistician, very curious. And they got together and did, an advanced statistical study.

And they very quickly came up with the fact that this curve was based on an equation, a simple equation. So in other words, it’s a parabolic curve. That’s based on an equation. The chances of real life of getting voluntary donations to go up in that form are impossible. Okay. They’re a million to one. It doesn’t happen in real life. Quadratic curves like that only occur in design. Right?

So they were obviously lying about the voluntary donation in China. And, you know, you have to say, well, if they’re lying about them, then why wouldn’t they just tell the truth?

If they had a successful voluntary donation campaign. But they didn’t. Right, so we had a problem. So right there, we knew that something was wrong, but I think a larger signal that I was particularly attuned to, because don’t forget, I had studied, done direct research on Uighurs being harvested years ago. Kilgour and Matas didn’t do that. Matt Robertson didn’t do that, nor did Jacob Levy.

I was the first person to go out and start interviewing Uiguhrs about the 1990s before Falun Gong was even being oppressed. And what I’d found was that some, first of all, that live organ harvesting had first taken place in Xinjiang, in Northwest China. That they tried it out there for the first time.

And we have a doctor who actually did that. Envor Tohti who actually was forced to do such an operation. The man who’d been shot; the body was in shock, but the man was not dead. In fact, as Envor Tohti has more recently said if he had worked, operated on that man, the man could have survived. He killed him on the operating table.

So that’s what happened. He took out a kidney and two kidneys and a liver and, and the man died; the man expired. And he was alive when he was making the operation; you know, because the blood was pulsing. That was in 1995. So we know for a fact that live organ harvesting was taking place in Xinjiang.

In 1997 there’s a demonstration in Ghulja, in Xinjiang. It was over Ramadan. They weren’t allowed to practice Ramadan. And some of the Uighurs came to this town hall to demonstrate, and the Chinese police shot a lot of them. And then they went on. There was a lot of them. They arrested them en masse and so forth.

But what we also know is that in Ürümqiin, in the capital, for the first time, they started doing blood tests of the prisoners, political prisoners.

That’s new. Up til now all of Chinese organ harvesting – and it’s not that big a program – has been taking place on, on prisoners, regular prisoners. People who’ve who’ve committed crimes; sometimes very serious crimes.

And who’ve been sentenced to death. Now, I don’t know if those sentences are correct or wrong, or, uh, you know, I’m not there with a clipboard, but I can tell you that. I’m sure a lot of those people, you know, a lot of those people were duly sentenced to death; some were murderers and so forth. This was different. These were political prisoners. These were people who put their fist in the air and said, Allah akbar.

And suddenly they’re getting blood tested. And then five or maybe six Chinese cadres arrived. Very high ranking Chinese Communist Party cadres came in, presumably from Beijing, flew into Ürümqiin, and a Uighur doctor whom I interviewed was told to go in and do the blood tests again on the prisoners.

And he said, well, why? And he said, because they need kidneys. They’re here to get kidneys from these prisoners. And he sort of, I guess, looked a little alarmed or something. And then his supervisor said, don’t worry. These are very bad people. These are very bad people, very bad people. This is for the state.

It’s a good thing for the state. So anyways, these high ranking Communist Party cadres got their kidneys . Then they left. And then a couple of months later, some more came in.

Simone: That was when?

Ethan Gutmann: Now that’s in 1997. So in 1999 …and then it sort of died off, and maybe it could have all ended there, but in 1999, China declares the crackdown on Falun Gong and declares, doesn’t even declare Falun Gong illegal, but just treats it as illegal. And by 2000 you start getting the first exams in prisons and detention centers throughout China.

And initially they were very, very scared about doing these exams. The interesting thing is in 2000, 2001. I’ve talked to many Falun Gong practitioners who experienced those exams. And often it was like one at a time. They’d go to these medical exams. There’d be a man with two armed police on both sides of them. So there was a very intense process. They were very worried about something happening.

In fact the practitioners themselves did not have any special insight as to why they were being examined. And most of them, organ harvesting did not occur to them at all.

Simone: Did they? This is in retrospect. They realize what well …

Ethan Gutmann: And now, now they were… not always. You know, one of the interesting things about persecution is that there’s a great tendency for denial. What we call denial. You know, one of the ways. Yes, for the victim, because often one of the ways you keep your spirits up or keep yourself kind of, okay, is you don’t think about the worst thing.

That’s the way some people handle it. Some people think always about the worst. Some people it’s better they don’t think about the worst. So they go, there’s no way they’d do that to me. Or that won’t happen. So for example, I did meet a woman who was one of the earliest cases who had clearly been examined for her organs. And she – this is in Australia – and she said, oh, they never would’ve harvested me. I’m too important. Okay.

Now, in fact, they were examining her for organs and maybe she just didn’t have a good match. Who knows; maybe she was right. I don’t think she was right. I think she was wrong, but who knows? The bottom line is to make a long story short here, the transplant industry exploded in China because at the same rate, as the explosion of Falun Gong into the, what we call the Laogai system of China, the prisons, the black jails, the mental hospitals, obviously labor camps…

And that explosion hits every province. Every province builds a transplant hospital. Everybody gets in on the act, the techniques improve. They start learning how to use lungs, hearts. These become common over time. So they’re experimenting with people and the waiting time for an organ very quickly goes from, you know, China traditionally had a waiting time for organs of a couple of months or something like that.

It’s suddenly two weeks or less. You know, that’s what people leave out. They say, oh, until two weeks. No, it was actually less In 2006, there are several cases of hospitals which did emergency liver transplants. That is somebody comes in with an, an acute liver crisis. Okay. They’re at the point of death.

And four hours later, they have a matching liver and it’s transplanted. And the person, the day after the person is magically rising from the hospital bed. And this is unbelievable stuff. It’s the stuff of science fiction.

And it was only made possible because there were so many Falun Gong in detention. And so many had been tested for their organs, that there was a stable of tissue types, a stable of cross matching, where you could select, you had all these possibilities and you could select from them and pull one out.

That was a perfect or close to perfect match for whoever had a problem. And you could do it that fast. So this is, this is an astounding, point even in 2006. So by 2015, what’s changed? Well the year before 2015 there’s some evidence that they were starting to run out of Falun Gong or at least young Falun Gong practitioners.

Up til then they had been harvesting Falung Gong and mainly young Falun Gong. We’ve seen the records on this. Now they’re not recorded as Falun Gong, but it’s very clear. They say 28 year old male dies of heart failure.

Okay. And I really wanna make sure your camera catches this. 28 year old dies of heart failure. What are the chances? Do you know anyone? Have you heard of anyone in your life who has died of heart failure at age 28?

Do you have a friend or a friend of a friend who’s died of heart failure at age 28? This is nearly impossible. Okay. And that is one of the reasons that 28 year-olds are so valuable for organs. But Falun Gong is aging at this point. A lot of Falun Gong …. Some Falun Gong had left China. Some very dedicated people had been killed and a lot of people had gotten older.

So at that point in nine provinces, in 2014, the police start showing up in Falun Gong homes and opening the door and saying, you’re doing a blood test. Police doing this. And they do a cheek swab, a DNA cheek, swab. The combination of DNA and blood leads you to a perfect organ match. It’s the best possible match you can get.

Simone: Are you talking about, they go to, they went to Falun Gong homes to test Falun Gong practitioners?

Ethan Gutmann: Yes. Falun Gong homes to/for Falun Gong practitioners. These are people who are not in prison. They’re not in jail. They’re not in – they’re just Falun Gong at this point. Maybe they’ve been in the head brush with the law before. Maybe they’ve had a little trouble before, but at this point, they’re just at home. The significance of that…

At first, when I heard about this story, this came out in Minghui. And when I first heard about it, I said, this is a scare tactic. They’re just trying to scare people. They can’t really be doing this. But I was wrong. They were. They were trying to select. to see if they could get them from their homes. They’re looking for young people.

Simone: Do you have evidence that people who were tested at home, forced tested at home, were taken away?

Ethan Gutmann: Well, we know we do have some evidence that a lot of them were arrested later on pretext. So we don’t know about did they, were, they just grabbed from their homes and take it away? Probably not. That’s not the way that … that’s not the way the CCP works.

They tend to not want to do things that way. They’ll sort of say you’re being arrested for this and that. And then, then you just disappear into that system. Now, as Matas has pointed out, and a lot of practitioners have pointed out too, Falun Gong were extremely vulnerable of across us because they were not giving their names in many cases, and not even saying which province they were from.

So that meant that their families couldn’t really advocate for them. And of course they were trying to protect their families from damage. Similar situation arises with the Uighurs.

But we’ll get into that briefly. The bottom line is that what this tells us that about 2014, they’re running out; they’re, they’re going low on this. Uh, and what happens in 2015? There’s an announcement that every Uighur in Xinjiang has to be health checked, given a health check.

Every Uighur above the age of 12 must some mandatory health check. People formed long lines all over in bizaars and in shopping centers and all kinds of places, school houses, and were given health checks. These were basically blood tests and other brief tests. But the main thing was the blood test. What they’re trying to do is map out the population. Han Chinese half of Xinjiang, as you know, is Han Chinese.

They didn’t have to take any tests. There was no mandatory health check for them at all. Okay. So this was Uighurs and I believe Kazakhs, I’m not even sure about Hui… Yeah. Hui too, at that time, I’m not even sure they were sort of, they were always in between. Okay. They’re giving that test. That’s 2015. By 2016, the camps have begun. And the tests are done. That’s when, you know, these people start pouring into these camps. Okay.

Simone: So 2015, they had the test. In 2016, they built the camps and they put those, people who had been tested to the camps.

Ethan Gutmann: Right. And the interesting thing of course is that the camps did, were featuring mainly young …. They were going after young people and middle aged people, they weren’t going that much after…

Simone: Not like every single one who has been tested is, is put into camp.

Ethan Gutmann: No, no, because older people are pretty much exempt from all this. In a sense, you can say whatever’s happening to older people is sort of for show. We don’t tend to think of them as great candidates for organs. You can use elderly organs, but I wouldn’t. Why would you trade an old, you know, if I needed an organ, why would I trade it for another old organ?

I mean that doesn’t make a lot of sense. The point is this … when we look at the camps and what happened to Uighur villages, for example, they became places – and many people have described this who’ve been through them – with nothing but little kids and old women. Sometimes elderly men. So it’s like elderly people and little kids and all the rest of the people are gone.

There are no young people. Okay. There’s I mean, any adolescents were in there – you know, all the way from 15 up and people of 45 were in there. The rest is just left behind.

Now, what we know at this point is that 2017, the camps are fully constructed and we probably have, and it’s very hard to make these estimates, but based on what we see from satellite technology, it’s probably at least 2 million in the camps at that point. It’s an extraordinary number.

Now I tend to use the figure 1 million, because it’s a conservative figure. It’s simple to defend. I think everybody can accept that at least 1 million people are in the camps. Even now, 1 million people in the camps. And what I did, and this is, I think, the important point I bring in here, is that I went to Kazakhstan because…

I only was interested in talking to people who’d actually been inside the camps. I wasn’t interested in family members. That’s not that I wasn’t interested, but they weren’t helpful to me. Stories about people who they … you know, my mother’s in the camp.

I mean, I can’t help with this. There’s nothing I can do. What I can do is try to interview people who’d been inside the camps. What did you see? And I asked them who went missing? Who left the camp? And they said, well, sometimes some, occasionally an old person would leave the camp because they got sick.

And I’m like, okay. And they’d say, but there was a definite group who left the camp and they were usually about 18 years old. And I said, tell me about that. And they said, well, this is young. This is very young people. Uh they’re they’re about 18 and, and maybe girls, right. And young women.

And they would, would’ve be announced at lunch, usually that they were graduating. This is the term they used ‘graduating,’ which meant that they were going to work in a factory out east, in Eastern China.

Yeah. They were not gonna come back. They wouldn’t see their families again. They were just gonna go and work in some factory. Or sometimes they were going to work in a cotton plantation, essentially a place where they pick cotton and grow cotton in Xinjiang; sometimes they were going in Xinjiang.

A lot of times out east, whatever. They would announce this. And it was almost like an award. It was like people were sometimes they even encouraged you to applaud a little bit for these young women who were going away. Well, that was done very openly but there was one other group.

They all said, well, there’s this other group. And this is about, um, talking about 10 witnesses, which doesn’t seem like much, but we only have 10 witnesses over here in the west. So these are 10 in Kazakhstan.

So I’m doubling the witnesses essentially, which is not easy. And they what’s the other group? Well, they said, well, these other people would disappear in the middle of the night. I said, well, what were the circumstances that?

Well, they say, well, we don’t really know. We except that they, we were all given a blood test. I said, when did you give them the blood test? And you know about a week before. So they’re given this blood test. And then a week later, three or four people, whatever they remember, would leave in the middle, would just be gone the next day. What was their age? 28.

[Chat with Transcript] Are Putin’s Sanctions Countermeasures Working? Chat with William Wohlforth, Part 2

Okay. Let’s talk about the sanctions. What do you think of Putin’s countermeasures to the sanctions so far? He forced so-called unfriendly countries to buy Russian oil and gas with rubles. Uh, how long do you think he can insist on that?

The EU has responded. So, that was back in March, and the EU responded and said that they would refuse to settle the accounts into rubles because essentially, if you do that, then essentially you’re in some ways kind of insulating Russia from the financial sanctions. And, um, and so far it’s unclear to me what’s happened. Putin claimed, about a week ago, that the Europeans were not settling up in rubles. So, the status of that particular move by Putin is unclear to me at the moment. In other words, the news that I had seen, and even from the Russians themselves, is that Europeans are continuing to insist on payment in convertible currencies. But the Russian overall response has been sort of effective in the near term, particularly in defending the ruble and other defensive measures they’ve taken against these sanctions. However, the Russian central bank chief yesterday, the head of the Russian state bank, I think it was yesterday or the day before yesterday, essentially said in no uncertain terms that all of these measures are temporary in nature that Russia has taken and that the costs to the Russian economy are going to be quite spectacular and compounding and escalating in the weeks and months ahead. So, you can expect the bite of those sanctions to get tougher and tougher and tougher for Russia, according to Russia’s own officials, with each passing week.

You talked about Russian central bank. The West has frozen much of Russia’s, you know, over 600 million dollar foreign reserves held in foreign banks. But this, I mean, has not really crushed the Russian economy. China won’t freeze Russia’s, you know, foreign reserves held in [unknown phrase]. And because Russia still makes money from energy sales, its economy is getting by. The ruble now even bounced back to its pre-war value. So, do you think, you know, you just said this could be successful, but it would not be long lived. Is that right?

Yeah. I mean, the ruble bounce back is the result of very high interest rates being paid on ruble holdings, ruble assets, and capital controls. I mean, basically you’re putting on capital controls and you’re turning the ruble into a, into a domestic-only currency. In some sense, the long-term effect is to cut off the Russian economy from the world even more. The more you make, uh, impose these capital controls. So, that’s essentially a limited, that’s an option, that is an option for maintaining the ruble’s value that is not going to be sustainable forever without a significant cost to Russia’s ability to act in the international economy. You know, Russia needs to supply its inputs for everything that it creates. We still live in a globalized economy. There are still such things as supply change, and Russia is part of this. Indeed, there’s speculation that even Russian military production requires some degree of access to imports. And they’re not getting any of these now and therefore the ramified effects throughout the Russian economy of their inability to obtain these key inputs is, according to the Russian central banker herself, going to be escalating with each passing month.

Hmm. Okay. What do you think of Putin’s measure to link the ruble and gold? I mean, he said that the central bank will buy gold at a certain price with ruble from, I mean, at least until June 30th.

And from whom? Who wants to own all those rubles? That’s the question. When you have capital controls on the ruble, the ruble’s only really particularly useful for people inside of Russia. So, the question is who is now holding rubles is gonna want to transfer those rubles into gold? So, I don’t know. The international finance can have many tricks and many schemes within it, but to my mind, I’m not seeing that as a lifesaver for the Russian economy. Bottom line is you have an unprecedented set of sanctions against Russia, and they do take time to work. And as I’ve stated, we’ve now had the mayor of Moscow, we’ve had the deputy prime minister and we’ve had the Russian central bank head all say that, “get ready for feeling the bite of these sanctions.They’re going to hit and they’re going to hit hard.” So I–essentially, in some sense–defer to them and their expertise. In fact, in a way, they’re kind of brave to be even saying these things since they’re cutting against the line that Putin wants to send out that we can handle these sanctions, no problem.

Yeah. Yeah.

It should be stressed that it’s not clear that any of this is going to materially affect Russia’s ability to continue to prosecute the war. So, if the idea of these sanctions is to stop Russia from any kind of immediate action in the coming weeks or months in Ukraine, that’s not their capacity. That’s not their strong suit. Their strong suit is a longer term imposition of costs, such that if Russia’s contemplating trying to continue this campaign over really long periods of time, that the costs are gonna be very, very high for the Russian economy.

Mm-hmm. If Russia stops the war, do you think the sanctions will come off right away?

I’m worried about that. I mean, that goes back to what I was, how I was responding to your earlier question about Western, how the West can help try to find a resolution. If you put Russia in a position–again, I don’t like, you know, it’s very hard to have much feeling of concern for Russia’s wellbeing given that that country is responsible for this horrific war. On the other hand, if you wanna try to find a settlement of some kind, there ought to be some thought given to the upside for Russia. In other words, not just imposing costs but suggesting benefits if they are to cease this action in Ukraine. And so for that, saying it’d be nice if these sanctions were contingent, namely saying, “we put these sanctions on you because of what you were doing in Ukraine. If you stop doing that, we’ll take the sanctions off.”

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing any kind of talk of that nature because of the first part of the Zelensky speech that you referred to some time ago, his outrage at seeing that mother looking down the well and seeing her son. The emotions that are elicited by what Russia is doing in Ukraine are so intense that the feeling now is a desire simply to punish Russia and isolate Russia indeterminately. And as much as I can understand those emotions, I don’t think it’s prudent to act in this way. I think it’s better to suggest the possibility, the conditions under which the sanctions would be relieved. Certainly we should say explicitly that if the Ukrainian government agrees to a deal with Moscow, we will certainly, at the behest of the Ukrainian government, reduce these sanctions.

Hmm. What if the Ukrainian government does not require the West to reduce the sanctions? If, they say, you know, this is your decision?

Yes. Well, that gets to this tricky point of does the West want to actually be pressuring Ukraine to accept some kind of deal that the Ukrainian government does not want accept? Do we want to tell Zelensky that, “Hey, you know, the deal that Russia’s offering right now looks pretty good to us, and we really think you should accept this deal. In fact, you’re being unreasonable if you don’t accept that deal. You’re not being a responsible statesman.” I would love it if that scenario were to happen. In other words, for this to happen, we need to have some sign from Russia that there is some remotely plausible deal, some remotely acceptable agreement that Russia’s prepared to accept. And if we see some language like that, then it’s not inconceivable to me that we would really strongly urge Ukraine to begin to talk about such a deal. But we see nothing of the kind right now.

On the contrary, I think it’s very important to recognize that we’re seeing rhetoric from Russia, from Russian commentators and even some Russian officials, that literally does sound like genocide. I mean, I don’t use that term lightly, but there’s talk that basically says any assertion of an independent Ukrainian national identity is by definition Nazi, and our job is to de-Nazify Ukraine. If you hear talk like that from your so-called bargaining partner, how can we possibly be pressuring Ukraine to accept the deal? But if Russia starts to talk more reasonably and unless this kind of, if it were to cease, this kind of crazy talk about Nazis in Ukraine, then the West certainly would be in a position potentially to put some pressure on the Ukrainian government if the Ukrainian government is the one that seems to be blocking a deal.

When you talked about the tough talk from Russia about the genocide and stuff, do you think that’s also Putin’s thoughts?

Yeah. I mean, look, Putin’s rhetoric fed this kind of talk. It began last summer with an article he wrote on the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians. Its very extreme nationalist take or view of the relationship between the Ukrainian nation and the Russian nation was in that article. And we moved on and on from there. There’s been a ceaseless strain of Russian state propaganda which supports this idea that essentially equates the assertion of an independent Russian, I’m sorry, an independent Ukrainian identity that is not part of the Russian world, that any assertion of that kind is essentially Nazism, fascism, unacceptable and needs to be destroyed. They are denying the right of an Ukrainian government or intellectual, or an educator or anyone to assert the idea that yes, we Ukrainians are independent of Russia. And in fact, we’re not really part of the Russian world. We’re part of the West. That sentiment, they are saying in Russian propaganda, is in and of itself Nazi. And that propaganda line is official Russian government propaganda. And the head of that government is named Vladimir Putin. So, he has to accept some responsibility for this.

Do you think Putin regretted his war?

I hope he does. I mean, I have no idea. He, of course, would never admit to this in public. When you are a personalistic dictator whose claimed rule in part is based on power and just the ability to continue ruling, but your claim to legitimacy is partly based on the image of a highly competent leader, as someone who is smart strategically, is a grand master of the game of politics, and when your legitimacy hinges upon this image, you are never going to admit that you made a catastrophic strategic blunder of historic proportions. However, I very much hope he recognizes that it was a blunder in private, and I hope he’s seeking a way to get out of this with a modicum of prestige intact so that he can go home, lick wounds and rethink his approach. I don’t know that’s the case, but I certainly wish it were the case.

I think Putin is a very puzzling figure. If you listen to his speech, I mean, a lot of his speeches a few years ago made a lot of sense, to me at least. I mean, he was talking about the country, the direction the country is taking, and he talks about some of the problems the West has and, uh, their way of dealing with it, and direction of the country and stuff like that. I think it all made a lot of sense, but, um, on the other side, he has this dictator authoritarian instinct in him that I think the West has not paid enough attention to. What do you think?

I agree. I actually have read and carefully studied many, many, many of Putin’s speeches about international position of Russia and how Russia has been treated, particularly by the United States. I have assiduously and carefully read the writings of public affairs and foreign policy commentators in Russia who articulate this viewpoint. And I view a lot of it, much of it, as completely reasonable, but none of it justifies what they’re doing in Ukraine. I think you can hold those two views in your head at the same time that yes, Russia has, actually does have some legitimate, reasonable complaints about its role in the world since 1991 or since 2001 or whatever year you wanna pick. You can agree with that and also say, but seeking to dismember Ukraine in 2014, fomenting a rebellion in Ukraine in 2014, and now attacking Ukraine and blowing up cities in Ukraine is not a good way to deal with those problems. So, yes, I do think we underestimated, potentially, the emotion, the degree to which Putin was willing to take drastic steps. And perhaps also, frankly, the degree to which Putin and his high command underestimated Ukraine’s position as a state with an identity of its own and with institutions that function, particularly with a military that functions. All of those are blind spots of Putin that many of us observing his foreign policy did not see as clearly as we probably should have.

Hmm. I think Putin probably had one huge miscalculation. That’s the stiff resistance of the Ukrainian people. If he thought he can get away with this, if the work can be finished very soon, very quickly, then, you know, maybe this is not a bad thing for him to do from his point of view. You know, his relations with the West and how it didn’t work out and all these supposedly grievances and stuff. If he can solve all these problems with a quick war with no real consequences afterwards, I mean, from the previous experiences, that might not be a bad thing for him. But he miscalculated how the West just solidified after the stiff resistance of the Ukrainians.

That’s right. The fundamental miscalculation had to be. The only way we can make even any sense out of what Putin did was the fundamental miscalculation was about Ukraine. Because the West’s response is a result of the Ukrainian response. Had the Ukrainians not been so powerful and brave in their resistance to Russia, had they not been so effective to force Russia to fight hard, you wouldn’t have seen this Russian, this, uh, Western response. So everything, the fundamental miscalculation, is a miscalculation about Ukraine, a blind spot, an inability to see the Ukraine that really existed and only seeing in the mind of Moscow, in the mind of Kremlin, seeing only the Ukraine that they thought existed, that they wished existed, that they imagined existed, but not the real Ukraine. That was a profound and deep blind spot that led them into this quagmire, led them into this disastrous war.

I can tell you, interestingly, there were people in Russia in February writing articles saying don’t do this thing. This is crazy. In fact, there was a wonderful article by a former, by a retired Russian colonel in the Russian armed forces who was retired from the general staff of the Russian armed forces who wrote a whole article saying stop talking about a quick two to three day invasion of Ukraine. It’s not gonna work that way, folks. It’s going to be, if you do this, it’ll be a total disaster. And he wrote this article in early February. So, there were people in Russia who could see what a disaster this would be, but it’s just Putin and his leading circle didn’t see it that way, as you suggested. The only way we can make sense of this is they literally thought they could make this thing happen very quickly, get a regime change, and the West would sort of protest and be bothered about it, but ultimately come around and accept a pro-Russian government in Kyiv.

Right. Right. So that just means Putin is isolated. He is not getting good intelligence from his people.

It’s one of the, it’s one of the problems of a personalist regime like this where the personalist, the person, the figure, the person who’s running the country has been in power for 22 years is that you cultivate around yourself, the leader cultivates around himself, people who are very compatible, who think the same way, and it gets harder and harder for people to bring to the leader contrary or uncomfortable or unwelcome assessments and opinions.

Yeah. That’s bad for Putin, but it’s also bad for the world. Let’s talk about how the world would change after this war. Do you think even before the war broke out, we were still living in this America-dominated unipolar world order?

I think much less dominated than it used to be. I still think there really remains one country in the world that truly does still stand above most others, indeed, all others in certain areas. I mean, you can see this in the financial area of dominance, there’s still layers of technological and economic strength, still some military advantages the United States has when compared to contenders, even China, but these advantages are far slimmer than they were in the 1990s, in the first decade of the two thousands. So, no question about it this unipolar era is not as robust and strong as it used to be. Indeed, I find it very unlikely that Russia would have contemplated an attack like this if the United States had been as strong and as dominant as it was in the early two thousands, let’s say,

Huh. Okay. So, I mean, America’s weakening and also, I mean, do you think President Biden played a role as well? If, uh, Trump is in power, do you think Putin would do a thing like this?

Nobody knows. I mean, that’s one of these speculations. We have no idea what role in the Kremlin’s thinking was played by, uh, their assessments of a given U.S. president. When I look at the carefully articulated analyses coming from highly connected Russian analysts, I see a rather different story. I see a story where they were thinking, you know, Biden’s a kind of realistic guy. He understands America really needs to focus on China and, therefore, he needs to kind of deal with Russia. And therefore, now is a good time to push for a renegotiation of our position, vis-a-vis NATO and Europe. And so, all of these analysts saw that buildup around Ukraine culminating in January and February as simply an attempt to bargain and get a better deal. What they did not expect, these analysts, was the actual invasion of Ukraine as it actually happened.

So, I’m not sure the assessment of Biden was, oh, he’s weak, he’s a pushover. It was more like, perhaps–again, speculating–that, oh, this president is one we can deal with. The problem with Trump was that it was a hard administration to negotiate with because it was so dysfunctional and kind of all over the place and hard to get its act together. In addition, you could argue that Trump was so hostile himself to NATO that you could calculate– again, this is all speculation–but you could calculate from a Kremlin perspective, like why should we upset the apple cart here? Why should we invade or do anything dramatic? Trump’s gonna do our job for us by, uh, if he gets elected to a second term, he’s gonna do something that’s gonna destroy NATO, which for us is a big part of the problem.

Interesting. Okay. So, we were talking about the world order after this war. If Russian, if Russia in the end is seen as the loser of this war, wouldn’t an America-dominated liberal world order be strengthened?

I think it will be given a kick in the pants. I think it will be given a little bit more, a little bit more esteem. I’m not saying you’re gonna restore this supreme self-confidence that the liberal world order had back in the 1990s when we were talking about a kind of an inexorable march towards democracy and globalization. But I do think that if Russia really ends up having a very, very costly and tough slog in its attempt to take territory from a sovereign neighbor, and if you–and by the way, and if we see that result happening in part because of the United States’ continued abiity to put together global coalitions, to impose intense economic costs, to dramatically funnel effective military technology to the victim, in this case Ukraine–if this result is seen as a result partly of American leadership, then yes, this rules-based order under the auspices of American leadership will receive a bit of a boost.

Hmm. Okay. Talking about the American-dominant liberal order, do you think there’s anything America should reflect, do you think there’s anything that America should reflect on in terms of its effort in supporting and spreading democracies around the world?

I really do. I mean, I can hold two views in my head at the same time that Ukraine is right, Ukraine is the victim, Russia is wrong, this is Russia’s war, and it is a disaster, a mistake, and, in many ways, a crime. I can hold that view while also holding the view that the United States and the West should reflect on how it dealt with Russia in the past, how it dealt with European security and indeed how it dealt with Ukraine. I mean, again, we will argue forever whether the NATO issue was really important or not important in explaining this decision. I happen to think if you were to wind the clock back long enough, back to the 2007, 2008 period, a more proactive, more thoughtful Western policy would have told Ukraine that membership of NATO is not in the cards, and we need to come up with an alternative arrangement.

It’s just possible that if we had worked hard at it, we might have ameliorated or reduced the intensity of this problem between Russia and the West that puts Ukraine in the middle of this. But we didn’t do that. We didn’t put the effort into it. We didn’t think Russia was really worth it. It wasn’t strong enough for us to bother. We had other issues. We had war on terror. We had all these other things going on. So, I do think there is a cause here for reflection on our policy for a difficulty that America sometimes has in accepting trade-offs and saying, you know, we really can’t have both this principle and also this other principle at the same time. So yes, I completely agree that this should be an occasion for a little bit of introspection and some circumspection going forward as to how we conduct ourselves.

Hmm. And also if Russia, I mean, this is another scenario. If Russia was perceived as the winner of this war, what kind of new world order are we going to see?

Well, Russia has, again, Russian officials, leaders and commentators and intellectuals have been telling us forever, really, but really strongly since 2007, 2008, that they’re very, very dissatisfied with a U.S.-led so-called unipolar type of world. They want a multipolar world. They want a European security order in which the United States is either absent or has a much smaller role. They want a much larger role for themselves. If you look at the treaties, the draft treaties, they put forth back in February, in the lead-up to this invasion, you could see the kind of order that they wanted. They wanted one in which NATO would back away, in which Russia essentially had a sphere of influence, in which even countries that are part of NATO but joined NATO after 1997, even those countries would not host any permanent NATO forces, would not station certain kinds of weapons, et cetera, et cetera, you get the story. That’s the world order that Russia wants. And that’s the world order that, if they win, they’ll seek to create. They have been very clear about this for many, many years. They do not like a U.S.-dominated world. They want a world in which there are multiple centers of power and that Russia is one of those centers of power.

So, if Russia is perceived as the winner of this war, you think an America-dominated unipolar world order will come to an end?

Well, it depends on what you mean by winner. I think the answer to that question is if they just gain some sort of dominant position in Ukraine, so they “win” in some sense of defeating the Ukrainian military and somehow getting–whatever the outcome is–a slice of Ukraine. They take Donbas. If they succeed in doing that but the rest of Europe solidifies, and Finland and Sweden join NATO, and NATO gets stronger, in no sense could you call that a weakening of this world order. It will be a much worse situation for Russia in which the world will be very much more severely divided into different camps, in which Russia will be excluded from much of the global economy, and in which Russia will be poorer and Russia will be isolated.

So, a victory in that sense, it seems to me, just purely a victory in Ukraine without gaining some sort of understanding with the West and some sort of allies within the West, within Europe, won’t get them this new world order that they seek. That’s why I see this as such a strategic blunder, because the only way Russia can really get what it says it wants, which is an equal role as a respected pole of power in the world, is by agreement with the West, by having the West talk to it and make bargains with it. But invading countries and killing people and blowing up cities makes it so much harder for the West to be able to do that. It puts a barrier in the way of any possible negotiation with Russia and makes the West inclined to just sort of isolate it. So it’s really, the invasion has really worked at cross purposes. So, to get back to your question, it’s not clear to me that a military victory in Russia, I’m sorry, by Russia in Ukraine would end this moment, would dramatically end this so-called U.S-led rules-based order that we keep talking about.

Hmm. Okay. So all around, this is a bad deal for Russia. Putin just had one miscalculation. Okay, go ahead.

Sure. When you do wars of choice, that is to say you choose to fight wars that are not really necessary, that are optional wars, and when you misjudge the country you’re invading and end up losing or not winning, it’s bad for you. So, to take an example, the United States did this in 2003 by invading Iraq. If we rewind the clock and the U.S. never invades Iraq, my guess is if we run that alternate history, America’s position as the global leader would’ve been much stronger than it turned out to be because ultimately, our ultimate failure to achieve our objectives in Iraq really hurt the U.S. position. So, similarly, a dramatic Russian decision to invade Ukraine and not get what it wanted, not get what it sought and only bearing costs, will harm rather than help Russia’s international position. For sure.

Mm-hmm. What about China? Do you think a China-Russia alliance would last? I mean, is China the beneficiary? I mean, can China benefit from this war either way?

Yes. I mean many Russian, I’m sorry, many China analysts and analysts of the Russia-China relationship tell me, and they write and analyze, produce analyses, that say that China, in some sense, benefits here in that this whole crisis in Europe prevents the United States from that laser-like focus on China that was the original intent of the Biden administration. In Washington, DC, there are plenty of China hawks who really want the United States to refocus on China, and Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has essentially distracted that. So, that side of the coin, that side of the equation, is good for Russia, I’m sorry, good for China, helps Chinese, gives China greater freedom of action. However, the costs imposed on the United States, the sanctions imposed by the United States, the deepening attention between the United States and Russia also put some stress on the Russia-China relationship and put up Chinese diplomacy, in some cases, in a very awkward position.

So, it’s a double-edged sword. But I’ll put it this way: Russia has no choice here. If it’s going to continue in Ukraine, it doesn’t have a westward option anymore. It used to. You know, there used to be this idea that Russia can kind of dance between China and the West and so on and so forth. That’s over for the time being, which means Russia has no choice. Now, if you connect the dots, what does that mean for China? If Russia has no choice, it means China is in the upper hand in this relationship to a greater degree even than before, which means China will be able to dictate, to a much greater degree than before it was willing to do, the terms of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

For example, if Russia has nowhere else to go, then China can try to, Chinese state-owned corporations and other entities that have to deal with the potential for secondary sanctions, they can tread a very careful line and try not to ruin their business plans via too much support for Russia. And they can do that and know that it’s not like Russia has another option. There’s no other great power Russia can go to. Only Beijing. And so, I think that’s going to play into the terms of their strategic partnership.

Yeah. Russia is trapped.

In a way.

Well, thank you, professor. These are all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

No, I very much enjoyed the conversation.

Alright. Thank you, professor.

You’re most welcome.