A Fusion Between Mao and Capitalism: Xi Jinping Is Setting China on an Unprecedented Path

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China Tea Time.  I’m Simone Gao.

Two days before the publication of his much-anticipated memoir Red Roulette: An Insider s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today s China, author Desmond Shum received a phone call from his former wife, Whitney Duan. Duan is the central figure in Red Roulette and had been missing since 2017, with no word from the Chinese government about her condition, whereabouts or alleged crimes.

Shum said in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, Whitney told me that she’s on temporary release and could be re-detained at any time. She asked me to cancel the book’s publication.

Shum later added that It was a ridiculous request which could only be dreamed up by some bureaucrat in Beijing, where they can disappear a book off all the shelves in China overnight. But this is the rest of the world. The book was already on the way to the bookstores,  contracts have been signed. I can’t disappear the book even if I wish to.

It is clear that the Chinese government is deeply concerned about the revelations in Shum’s story at a time of growing crisis within its borders. With the recent string of crackdowns on Chinese entertainment and corporate celebrities, IPO debacles locally and internationally, and questions from George Soros about the security of Chinese markets, the CCP was already under a glaring spotlight.

Now comes word that China is teetering on the edge of a financial crash, due in part to the potential failure of the country’s second largest property developer, Evergrande Group. While Evergrande said in a public filing that they had resolved issues related to their yuan-denominated bonds due on September 23rd, It is not clear what the company would do with the $83.5 million interest payments on their dollar-denominated bonds due that same day. The Chinese government has ordered Evergrande to do anything they can to avoid defaulting on these bonds. The conventional wisdom is that Beijing normally would prioritize paying off foreign debt due to the need to maintain a good image on the international capital market.

So the company is left with three options: a rapid collapse with impacts that may be felt worldwide, a managed dismantling of the company, or a bailout by Beijing. We will see which one will turn out to be the Party’s choice in the coming days.

The way Xi Jinping deals with Evergrande’s crisis will, to certain extent, reveal his plan for the Chinese economy. Recently, some conflicting opinions have surfaced on China’s state-owned media. One article by Maoist activist Li Guangman claimed that China is experiencing a profound reform or revolution in all aspects: economic, financial, cultural and political. Analysts believe the article was alluding to the possibility that China would launch another great cultural revolution. Days later, Hu Xijin, chief editor of the Party’s mouthpiece Global Times, rebutted Li by saying that his article was a profound misunderstanding of the central government’s political direction.

Who is right? What is really on Xi Jinping’s mind? To understand Xi s plan, we must first understand the great shift in America s China policy since the Trump administration. It is no coincidence that Xi began to target and reform the domestic platform economy at the same time he began efforts to partially close the country. Xi believed both were necessary to redirect China to a different path, one that would differ dramatically from the one China has travelled smoothly for decades towards economic and political supremacy.

That path had been forged through state subsidies, state-supported intellectual property theft, and state-supported forced technology transfer carried out in a globalized market and largely ignored by Western powers who believed China would become a free country after it became a free economy.

Under those conditions, China’s economy and national power had grown rapidly. But Trump’s trade war and the coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed Western thoughts on Communist China. Xi realized that their seat at the grand feast of globalization, the access that had empowered Communist China, had been removed.

For some leaders, that might have been a fatal blow to their regime. But for Xi Jinping, it was the excuse he needed to redirect China onto the path he had envisioned long ago, a path very different from his predecessors. In Red Roulette. Shum paints the eras of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao as a time of forward momentum, a time when capitalists like himself and his then-wife, Whitney Duan, could see the critical role they played in China’s modernization. They were creating the new jobs China needed to become a world leader. They were creating, and enjoying, the wealth that comes along with it. Things were improving. Today was better than yesterday, and this year better than last year.

It was not only the political or economic elite that felt that way. All of China seemed to be taken up with the same optimism. Citizens throughout the country felt that China was moving toward a more open and free society, a path most supported, even within the Communist Party. While Mao Zedong had once put capitalists at the bottom of Chinese society, his successor Deng Xiaoping improved their status. And on July 1, 2001, then-General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Jiang Zemin, delivered a speech welcoming everyone, including capitalists, to join the Party, allowing them to enter the margins of political power.

But capitalists would not be willing to stay at the margins of that power for long. Shum points out that, at the top of the Party, elites had been preparing for this change. In private conversations, top-level officials like vice premier Wang Qishan shared their views that at a certain point, the Party would be forced to accept large-scale privatization and that Party elites and their inner circles should set aside capital so that they were prepared to invest when that time came.

Wang Qishan had been at the center of China’s reforms for decades. In 1993, China’s economy was in crisis due, in part, to $1.4 trillion yuan ($217 billion US) in non-performing loan debt between the four state-owned banks. China’s state-owned banks and state-owned enterprises were in urgent need of funds. Wang stepped in, working with Goldman Sachs on a deal that allowed China Telecom, a massive state-owned enterprise, to go public on the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, providing critical financial relief through international investments.

But what felt to Goldman Sachs and American investors like a mutually beneficial arrangement that could lead to the privatization of China’s economy was nothing more than an effort to save state-owned enterprises, allowing them to secure the Communist Party’s rule.

This was a realization that would only come many years later, during the Trump era. America had finally opened its eyes to the understanding that they had not changed China’s political system through their economic efforts.They realized that China remains a totalitarian Communist regime despite its booming economy.

Though Western leaders may have felt this as a victory for the Communist Party, even those inside of China, including reform-minded Party leaders, began to express concern. On March 14, 2012, at the last press conference of his State Council, Premier Wen Jiabao spoke from the heart for the final time in his tenure. In response to a reporter’s question, Wen said If China does not carry out political reforms, the achievements of China’s economic reforms so far will be in vain, and China is likely to repeat the mistakes of the great turmoil of the Cultural Revolution .

These are very heavy words, and they touched a nerve for the CCP. Political reform is a sensitive idea in China, one that carries connotations of moving toward freedom and democracy while demolishing the one-party dictatorship. Wen Jiabao did not specify the type of political reforms needed, but Chinese citizens had enough experience with global markets and capitalism to know what he likely meant. He added that if political reforms were not carried out, the achievements of China’s economic reforms would be in vain.

There is a fundamental contradiction between the market economy and the ideology of communism. A functioning market economy requires political systems that guarantee individual freedoms and rights. The right to hold, and be able to protect, private property. The assurance of fundamental human rights. The knowledge that an independent judiciary will protect those rights. The empowerment of knowing that truly democratic elections will ensure that the people will choose those who oversee the preservation of these rights. That system is vastly different from the rule of the Communist Party.

Without real reform, then, the contradiction between the political regime and the economy will fracture China and, because the CCP wants to protect its political system, it will destroy the market economy. Wen concluded by saying that, should that happen, China is likely to repeat the mistakes of the great turmoil of the “Cultural Revolution.” Wen recognized that China was moving toward more openness and more freedoms, and he realized that if the market economy continued to develop, the contradictions between communism and free market enterprise would restrain what China truly could become. Faced with that situation, he wanted to change the political system, not the economy.

The political reform Wen talked about was never carried out. That’s why, at the start of the Trump administration, the clock had finally run out for the Party. Trump demanded a change. I agree, for the most part, with the claim that the engagement policy has not made China a free country. However, that claim makes it seem like there has been no change in China’s political system at all, and that is not true. Yes, China remains an authoritarian state, but big changes have happened, including how the Chinese people view the legitimacy of the Party’s rule.

In the Mao era, the Party was believed to have heaven’s mandate. The legitimacy of the Party’s rule was unshakable and so was the Communist ideology. Though the Party’s policy had caused the deaths of tens of millions of people, the Party remained in power and unchallenged.

That natural legitimacy has gradually eroded since the reforms that opened China. During the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao eras, the Party’s legitimacy shifted. It is now based solely on its capability of bringing economic prosperity. The Communist Party knows that if the economy sharply declines, unemployment rates rise, and the bureaucracy stops working for the people due to the lack of corruption money, their ability to rule will be reduced or lost altogether. On top of that, Chinese people are losing their faith in the Communist ideology itself.

That reality is precisely what Xi Jinping refuses to accept. He has a new plan for China which we will explain in our future programs.

That’s all for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China Tea Time. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this program if you like my content. Also, head over to my new membership site at zoomingin.tv. You can get video/audio formats of my shows, full transcripts, and in-depth reports available only to members. I will also do live Q & A shows with members on the website. Just $5 a month or $50 a year. Please check it out. Thanks for watching and

I will see you next time.

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

(YouTube subtitles transcription)

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

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

Xi Jinping Controls Private Industry in China | Zooming In China

Simone Gao: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Zooming In China Teatime. I’m Simone Gao.

Billionaire investor, main proponent of globalism,  and a frequent critic of Xi Jinping’s regime, George Soros, spoke out again on Monday. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Soros targeted BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, for their “major initiative” in China, including their launch of mutual funds and other investment products for Chinese consumers and their direct recommendation offered weeks earlier to US clients to “triple their allocations in Chinese assets.”

Soros’ major charge against BlackRock is that they “misunderstand President Xi Jinping’s China” and so “have taken the statements of Mr. Xi’s regime at face value.” In doing so, they assume there truly is a distinction between state-owned and privately owned companies. This mistake, notes Soros, is a “tragic” one that “is likely to lose money for BlackRock’s clients and, more importantly, will damage the national security interests of the US and other democracies.”

As I mentioned at the very beginning of the program, George Soros is the main promoter and beneficiary of Globalism. He had a good relationship with previous CCP leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin who opened up China and engaged China in globalism. Soros’ motive to criticize Xi, as much as opposing Authoritarianism and protecting American investors interests, is to rid a real threat to globalism, Xi Jinping. This explains his sudden barrage of attacks against Xi while he kept silent over the years when Wall Street Invested in China. The globalists saw Donald Trump as a major enemy in the past four years. Now Trump is gone, but there comes a Xi Jinping who is worse than Trump. He is going to shut the door of China. This can not be tolerated. Nevertheless, I agree with his critique of Xi Jinping.  Let’s go back to Black Rock.

BlackRock responded on Wednesday, arguing that “The United States and China have a large and complex economic relationship… Through our investment activity, US-based asset managers and other financial institutions contribute to the economic interconnectedness of the world’s two largest economies.”

And if it is interconnectedness they are after, BlackRock is in deep. They are the only foreign-owned business the Chinese government has approved to operate a wholly owned company in China’s mutual fund industry, that approval being granted in June of this year. Their first fund in China launched after they raised $1.03 billion from more than 111,000 investors. All in a time of increasing distrust between these two economic superpowers.

We might be able to view that as a bridge between nations if not for BlackRock’s other investment activities. After the Vanguard Group returned $21 billion dollars in assets they managed for Chinese government clients, including $10 billion each for China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange and the China Investment Corp. sovereign wealth fund and $1 billion for the national pension fund, the bulk of those investments were expected to be transferred to BlackRock. For an American company to have this kind of access not just to Chinese citizens’ investments but also to Chinese state-owned assets is not just interconnected. It is unprecedented.

In their focus on interconnection between the companies, BlackRock doesn’t dispel Soros’ point. They prove it. To suggest that a mutually beneficial relationship can be built within Xi Jinping’s China is to assume his regime operates in ways similar to his predecessors. And that misunderstands Xi Jinping, a man Soros argued last month in another piece for the Wall Street Journal was “the most dangerous enemy of open societies in the world.” It also ignores Xi’s vision for his leadership and legacy, a vision that requires a direct march towards dictatorship.

The threat posed by China is not a result of the Chinese people themselves, nor is it a direct threat by all members of the CCP. As a recent publication by the Atlantic Council noted, “China, under all 5 of its post-Mao leaders prior to Xi, was able to work with the U.S.” The threat is Xi Jinping and his inner circle, strengthened and protected by their personal military, the PLA. And that threat is a threat to all, both outside and inside of China.

In the mind of Xi, the prior regimes were weak, too willing to pander to the ways of the Western world, ways that—in his thinking—would lead to a loss of legitimacy for their one-party rule system. To Xi, this shift was inexcusable, especially in the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, the man who had banished Xi’s father from his position as Vice Premier for disloyalty, leading to a time of social castigation for the Xi family and eventually a 7-year reform for Xi Jinping himself, much of which was spent in doing farm labor and living in a cave in the Shaanxi region, at one point going months without meat for nourishment. What Xi took from those years was an aversion to any sign of weakness, an extremist view of the need for nationalism, and a mission to undo what Deng had designed.

Deng saw opportunities to work with the more developed Western world. Rather than being staunchly opposed to Western systems, Deng believed China could rise within them and then surpass them. Because of that belief, Deng ushered in membership for China in the World Trade Organization in 2001, leading to the unprecedented growth Xi would later inherit.

With that growth, Xi inherited a people accustomed to it. Wealth was flourishing, as was fame and influence. Chinese citizens became comfortable living under one-party rule while keeping a toe in the Western capitalistic system. So, the likelihood that Chinese citizens, and especially the economically elite, would fall in line with Xi’s proposal to undo Deng’s social and business structures, and thus his gains, was slim, a fact Xi was aware of when he came to power in 2012. Knowing his mission would be met with resistance, especially from those who had benefitted from Deng’s systems, he knew he would need more than the two five-year terms allotted him under the current system. He knew he would need the power and the permanence of a dictatorship.

And that is exactly the path Xi is pursuing. In perhaps his most poignant point, George Soros argues that “Mr. Xi realized that he needs to remain the undisputed leader to accomplish what he considers his life’s mission…. He intends to overstep the term limits established by Deng, which governed the succession of Mr. Xi’s two predecessors, Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin.” And “because many of the political class and business elites are liable to oppose Mr. Xi, he must prevent them from uniting against him. Thus, his first task is to bring to heel anyone who is rich enough to exercise independent power.”

We have seen that strategy play out with increasing fervor as the threat of 2022 draws nearer. Where a hallmark of Deng Xiaoping’s leadership was the opportunity for China’s communist system to incorporate a market orientation where state-owned companies could exist alongside private enterprise, Xi has recognized the power and influence of public companies and wealthy investors, the kind of influence that could dismantle his regime and destroy his mission.

To be fair, Xi does not intend to get rid of the market economy altogether. He needs the livelihood of capitalism to keep the Chinese economy going. Only, he is putting the market economy under a structure the Party designs and dominates.

So, Xi attacked first and, for a while, the world failed to notice. Until he cancelled the IPO for Ant Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba, and its founder, Jack Ma, briefly went missing. Though Ma has resurfaced, his ongoing silence and his removal from the top spot at Alibaba have garnered international attention and concern. Then came Didi’s disastrous IPO followed by additional crackdowns, first on other US-listed Chinese companies then on China’s tech giants. The Wall Street Journal reported four leading companies, including Alibaba, Kuaishou Technology, Meituan, and Tencent lost about 20% of their market capitalization in July because of these crackdowns. And also in July, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced a new six-month campaign specifically to regulate internet companies.

Alongside crackdowns on market offerings have come landmark fines, stripping these companies of the wealth they could otherwise use to challenge the regime. Alibaba was fined a record $2.8 billion in April for alleged anti-monopoly violations. The Chinese government is considering a $1.54 billion fine against Tencent for failing to properly report past acquisitions and investments. And they are currently considering “unprecedented penalties” against Didi that reportedly may exceed even the Alibaba fine. But the tech giants are not alone in these fines. Billionaire Sun Dawn was recently “persuaded” by government officials to donate the bulk of his wealth to charity as he began an 18-year prison sentence, stripping wealth his family might have used to oppose Xi’s regime in his absence. The same fate has awaited many of the wealthiest Chinese citizens.

But money is not the only thing being seized by Xi. Entire companies are being stripped from founders and are now controlled by the Chinese government. In the case of Wu Xiaohui, who married a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping, his Anbang Insurance Group was seized by the government in 2018, as Wu began his own 18-year prison sentence. And Xiao Jianhua had nine subsidiaries under his umbrella company Tomorrow Group seized in July of 2020. Those companies are said to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

There is no word on where the money from these, and other, fines and seizures has gone or what it may be used for. There is also no word on the whereabouts of many of the wealthy elite founders associated with these companies. Xiao Jianhua was taken from a luxury hotel in Hong Kong by 12 men in the early hours of January 27, 2017, and while reports have said he is now under house arrest on the mainland, there is no evidence to his whereabouts and no verifiable activity by Xiao. The list of China’s wealthy elite who have disappeared is rapidly expanding as Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the Chinese Communist Party.

And no sector is safe. Alongside the crackdowns on tech giants over the summer leading to more than $1 trillion loss for Chinese tech stocks came a ban on for-profit tutoring in the country that wiped out the private education industry virtually overnight. “This is clearly not a sector-by-sector rectification; this is an entire economic, industry and structural rectification.”

There is more to come. Michael Shou, general manager of an on-demand English tutoring platform, said “I do believe we are seeing a profound transformation of society, especially given that the government has implemented definitive and strict regulatory measures in such a short amount of time and in so many different industries.”

Now the question is if Xi Jinping is contested domestically? I believe he is, and in big ways. The way Chinese society works is that you won’t see different political views get presented and argued in newspapers or tv programs usually. Everything is done behind the closed doors.  When different views are presented and criticized, the fighting is already over.

The Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China will be held in Beijing in November this year. The rumor has it that the conference will launch the third historical resolution in the party’s history which will likely endorse the Xi Jinping route that dictates how Chinese society progresses in all aspects. Before that happens, the fighting will continue. George Soros’ barrage of attacks against Xi is not unrelated to the whole picture. After all, Xi is a common enemy of most elites on this planet.

That’s all for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China Tea Time. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this channel if you like our production. Also, head over to my new membership site at zoomingin.tv. You can get video/audio formats of my shows, full transcripts, and in-depth reports available only to members. I will also do Q & A with members on the website. Just $5 a month or $50 a year. Please check it out.

The Real Reason Xi Jinping Is Going after Chinese Stars | Zooming In China

Welcome to Zooming In China Tea Time. I’m Simone Gao.

Last week, Zhao Wei, the name of one of China’s most famous and influential actresses, was erased from the Internet by Chinese government officials. The order came without warning from the state-run regulator for entertainment, the National Radio and Television Administration, and included all social media sites, fan pages and posts on platforms like Weibo as well as all content featuring her—including movies, TV shows, chat show appearances and more.

While the order was clear, the reason was not. And because no official reason was given for the order, the rumor mill ran wild. State-run news source Global Times hinted that it may have something to do with the financial scandals she was embroiled in over the years but gave just one example.

Other online sources suggest that there may be an issue of tax evasion, like her fellow My Fair Princess co-star Fan Bingbing, China’s highest-paid actress, who disappeared from public view in 2018. Beginning in July of that year, Fan’s social media pages went idle, paparazzi couldn’t locate her, and friends and family couldn’t say where she was. It wasn’t until she resurfaced in October that the world learned of Fan’s true fate: she had been detained while Chinese authorities investigated her for tax evasion. She was ultimately released but fined $127 million dollars. 

Still others believe it may be because of her connections to high-level corporate and political figures. Zhao Wei and her husband are close friends with Jack Ma, the Alibaba founder who has been under deep scrutiny by the Chinese government, and were early investors in his Alibaba Pictures Group, buying a $400 million stake in 2015. 

There are many unknowns that circle Zhao Wei’s public erasure, and her whereabouts is one of them. But after photos were published suggesting she had fled with her husband to France, Zhao finally spoke up. She posted a photo of a childhood toy on her Instagram account, saying “The best season to chat with mom and dad. It’s like I’ve never grown up before, so good.”  However, within hours, that post, too, was removed.

This issue does not impact Zhao Wei alone. Zhao Wei was removed from social media and streaming services. Zhang Zhehan was blacklisted. Zheng Shuang was fined $46 million for tax evasion. Ruby Lin and her husband Jianhua Huo have closed their studios in China. Zhao Wei’s friends in the celebrity circle urgently deleted all Weibo posts related to Zhao Wei. It is clear how scared they are. What crime did each of these people commit? 

Chinese leadership claims the series of crackdowns on China’s celebrities are an effort to control the “Fans culture” of celebrity worship and restore moral behavior to the youth of the country. They said that celebrities need to become “positive energy idols” and need to assume responsibility for guiding the mainstream values of young people in China.

I think the real reason for CCP leaders to launch these attacks goes beyond the idea of punishing financial wrongs or curbing errant youth morality. I think this turmoil in the entertainment industry is part of Xi Jinping’s long-term plan for CCP’s dominance in all aspects of Chinese society. Xi Jinping requires that his way of thinking be the core around which the Chinese economy and society function. We see that in his Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, policies pulled from his writings and speeches and now published widely and formally taught in schools of all levels. Simply put, he is trying to comprehensively transform China toward that thought, and he sees the remediation of the entertainment industry as a prerequisite to that goal.

To talk about Xi Jinping’s transformation of China, we must first start with a phenomenon: the rise of “Little Pink,” a group of nationalistic and technologically savvy youth that have become a forceful presence on social media. The term, as it is now used, was coined by Weibo blogger Daguguguji. In the summer of 2015, he began using the phrase “your country” to separate himself from the party-state mentality in China. That term sparked outrage from many other users, including a group of young women who were members of the popular Jinjiang Literature City site, called “little pink” because of its pink background. Daguguguji began using that nickname as an insult to their nationalistic ideals. That term exploded in popularity in January 2016 after the Di Ba Expedition where Chinese users, this time male and female, flooded Taiwanese social media with attacks on Taiwan’s presidential election.

 Liberal Chinese author Wang Wusi suggests that one factor in this group’s aggressive nationalism may be found in their class status, saying “It can be analyzed that most of the little pinks came from third- and fourth-tier cities, or followed by their parents to work in first- and second cities, and belong to the middle and lower classes of society.” He also cited psychologist Tang Yinghong’s perspective that strong patriotic feelings “usually appear in the middle and lower social economy, because ‘patriotism’ will enhance their sense of self-esteem.

I would add that the large number of small pinks is related to the timeline of the changes in Chinese people’s thinking. In the Hu Jingtao and Wen Jiabao era, before Xi Jinping came to power,  there were the offline antagonists called the “angry youth” and the “50 Cent Army” paid by the Communist Party to post pro-Party comments. Those groups were spurred by the Communist Party itself. But the 

In the Hu and Wen eras, there were voices from people publicly questioning the legitimacy of the CCP’s governance. But after Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China began to see a lot of little pinks. Over the years, fewer and fewer voices were heard questioning the CCP. Today there are almost none.

That silence is evidence that the Chinese people’s thinking has changed in recent years. In the thinking of many Chinese people, especially those in second- and third-tier cities and villages, the Communist Party has become the savior of corruption, a process that began with the anti-corruption campaigns launched by Xi Jinping after he took office. To a large extent, this also helped the Communist Party re-establish its ruling legitimacy. It gave Chinese citizens the false impression that the difficult circumstances happening in the country were created by a handful of corrupt officials and that once the Party brought those corrupt officials to justice, it would prove itself to be great and glorious and correct.

This technique has been tried repeatedly in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. Every time they face a crisis, they find a scapegoat. In the end, as the public message goes, the Party is always great and glorious and correct.

The changes in Chinese thinking in recent years are of great significance to Xi Jinping. Xi’s thoughts have always been relatively coherent. He wants to make Marxism the mainstream ideology in China again and re-establish the government controlled economy. This is the big game he has been playing since taking office, and it is still underway. It is his plan to transform China. He also believes that by accomplishing these two points, the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party can be secured.

Xi Jinping’s signature political philosophy is the Confidence Doctrine calling for Party members, government officials, and the Chinese people to be “confident in our chosen path, confident in our guiding theories, confident in our political system, and confident in our culture.” He wants to prove to the world that the set of things he insists on is superior to the set of Western constitutional democracy. He believes that if the Chinese people follow this path, they will not only survive but also surpass the United States and even rule the world. To accomplish this, though, all of China must know, believe and follow his path, his guiding theories, his political system and his version of their culture. 

To do so, to gain that buy-in from Chinese citizens, Xi Jinping believes it is necessary to crush the traffic-based model of making celebrities and celebrities’ influence on the public. It is incompatible with the party system, as celebrities compete with the Party for the devotion of the masses. Celebrities, when combined with commercial and political power, divide Xi Jinping’s power and become a very real political threat. 

Xi Jinping wants all traffic to belong to the Party and all influence to come from state-controlled media. On Toutiao, a Chinese news and information platform, the most popular account is state-sponsored media giant People’s Daily. And that is how Xi Jinping needs it to be. If the central government screams, he wants the whole country to respond enthusiastically. Only this method will support his efforts to close the country to the outside world, re-install a planned economy and engage in a full confrontation with the West. Just like a train, all the wheels must be on the track so the train can run effectively. 

They also greatly limit celebrity endorsements of products and ban any activities that “affect the normal study and rest of minors” or that enable them to “carry out various online gatherings.”

What this trend shows is the Chinese government’s interest in not only controlling the entertainment industry itself but also the fans’ voices. Ways that fans view and value celebrity, what makes a person worthy of celebrating, are being forcibly taken and replaced by the CCP’s notion of what values are worthy of being upheld and under what conditions. It is not enough for Xi Jinping to control virtually all media within the country. It is not enough for him to control the leaders of industry and innovation. So long as the citizens have an ability to access other ways of thinking, and in doing so, to potentially choose a line of thought that does not align with his, they are viewed as a threat. And as the CCP demonstrated again this week with Zhao Wei, those deemed as a threat will be erased, without warning and without explanation.

That’s all for today. Thanks for watching Zooming In China Tea Time. Please like, share, subscribe and donate to this program if you like my content. Also, head over to my new membership website at zoomingin.tv. You can get video/audio formats of my shows, full transcripts, and in-depth reports available only to members. I will also do live Q & A  with members on the website. Just $5 a month or $50 a year. Please check it out. Thanks again and see you next time.

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

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