Documentary: American Dream Takes on China Inc. Part 2: The Clean Network

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Simone Gao: Whoever controls the future of communications will dominate the world.

Radio announcer: By early 2020, China’s tech giant Huawei is poised to deploy most of the world’s 5G infrastructure.

John Sitilides: China probably has its single most effective lobbying operation in Brussels.

Declan Ganley: Beijing has offered them extremely attractive terms, is really offering a massive subsidization of their 5G rollouts.

Simone Gao: But there is a problem.

Matthew Whitaker: I am announcing that a grand jury in Seattle has returned an indictment that alleges 10 federal crimes by two affiliates of telecommunications corporation Huawei Technologies.

Keith Krach: If our businesses are being robbed every time they step overseas, if our  rivals can cheat their way ahead in a global race for innovation, you bet our security will suffer. I've been blessed with the American dream. My life’s work has been focused on creating innovative companies by building high-performance teams and then empowering them to pursue opportunities and accomplish things they never imagined possible.

Chuck Schumer: China wants Huawei to dominate the world. They'll find a way to do it unless we are tough as could be.

Keith Krach: The United States has developed a comprehensive approach to address long-term threat to data privacy posed to the free world from authoritarian malign actors. It's called The Clean Network.

Simone Gao: Welcome to Zooming In China. I’m Simone Gao. In our last episode, we talked about former Under Secretary of State Keith Krach who came from a small town in Ohio, turned into a tech titan, and in March 2020, was given the urgent mission to rescue the U.S.’s previously failed attempts of defeating CCP’s masterplan for controlling the future of 5G communications.

Krach believed the same leadership principles and strategies he used so effectively in building category kings and massive networks in Silicon Valley could be applied in economic statecraft against an increasingly aggressive China, Inc.

By applying these tactics, he led his team to achieve a 5G trifecta that put Huawei, China’s 5G equipment provider, on the defensive by essentially cutting off their chip supply, and they had to sell their cell phone business.

Huawei has close ties to the Chinese military and poses a national security threat to countries who use its equipment.

But the trifecta was just the opening salvo of reversing Huawei’s momentum. Their 5G deployment was still going strong. Before the trifecta was announced, Huawei had secured 91 5G contracts globally. Krach knew that the effort to stop Huawei had to go beyond the American efforts alone.

In his Senate confirmation testimony, Krach outlined his Clean Network strategy to address the China challenge.

Keith Krach: I said I would harness the U.S.’s comparative advantage in three areas: further strengthen our relationship with our allies and our friends, leverage the innovation and resources of the private sector, and amplify the moral high ground of democratic values.

Simone Gao: The Clean Network turned out to be the exact place where these strategies would be applied. Will the U.S. win the battle? Can All-American dream beat China, Inc. in the 21st century? And most importantly, will the Clean Network usher in a new economic order, not just between the United States and China, but for the entire world?  Let’s start this episode with a surprising announcement from the United Kingdom in January 2020.

Al Jazeera Anchor: The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided that Chinese tech giant Huawei will be granted a limited role in building the U.K.'s 5G mobile network.

Boris Johnson: The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. I’ve talked about infrastructure and technology. If people oppose one brand or another, then they have to tell us what’s the alternative, right? On the other hand, let’s be clear. I don’t want, as UK prime minister, to put in any infrastructure that is going to prejudice our national security or our ability to cooperate with Five Eyes intelligence.

Simone Gao: Britain did have some precautionary measures to address the security issues. For example, the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) put in place a Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre which published annual reports for Huawei. In 2020, after reviewing the company’s source code, the Oversight Board concluded that it could “only provide limited assurance that all risks to U.K. national security from Huawei’s involvement in the U.K.’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term.”

Boris Johnson went ahead with allowing Huawei into the U.K. despite this report. America was not impressed.

Mike Pence: We just don’t believe that utilizing the assets, the technology, of Huawei is consistent with the security or privacy interests of the U.K., of the United States, and it remains a real issue between our two countries.

Simone Gao: Secretary Pompeo visited his counterpart in London. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators urged Parliament to reconsider the decision. America’s export control put extra pressure on the Johnson administration.

Why did the U.K. turn its back on America’s warning? Some observers pointed out that China’s investment in two major projects in the U.K. played a heavy role.

Specifically, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) was involved in constructing several nuclear plants for the U.K., and China Railway Construction Corp (CRCC) was funding a high-speed rail link in the country, a key initiative for the Johnson government.

Another big reason was that, in Europe, the telecom industry’s lobbying for Huawei was very strong. I had an interview with Rivada Network’s CEO Declan Ganley about that situation.

Declan Ganley: The carrier lobbies in each of these countries have done all of the lobbying with not an awful lot of need for help from Beijing. And the reason that they’re doing that lobbying is Beijing has offered them extremely attractive terms, is really offering a massive subsidization of their 5G rollouts, and these carriers who are trying to maintain the market, the margin, between what they retail a gigabyte of information of data for and the cost that it costs to produce it. While they want to maintain this retail business model, they need these Chinese subsidies, and so they’re addicted.

Simone Gao: Geopolitical expert John Sitilides echoed Ganley’s opinion.

John Sitilides: China probably has its single most effective lobbying operation in Brussels than anywhere else in the world. They have deployed thousands of business people and everyday citizens who are operating in Brussels to be able to lobby European Union bureaucracies, bureaucrats, nationals from different EU countries in an effort to expand Huawei into European markets and also the Belt Road Initiative.

Simone Gao: Because of the European telcos’ strong inclination to use Huawei, it turned out that even before their governments made any decisions on the Chinese company, the telcos had started deploying 5G with Huawei equipment.

For example, Germany held its 5G spectrum license auction in early 2019. Major German mobile carriers that bought those licenses started deploying 5G with Huawei equipment regardless of any government decision. Exactly the same thing had happened in the U.K.

Declan Ganley: They’re so confident of their regulatory capturability, and of their relationships, and of the power of those relationships, that they feel confident enough to say, “We’re going to make this decision, we’re going to do this rollout anyway, and whoever becomes the next Democratic leader there, it doesn’t matter what they think because we are so embedded, and we’re so powerful, and our lobby has got such reach that no one will dare to make us reverse our decision or make us have to undo the fact that we’ve created these facts on the ground and deployed Huawei 5G.”

Simone Gao: But there is one problem with that confidence: possible public opinion shifts on Huawei and China that will put tremendous pressure on telcos and governments to change their decisions. And that’s exactly what happened.

On May 28, 2020, after one year of brutal crackdown on Hong Konger’s protests against a Chinese extradition law that would erode Hong Kong’s freedom, China imposed national security legislation on Hong Kong to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. This law effectively ended China's promise to the “One Country Two Systems'' that was stated in the Sino-British Joint Declaration when the U.K. handed Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997.

The next day, President Donald Trump announced this:

Donald Trump: China's latest incursion, along with other recent developments that degraded the territory's freedoms, makes clear that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to warrant the special treatment that we have afforded the territory since the handover. China has replaced this promised formula of “One Country, Two Systems” with one country, one system. Therefore, I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment.

Simone Gao:  America’s swift response served as a weathervane for the free world. Now, all eyes are on Europe, the United Kingdom in particular. By then, Keith Krach and his team had already conducted a global listening tour to find out how countries really felt about Huawei.

Keith Krach: I’ve probably had 80 bi-lateral meetings with my foreign counterparts, you know, ministers of finance or economics. And I’ll say “how’s your relationship going with China? What’s it like?” And they’ll go, “well, they’re important, you know, they’re a big trading partner.” And then they’ll lean in, they’ll look both ways--this will be a bi-lateral meeting--they go, “but we don’t trust ‘em.”

Simone Gao: Governments fear China, telcos are addicted to Chinese subsidies, but no one trusts China, according Krach. His game plan? Hitting the target one by one and doing it at a lighting speed.

Keith Krach: Speed now is the number one currency in business today, and you need momentum for that digital transformation. And the big, they no longer eat the small. The quick eat the slow. The future of your company depends on it. It depends on action now, not one year from now. And success needs no explanation. Failure needs no alibi. Failure is not an option. It’s go time.

Simone Gao:  Krach launched a three-prong global campaign to sign up Clean Countries, Clean Telcos, and Clean Companies. In order to demonstrate early momentum in building the network, the team started by aligning with the countries that already excluded Huawei while simultaneously approaching CEOs of the telecommunications giants. By the end of May, Poland, Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Israel, Latvia and Czech Republic were already members of the Clean Network. But there would be no turning of the tide if America’s number one ally was playing ball with Huawei.

In June 2020, the political wind in Britain was changing fast after the national security law about Hong Kong was passed by China.

Keith Krach: London was really upset by the PRC's crackdown in Hong Kong and incredibly disturbed by its lack of transparency about the pandemic outbreak. And the British government was also facing, at that time, a political rebellion by the U.K.'s ruling Conservative Party, and that was about, of course, the Chinese involvement in the country’s 5G network. And the new export restrictions that we put on Huawei’s semiconductors under the 5G Trifecta proved to be a catalyst for their reassessment. So, right around this time, Beijing was starting to feel desperate, and that's when they reverted to their bullying tactics.

Simone Gao: China’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, warned Prime Minister Johnson that any ban would send "a very bad message”  and it was “not in the U.K.’s interest” to make an enemy of Beijing.

Liu Xiaoming: If you want to make China a hostile country, you have to bear the consequences.

Simone Gao: Liu warned that severing ties with Huawei could prompt Beijing to pull Chinese investment from major British infrastructure projects.

Secretary Pompeo responded by issuing a statement saying, “The United States stands with our allies and partners against the CCP’s coercive bullying tactics.”

The Telegraph published an op-ed by Keith Krach by the title “The free world must unite against Huawei.”

Keith Krach: U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently remarked that it isn't just the devastation of Covid-19 that takes the shine off of China, but also the fact that the CCP doesn't live up to the deals that it makes. The crackdown on Hong Kong is a case in point. As the foreign secretary Rob said, "It comes down to an issue of trust. Why would anyone trust them with other deals they might make?"

Simone Gao: On July 14th, a week later after Liu’s warning, Britain announced that the U.K.’s mobile providers are being banned from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after December 31st and the future of the U.K.'s 5G will also exclude Huawei.

British Parliament speaker: We have concluded that it is necessary, and indeed prudent, to commit to a timetable for the removal of Huawei equipment from our 5G network by 2027.

Simone Gao: The U.K. decision to exclude Huawei was an important step in beginning to turn the tide against the Chinese company. Countries and companies were now asking themselves whether Huawei could be trusted and what the consequences would be to keep using Huawei. More chips were about to fall.

A week after the U.K. ban, France announced its plan to phase out Huawei. The tide on the European continent was beginning to turn.

In July and August of 2020, while Huawei was losing some of its momentum in Europe after the U.K. and France defeat, Krach and team decided to double-down and begin to further leverage The Clean Network with five new lines of effort.

On August 5th, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, officially expanded the scope of The Clean Network.

Mike Pompeo: In April, I announced our team’s Clean Path Initiative to keep American’s data safe from untrusted vendors. Today, I’m pleased to announce the expansion of The Clean Network with the launch of five new lines of effort. I’ll walk through them quickly.

First, Clean Carrier. We’re working to ensure that untrusted Chinese telecom companies don’t provide international telecommunications services between the United States and foreign destinations.

The second we call Clean Store. We want to see untrusted Chinese apps removed from U.S. app stores.

Third, Clean Apps. We’re working to prevent Huawei and other untrusted vendors from pre-installing or making available for download the most popular U.S. apps.

4th, Clean Cloud for protecting Americans' most sensitive personal information and our businesses’ most valuable intellectual property, including Covid vaccine research, from being accessed on Cloud-based systems run by companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, China Mobile, China Telecom and Tencent.

5th, and finally, Clean Cable. We’re working to ensure that the CCP can’t compromise information carried by the undersea cables that connect our country and others to the global internet. We call on all freedom loving nations and companies to join The Clean Network.

Simone Gao: By August 10, 2020, The Clean Network grew to 30 Clean Countries and Territories along with some of the largest telecommunications companies, including Orange in France, Reliance in India, Telstra in Australia, SK and KT in Korea, NTT in Japan, O2 in the UK and all telcos in Canada, Norway, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

On August 24, 2020, India phased out equipment from Chinese companies from its telecoms’ networks.

On September 22, 2020, Under Secretary Krach embarked on an official trip to Europe. This time the goal was to build a transatlantic Clean Network.

Keith Krach: The other key thing is the fast way to build a network is a network of networks. So, on my first European trip, the first stop was NATO.

So, I met with Deputy Secretary General Geoana, and I go into his office and he goes “we need a clean NATO network.” He goes, “we can't have, you know, some countries in a transatlantic alliance that have trusted networks and some untrusteds. You see, we need those 5G civilian networks in peace time or war time. We can’t have a fractured alliance.” So, he was a great ally, and he was right there in Brussels.

The next day I went to go see my friend, EU commissioner Thierry Breton. I knew him when he was CEO of Bull and CEO of French Telecom, before it was Orange.

Simone Gao: Commissioner Thierry Breton had just led the member states in developing the EU 5G Clean Toolbox. Krach and Breton issued a joint statement on the synergies between The Clean Network and the EU 5G Clean Toolbox, stating that the Toolbox fit the criteria for inclusion in the Clean Network.

Keith Krach: He came up with a thing called the 5G EU cybersecurity toolbox. Basically, he identified who are the trusted suppliers, which were really Europeans and Koreans. Basically anything but the Chinese, right? ZTE or Huawei. And then he identified the high-risk suppliers. Telcos in Europe, their board of directors have to make the 5G supplier decision. And if they choose a high-risk supplier and something goes wrong, they are personally liable for 4% of the damages or $20 million, whichever is higher. I've been on a lot of boards. That's when you go under the desk in a fetal position, right?

We certainly appreciate the endorsement here today by the Three Seas nations for the Blue Dot Network and The Clean Network.

Simone Gao: Krach and his team had pulled it off with another Trifecta by integrating NATO, the EU and the Three Seas coalition of nations into The Clean Network. It was a giant step forward in building the network effect.*

But more importantly, it now became undeniable that The Clean Network was not an American alone approach.

Plus, the liability terms in the EU 5G Clean Toolbox is a powerful measure to reign in telcos lobbying for China. The tide was turning against Huawei. This was exactly the momentum Krach’s team would need if they had any hope of winning over Europe’s toughest and most important customer.

DW host: Europe has become the focal point of that campaign and, in particular, Germany.

Speaker 1: Can Berlin really afford to sit on the fence on this issue for much longer?

Simone Gao: China was Germany's biggest export market, especially for their automotive industry. Germany was also a key market for Huawei’s expansion and its political influence in Europe made a partnership valuable.

Germany’s Chinese ambassador Wu said: “If Germany were to take a decision that leads to Huawei’s exclusion from the German market, there will be consequences. The Chinese government will not stand idly by.” German Automakers account for a quarter of the 28 million cars sold in China, “Can we also say that German cars are not safe, because we’re in a position to manufacture our own cars?

German commentators took Wu’s remarks as an open threat. But what could be an effective counter punch?

Len Khodorkovsky is the chief marketing officer for The Clean Network. He was a Madison Ave advertising executive.

Len Khodorkovsky: Before meeting with the German government officials, we leveraged Under Secretary Krach’s trusted customer relationships with more than 20 top CEO’s in Munich, Frankfort, Cologne. Our approach was really based on moral high ground of democratic values, treating governments like customers and the media with humility.

Keith Krach: I remember going over to Germany and talking to the press, and they said “what happens if we don't join The Clean Network? What's America going to do to us?”

And I said, this decision is for the people of Germany to decide, and we respect whatever Germany decides. And they said, “well, why should we do it?” And I go, “German Basic Law Article 1,” because that's their constitution that they developed in 1949. And German Basic Law Article 1 is two words, really. It's human dignity. It’s the duty and the responsibility of the German government is human dignity. And I said, “Huawei is the backbone for China's surveillance state. This is a tool that only the worst of dictators could have dreamed of. And this is what's responsible for all the human rights abuses, all the things that are going on in the surveillance state, all the stuff that’s going on in Xinjiang where they're committing genocide.”

Then I saw what the press wrote: “Kroch’s a different diplomat than what we're used to.” But I think you really got to speak in those terms. The other thing, too, in Germany was that I had known so many CEOs from DocuSign and Ariba. So, they were my friends, and I've been on the stage with many of them.

Event host: Keith’s got a surprise.

Tim: What is that, Keith?

Keith: This is the DocuSign Digital Hero award.

Tim: Come on.

Keith: And by the way, it’s no small award as you can see. For being a role model partner of digital leadership, innovation and trust. Tim Hottges, you have the trophy, you are a great, great role model partner. We can’t thank you enough. Everything that you’ve done for DocuSign, Europe, Germany and the world.

Tim: Thank you very much!

Simone Gao: What was the rationale you used with your friend, Tim Höttges, and other German CEOs about Huawei?

Keith Krach: One thing I'd always talk about, ‘cause I also have German roots, Germany sets the standard in terms of data privacy, security, quality, reliability, precision. They set the standard of the world. If you're utilizing Huawei in your 5G system, you just drop that golden standard. So, it was really more an approach like that.

Simone Gao: Four days later, Germany prepared legislation that would effectively ban Huawei from its 5G network. A senior security official described Germany’s strategy to Huawei as “strangle it in red tape.” Team USA had accomplished their German mission.

The tide would turn faster now in Europe, but the team was tempting a dangerous  fate. Covid cases were ramping up rapidly throughout Europe.

Len Khodorkovsky: The team was moving at lightning speed at this point, covering 20 cities, 15 countries, meeting with heads of state, telco CEOs, business leaders, other government officials, and the goal was always to build a transatlantic Clean Network. I’ll never forget when we pulled off an unprecedented diplomatic feat.

Under Secretary Krach signed a trifecta of Clean Network agreements with Prime Ministers of North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, all in one day. We were on a roll. And then the next day, we were notified that the Prime Minister of Bulgaria came down with Covid. Keith immediately cancelled our next stop in Saudi Arabia, telling us “my number one responsibility is your safety.” He chartered a plane personally, on the spot, and got us back home. And thankfully, nobody tested positive.

Simone Gao: The adoption of The Clean Network principles by the EU, NATO, Three Seas, and a growing number of European countries solidified its credibility as a multilateral initiative. The Clean Network had now become a transatlantic Clean Network. Its membership consisted of 26 out of 27 EU nations, 27 out of 30 NATO members, 11 out of 12 Three Seas countries and 31 out of 37 OECD members. The success of the Clean Network turned into an effective security blanket against the CCP’s retaliation.

After additional visits to Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, The Clean Network grew to 49 Clean Countries, more than 100 Clean Telcos. The tide had turned. They had taken the momentum away from Huawei.

But Huawei was not giving up. They had planned a counter offensive, and Team USA was heading into an ambush.

Brazil, with a population of 211 million, is the largest country in South America. Similar to Germany in Europe, Brazil had the biggest influence on the rest of the South American nations' decision to join The Clean Network and would be the most challenging. Since Huawei had staked out a strong position with the Brazilian government, Krach decided to go straight to Sao Paulo, to the CEO’s of the telcos. By now, Krach was adept at convincing CEO’s. However, there was just one big problem.

Len Khodorkovsky: As we were in the air flying down, we learned that Huawei had somehow convinced Brazilian telcos not to participate in our previously scheduled meetings. It was everywhere in the South American press, and it was going to be a PR nightmare for us. We needed a plan B, and fortunately our Brazilian Ambassador, Todd Chapman, already began implementing a plan B. He was the Under Secretary’s former Senior Advisor, and he understood the approach of utilizing companies to make the case for trusted 5G. He already set up meetings to strategically get their support and endorsements for The Clean Network’s value proposition, and once we got that, we could amplify it on Brazilian TV before meeting with government officials.

Keith Krach: Last night, I had a great dinner with 10 of the top Brazilian entrepreneurs. I also met with Fortune 500 companies that have big operations here from Germany, Japan and the U.S. And they said, “look, we need these trusted networks to expand our operations.” The entrepreneurs said, “hey, we need this to protect our intellectual property.”

Simone Gao: The top Brazilian entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies carried a lot of weight with the government. Also, during his visit, Krach strengthened their hand by bringing in Japan, one of The Clean Network’s most powerful and staunch supporters, to hold the first ever Japan-U.S.-Brazil trilateral dialogue.

Later that day, on November 10, 2020, Brazil became the 50th member of The Clean Network, also the first one in south Latin America. Ecuador and Dominican Republic followed suit.

By the time the baton was passed to the Biden administration, The Clean Network had reached 60 countries representing two-thirds of the world’s GDP. It counted 200 telcos and industry-leading companies. Krach's team had proven that China Inc. is beatable and, in the process, exposed its biggest weakness—lack of trust. Remarkably, Huawei’s vaunted 91 5G deals dwindled to less than a couple dozen outside of China. He had met all three of his objectives.

Keith Krach: And with this was, this really demonstrated what we were after in our three original objectives.

The first one, of course, and the urgent one was to prove that China, Inc. is beatable by defeating the CCP’s masterplan to dominate 5G. We also knew that that would open up the playing field to enable U.S. entrants as well as our allies.

The second objective was to deliver an enduring model for competing with China, Inc.

The third objective, and final objective, was to use 5G as an additional beachhead and a head-start on building an alliance of countries and companies that could be leveraged for all areas of technological and economic competition, like clean infrastructure and clean energy.

Simone Gao: Today, on the Eurasia landmass, China is building a more powerful network: a physical Belt and Road and a digital one.

With the physical Belt and Road, Chinese government loans money and sends Chinese companies to countries to help build their infrastructure. If the countries encountered problems with paying back the loans, their strategic ports and resources often would fall into the hands of the Chinese government. This strategy was later nicknamed “debt for sovereignty.”

Keith Krach:  When I first heard about the One Belt One Road Initiative, I was on my DocuSign listening tour in China, and it sure looked like a military supply chain to me. And then when I was running U.S. economic diplomacy, I actually witnessed China’s insatiable appetite for raw materials, hard currency, and jobs. And I could see how that resulted in the equivalent of an invasion that attacks developing nations by siphoning their natural resources, bleeding their financial resources and devaluing their human resources.

This is why, in November 2019 at the Indo Pacific Forum in Bangkok, I launched the Blue Dot Network with Australia and Japan. And what this provides is a unified and equitable alternative to what one Asian economic minister called “the One Belt, One-Way-Toll Road to Beijing.”

And the good news is that the Blue Dot Network operates by the same set of trust principles as The Clean Network.

The Biden administration aptly renamed it B3W, and what that means is build back a better world.

Simone Gao: The digital Belt and Road, on the other hand, is to build digital infrastructure in Europe and around the world, particularly through 5G deployment.

5G is the next generation of cellular networks, composed of switches and routers, and possesses the ability to accommodate vast exchanges of data required to power the majority of economic, civil and military activities. Whoever builds the underlying switching systems will control the information flow passing through the network.

A CCP-controlled 5G network will have profound national security implications as well as economic consequences for the world.

Keith Krach: The physical and digital Belt and Road is a way for the CCP to build a China-centric network in which economic power is used as a tool of political coercion. To counter that, the synergy we achieved by combining The Clean Network and the Blue Dot Network with the same set of trust principles and also the same set of trust standards.

Len Khodorkovsky: We provided a winning bipartisan formula to the Biden administration, a global brand that’s well-positioned to challenge the CCP in every critical economic realm. The Wall Street Journal called The Clean Network an undisputed success and perhaps the most enduring foreign policy legacy of the last four years.

Simone Gao: According to Bloomberg, Silicon Valley veteran Keith Krach harnessed the power of a network of nations to counter China, a notable change in tone after years in which the administration pursued a go-it-alone strategy, and further states The Clean Network’s efforts to create a united economic front is to China what George Kennan’s “long telegram” of 1946 was to the Soviet Union.

76 years ago, on February 22, 1946, George F. Kennan, an American diplomat who is considered to be the father of modern foreign policy, sent his famous 8000-word Long Telegram from the heart of Eurasia-Moscow, back to Washington. In it, he wrote:

“[The Soviet Union] has a far-flung apparatus for exerting its influence in other countries, an apparatus of amazing flexibility and versatility, managed by people whose experience and skill in underground methods are presumably without parallel in history.”

Len Khodorkovsky: The advantage we had in defeating the Soviet Union during the Cold War was the U.S. private sector. One of The Clean Network’s critical success factors was talking with Telco and global CEOs and treating them like our own customers. This is quite unconventional in the government world, but it really worked.

Simone Gao: However, there is only one problem. America’s most powerful companies and institutions are still pouring money into China to make it thrive.

In January 2020, Keith Krach brought Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Silicon Valley. They stayed there for four days.

Keith Krach: The first night, at a dinner at my home, we had 36 of the top CEOs, you know, you'd recognize every single name, right? Everyone. And I had them all go around the room and tell their China horror stories.

I stood up after everybody went around the room. I said, “look, guys,” because all these guys are my friends, I go “we always see out here corporate responsibility, social responsibility. You know, corporate responsibility is also national security, because the Chinese Communist Party is a real and urgent threat, not just to our democracy, but to your businesses, because they don't want to just compete. They want to put you out of business, and they don't play by the rules.” The world's kind of waking up. Silicon Valley's coming along. The worst one is Wall Street. They're so conflicted.

Simone Gao: The advantage of a totalitarian regime lies in that it has unlimited power and financial resources to do things. So, when China, Inc., backed by the world’s 2nd largest economy, put the entire country’s strength behind efforts like the digital Belt and Road Initiative, hardly any isolated entity could compete with them.

Keith Krach: During the pandemic, Xi really amped up China, Inc.’s practice of economic warcraft to build his military machine, erode our industrial base and gain technological superiority. Unbeknownst, though, to most Americans, their investment accounts and pension funds are being used to finance Xi’s grand plans. In addition, Chinese companies don't have to follow legitimate accounting rules like GAAP accounting. For a guy who took three companies public, it’s infuriating. But that's my personal issue. It's really about protecting the American investor and ensuring Chinese companies don't have the unfair advantage of not having to be transparent. And it’s also about preserving the gold standard of the United States financial system. So, in order to compete with China, Inc., governments and companies need to draw a line in the sand on China, Inc.’s abuse of the world’s capital markets. We had a plan for this.