Sayings — on Diplomacy

‘ They [Communist China] were looking at 2050 for Taiwan, but now with perceived weakness on the part of the United States they are moving now. They are taking what they think is rightfully theirs — world leadership, economic superiority, and certainly Taiwan.’

Sayings gathers remarks worth remembering. Casual and spontaneous in style, yet with a depth of thought and experience. I add punctuation, remove introductions and repetitions, and insert brief contextual notes in brackets. Otherwise I leave the Joycean flow of thought, with its stimulating range of association, as it is.

Transcripts of remarks worth remembering — casual and spontaneous in style, animated by historical understanding and experience, lightly edited for continuity and context.

Interview with former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser K T McFarland

[On the diplomatic meeting in Alaska] The Chinese came ready with a prepared statement that they wanted to criticize the United States and humiliate us on our own soil and in doing so they wanted to use the words of the American woke media and the cancel culture and the people who say that American is a racist nation, that it was conceived in evil et cetera yadda yadda, so they quoted those those people back to the American leadership. It was meant to be humiliating and so when The American Secretary of State had an opportunity to respond, instead of saying this is outrageous and walk out which is what I would have done, he said well you know we’re trying, we’re not perfect, we’re going to get there someday. And it was that not only the fact that the Chinese said it in such a brazen in-your-face way on American soil, quoting the Americans back to our leaders, but then our leaders instead of acting strong and tough and respond, just a rolled over. The second part of it was that for the Chinese this is a new Cold War, Cold War 2.0, and it’s going to be different this time, it’s not going to be like the old first Cold War nuclear arms race around the world. In a different sphere it’s going to be economic competition it’s going to be technology leadership and competition it’s going to be cyber it’s going to be all in a no-holds-barred — there’s no international law that’s going to prevent technology theft and acquisition and a lot of the things that the Chinese have already been doing but now it’s out in the open. The Chinese to my mind have now concluded that there rise is and America’s decline is inevitable and they think that they are or at least soon will be in a more dominant position in the world than the United States economically technologically diplomatically they plan to replace the United States as the global world leader and then rewrite the liberal World Order The Rules of Order Rules to order and to have quote Chinese characteristics. In Alaska nothing was accomplished but it was significant because it showed the Chinese intentions and I think it showed the United States that the Biden administration is in a position of great weakness which will reverberate around the world to our disadvantage.

We should bring up these issues that are neuralgic for the Chinese. They give you a red line, cross them and mention the Uyghur camps and say you can’t even bring them up. The Chinese involvement in the coronavirus I think that we should have brought that up. The whole world is suffering from a pandemic the Chinese knew they were unleashing on the world and the consequences are probably in a lot of ways more devastating than a World War would have been and so why not bring it up. You work with your allies and in this case in Asia Japan Australia particularly in the United States and you form a relationship with these countries to stand up to China. You use American technological superiority and you really double down on American investment in STEM education. They’ve had a couple of meetings [with India and Australia] but they’re not to the point yet where we’re having these four countries in Asia stand up and maybe do military operations together maybe do intelligence-sharing maybe do co-investment. The United States has an opportunity right now with India where we could invest in India the same way we invested in China 20 years ago. India is soon going to have a larger population than China and India is a democracy. Why not talk about covid-19. That’s been recently up in the news again with Robert Redfield former CDC director basically having expressed again the position of the previous administration basically that the most likely scenario was that it escaped from the lab.

It [Redfield’s statement] doesn’t bring any information as much as it brings it together all in one place. His background is actually in viruses he spent his whole career so when he says it I pay attention to this guy. I don’t care if he’s a Republican or a Democrat or an independent or whatever he’s got a lot of credibility in the field and then secondly let’s look at the pieces of this puzzle. Number one we now know that the Chinese knew the lethality and the contagion of covid, and they knew it well enough and soon enough so that they closed down the city where it came from — all travel for people traveling around other parts of China shut down. However at the same time they opened up travel kept open travel from Wuhan to the rest of the world and when countries like the United States and others tried to close that travel down the Chinese accused them of racism. So in other words in China they didn’t want it to happen in their own country. Another piece of evidence that I think is significant is that when it was first discovered it was World Health Organization scientists and doctors in Wuhan who raised the alarm and they talked about it but early on those same scientists and doctors they were disappeared they were told to be quiet and they were never heard from again, and at that point early on before before it became a pandemic internationally the Chinese government and the scientists in the World Health Organization in China had to turn everything over to the Chinese military. They passed a National Security Law saying that anybody who was going to talk about this virus has to get permission from the central government from the military before they talk about it. What are they trying to hide? They wouldn’t even let and they still haven’t let American scientists in. It’s been a year and now they are finally letting scientists come in and have a look, but you know a year is a long time to cover up the evidence and if the Chinese have nothing to hide why did they not let people in and why do they not help the world prevent a pandemic that they caused? Maybe it was just bats but it almost doesn’t matter because it’s what the Chinese did once they realized the lethality, the contagion and let it spread around the world and here we are today.

[Nobody talks about it.] It’s almost like the attitude is well we don’t want to embarrass them some so let’s just move along here, and what they’re doing now is they are using with a cold war diplomacy they’re using all the elements of Chinese National Power to punish countries which are disagreeing with them. Australia for example Australia early on a hundred other countries asked the World Health Organization let’s get to the bottom of the origins of the coronavirus and the Chinese government says to Australia don’t talk about that. Australia wouldn’t stop, so the Chinese have now set out to destroy some of the agricultural exports to China. It has already wreaked havoc on their economy. With a lot of countries that dare to cross their red line and a big element of this I was just reading about recently is their extensive disinformation and misinformation operations. I was just reading recently about how US Special Operations Command is creating a task force basically to specifically deal with Chinese disinformation operations. This seems to be a key area of this warfare, not the nuclear mutually assured destruction doctrine anymore, it’s all these other ways which are typically not thought of as warfare. These disinformation campaigns are so powerful and frankly so effective because they can get us all going after each other. And the other part of their disinformation campaign — let’s be nice and call it diplomacy — they are looking at the rest of the world and saying okay America you’re where you are but we want to lead the the next world order, we want to be the leaders of a non-white world of Asians and Central America Latin America and the subcontinent and Africa and that’s one of the reasons that they can continue to sort of parrot those in the United States who are talking about America is racist. I don’t think they care about whether Americans are racist or not. But they want to portray America as morally flawed as they try to ascend to diplomatic dominance around the world.

The Chinese Communist party has been fanning the flames of this very actively yeah of course they are because it suits their advantage. I graduated years ago, at Oxford University I studied communism and revolutions, I read Marx and Engels and Lenin had a phrase or he called them useful idiots, those are the people in free societies or in other countries who kind of buy into the Soviet disinformation and propaganda campaign and then from within those countries they tried to tear down the leadership. I look at America and see there are a lot of useful idiots here, the people in the cult of the cancel culture, in the Twitter mob who go after political leaders or anybody in the conservative movement to try to destroy them. Well you know if the Chinese are going to be running the world — I hope they won’t, I don’t think they will — but if they do, the first people that they get rid of are the useful idiots.

The Chinese leaders basically said you know the Korean War and the 1950s that cost us Taiwan the real country we cared about was Taiwan and bringing Taiwan back into what they thought the greater China and by the Korean War it got the whole world turned against China so China could not make its move. China has made it very clear they said it to us in the beginning of the Trump Administration. They go through their list of what they call their core interests or red lines or non-negotiable demands so that’s what they told Biden and that’s what they told us: hands-off Hong Kong and at that point there were no Uyghur concentration camps [their existence was not well-known] but those were their two things; they consider Taiwan be part of China, it’s a domestic Chinese issue what happens to those countries. They were looking at 2050 for Taiwan, but now with perceived weakness on the part of the United States I mean they are moving out now. They are taking what they think is rightfully theirs — world leadership economic superiority and certainly Taiwan. So I don’t think that these are all precursors to some kind of an invasion or a war but they are trying to put down the marker of think twice everybody in the world if you want to criticize us over Taiwan. I think they assume that most countries will back down and probably even Taiwan will back down.

[On sanctions against products made in forced-labor concentration camps] The Chinese response was to come back and you know double down and issue economic sanctions of their own on international corporations and in addition to that, they’re doing in China a PR campaign internally so that all celebrities TV stars personalities are wearing all cotton fabrics and cotton clothing made from these camps in part of western China. So the Chinese again from their perspective they think they’re there or they’re already there that they are already in the position of dominance and therefore any concessions to be made are not going to be made on their part, they’re going to be made by other countries and to show how powerful they are they use this economic weapon. And it’s a very powerful weapon especially in a democracy. What country is going to have an economic disadvantage to their own people in order to make a point? The Chinese can do this because they have an authoritarian government. You can’t do the same thing in the West because we’re a democracy. So they’re very clever. We have to get the free democracies of the world to band together because the Chinese plan long-range plan is to pick us off one at a time, pick off Japan pick off South Korea and use the Chinese leverage and their trade weapons to get these countries to do China’s bidding. However if all these countries are banded together, you know united we stand divided we fall, then why I think we do have an opportunity and are in a very strong position to go back to China and say well you may want this but we’re not going to let you get away with it.

What it looks like is these people in China being stirred up around these issues — look at how unfairly we were being treated here. An authoritarian government can do this, they passed a law a couple of years ago if the government or the Chinese military or the Chinese intelligence Services asked you for information or asks you to cooperate with them on something, you have to do it, it’s against the law if you don’t. You could put him in jail for life and so yes of course they’re able to mobilize. The other thing though and I guess I worry about this for a long time is that China has a population that has been nurtured on this notion that they were treated unjustly for about 200 years, that China was always the dominant most successful most powerful most just country in the world through the history of the world. But they had a lousy 200 years after the Industrial Revolution and they blame the West, blame the United States, they blame Europe. They have a chip on their shoulder about this, to a certain extent what they’re trying to do is payback time, they feel that they’re just resuming their rightful place in the world, that all these countries and companies who want to criticize them for forced labor camps or Hong Kong democracy, well you know you’re just little pipsqueaks. So the Chinese have stirred up this nationalist sentiment internally to say that this is the great Chinese history, this is the patriotic thing to do to other countries [like Taiwan and Hong Kong] and at the same time they’ve got this all-of-government approach where they’re using every aspect of government, not just a Chinese businessman or the Chinese military but they’re now disappearing H&M stores on Apple or Google Maps because China has an application that somehow in the middle of your when you try to find a location of Google maps, it disappears. I mean they’re really playing hardball, and they’re going to an enormous effort to have even the most what we would think kind of an insignificant thing. That’s why they’re such a formidable adversary. We’ve never had such a strategic threat to the peace and prosperity of the United States and to the world. This is much more serious than the Soviet Union or even Nazism. China is trying to, plans to remake the world in its own image and it is at our expense, make no mistake it will be at our expense.

[The Chinese sanctions are not exactly mirror images of the EU sanctions which are for crimes against humanity, while the Chinese sanctions are literally for saying stuff.] That’s a very insightful point, right. The West applies sanctions for crimes against humanity, but for China it’s all about you can’t say bad stuff. You can’t even criticize criticize China internally, we know that they have the world’s first total surveillance, but they’re not even allowing people outside to criticize China. It’s going to be a very difficult decade because China thinks they could replace the United States as the dominant world power by mid-century but with a pandemic and I think with the dysfunction in Washington they feel that they’re going to get there within the decade. This is going to be a very difficult decade that tries men’s souls.

[The prospects] We have the right to a political revolution and we go through this with great regularity every 40 or so years and the reason why is because American society is dynamic it’s always changing technologically sociologically religiously ethnically, all of the above, and revolutions where we kick the old party and ideas out, old leaders of both parties, and we have a new set of leaders and then that’s where America recreates itself, we reinvent ourselves and we do it time and time again and that I think is the definition of American exceptionalism. So how do you combat what I see is a growing threat to the peace and prosperity. I think America reinvent itself, it’s in the process of doing that now. And the technologies that we can’t even dream of are probably just around the corner and we’re going there again.

America has always reinvented itself and I think that that’s what we’re going through now it’s a process of sort of re-birthing and reinvention. The second wave of this virus is not going to be a physical viral disease it’s going to be in the economy and the destruction this is making on the economy and the United States becoming not only a debtor Nation but a debtor Nation that’s just borrowing all around the world including from China. The United States is going to look at the Chinese model and say no it doesn’t work here what works here is let’s find a cure and to keep our society open. From the Chinese perspective they are thrilled at the thought that we are raising a generation of kids who aren’t going to be socializing, not going to be educated, and we’re indebted we’re borrowing borrowing borrowing. Disinformation is a pretty effective way of getting America to lockdown forever, and you’re not going to manufacture stuff anymore, you’re just going to be in service, suspended animation. The American people aren’t nuts. At a certain point people just are going to look around and say hey I’m in California it’s not working for me, I’m going to Idaho. Or I’m in Manhattan, this isn’t working, so I’m going to Florida. It’s already started happening in the free states that have succeeded in battling the coronavirus, they’ve succeeded in vaccinating their populations, and they’ve succeeded in having their economies remain open. I’ll take that any day of the week over the lockdowns and certainly over the system that China has. People have worried about America for what two or three centuries, that we’re always just about to lose it to some other countries, they’re going to replace and take over and some other system is better than ours. At the end of the day I really believe in democracy and I really believe in free market capitalism and even though we’re going to have a rocky couple of years ahead I think ultimately the American people, the American system, and the American way of life and democracy and free market capitalism will survive and will indeed thrive.

Author: Peter Miller

Long-time resident of Kamakura Japan, artist/printmaker (photogravure etchings at, high school in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania U.S.A., college Columbia in New York, PhD (Sociology) Berkeley, consultant at Stanford Research Institute, California U.S.A. Explorer, cultivator of garden, herbal remedies, healthy biome, and common-sense.

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