To an increasing number of people, America’s policy of “engagement” with China’s communist dictatorship has proven to be a deadly mistake.
With Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s landmark speech on China and the closure of the Houston Chinese consulate, America appears to be entering a new era of US-China relations. According to Solomon Yue, the goal is not containment, but to bring about the demise of the Chinese Communist Party.
In this episode, we sit down with Solomon Yue, Vice Chairman & CEO of Republicans Overseas and a Republican National Committeeman since 2000. He escaped China in 1980, after the Red Guards raided his home and threatened his life during the Cultural Revolution.
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Solomon Yue, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Solomon Yue: Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: So Solomon, spell it out for me here. You saw a China policy that I suppose changed over time since 1980. In terms of how the US government approached China, how have things changed over the last 20 years?
Mr. Yue: Engagement is gone today, and [Secretary Mike] Pompeo said [our goal] is not containment. Actually, I agree. I would call it takedown. And the reason is that we were so afraid to upset China to the point that we wouldn’t do anything. A good example will be since I got first elected to the RNC in 2000, I was organizing RNC members and banquets that are hosted by the Taiwanese Ambassador to DC, and George W. Bush’s whitehouse would not allow RNC chairman to attend. They would only allow RNC co-chairman to attend because they did not want to upset China. I knew we were getting nowhere.
My view on China had not changed since I escaped in 1980, but the so-called engagement was getting us nowhere. I knew it was because they didn’t understand the culture. Culturally speaking, they [the CCP] believe [in a] zero-sum game. Why take a slice, a piece, of our pie if they can take the whole thing? That’s a concept. Based on that, my thinking was always that one day we have to deal with China. And the way we deal with China should be the same way we dealt with the USSR and took it down. That’s why Reagan is my hero.
Mr. Jekielek: And when you say takedown, you’re talking about the Communist Party, presumably.
Mr. Yue: That’s correct. Takedown the CCP.
Mr. Jekielek: So, tell me a little bit about your background. I understand you actually lived through some of the Cultural Revolution.
Mr. Yue: Yes, I did. When the Cultural Revolution started, I was seven years old. I witnessed firsthand the kind of stuff I see today: bringing down the statues and beating people up to a point and killing people. And also, personally speaking, Red Guards came to our home to search, seize assets, seize money, and kick us out of one room so another working family can move in and take the room. And of course, at seven years old, when you witness this kind of stuff, you can’t keep your mouth shut. [I] said, “Why are they taking our property? And why are they beating people up and beating people up to death? Why are they burning books?” You see that today too.
I was vocal and couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Then one day my parents were told, “If your son can’t keep his mouth shut, we will make him disappear in the night.” And they would pay for the bullet—six cents not much, but still they would pay for the bullet. And so my parents were really scared and told me, warned me, “Don’t do that anymore.” But I couldn’t help myself. Once I got a big mouth, I got a big mouth, right? Like right now.
And so, my father told my late grandfather, Jiang Yue, who was in Hong Kong, and my grandfather went to Hawaii for the World Methodist conference [where he] met his friend, Dr. Brian Edwards, formerly a US ambassador to UNICEF in the Kennedy administration. By the way, he is a Democrat. Brian was also president of Alaska Pacific University, then formerly Alaska Methodist University. So, Brian said, “Don’t worry, I can get your grandson out of China. What I’m going to do for him is to give him a scholarship. Ride to the US Consul General in Shanghai, and get him a student visa.” And in three months, I got my passport and my US student visa, and I landed in Anchorage, Alaska in wintertime, only knowing “thank you” and “Coca Cola.”
Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible. So you came in understanding the system in ways that I guess people who hadn’t experienced it couldn’t even imagine.
Mr. Yue: Oh, yes. And I also realized, America gave me shelter and it gave me freedom. The best thing I can do for America is takedown the CCP.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. So wait, so your whole agenda for decades now has been this?
Mr. Yue: Yes. And it was so disappointing. We had a Republican administration, but they also kissed up to the CCP. They didn’t know. A good example was RNC members banquet at Twin Oaks Estate, but you do what you can do. One thing I realized is that it would probably take time to shift public opinion, and then political leaders will stand up. So it will take some time to shift political opinion.
Mr. Jekielek: What do you see happening with Hong Kong now as this national security law is coming into full force and we’re seeing some of the impacts?
Mr. Yue: I think some of Hong Kong’s citizens will be snatched and brought back to China for trial. That also concerns me as the CEO and Vice Chairman of Republicans Overseas. We have 85 Americans working and living in Hong Kong. If they speak out against the Hong Kong government or the Chinese government, especially regarding Hong Kong issues, they could be in trouble. And I don’t want them to go to China and to be tried for treason or whatever accusation they can put on those guys, Americans in Hong Kong. That would be my biggest concern for Americans there. Then, of course, though, the Hong Kong freedom fighters.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, this is coming to a head in a sense, because we have this consulate in Houston that’s basically being closed now, or at least the US is demanding that it be closed. Actually, one of the bits of intrigue is that in a political story we learned that the consulate is going to be doing business as usual. What’s your analysis of that?
Mr. Yue: I think the Chinese Consul General in Houston talks big to save face. I think they’re going to close the shop and retreat. And as a matter of fact, one thing was confirmed last night. They are going to close the US Consulate in Wuhan, I believe.
Mr. Jekielek: I think it’s Chengdu.
Mr. Yue: Chengdu, you’re right. Thank you. So if you think about that, this is settled, but the next one we should watch out for really is the San Francisco Chinese Consul General’s Office. The reason is you don’t hide a fugitive in a diplomatic mission and try to get away with it in today’s political environment. So I tweeted, I said that the choice is very simple. Surrender this lady, the researcher, who lied about her connection with the People’s Liberation Army on her J-1 visa application or face another closure. It’s as simple as that. And so let’s see how this one is going to play out.
As a matter of fact, by the way, the Chinese ambassador is on the line as well, because a media already reported [that] an FBI said he was recruiting U.S. scientists to join China’s talent program 2025. That’s not a proper ambassador role, for any ambassador, not just for a Chinese ambassador. So, pretty soon, Gordon Chan— I asked Gordon, I said, “How long do you think he is going to stay in the U.S.?” “We’re going to kick him out.” That’s the direction that things are going. That’s the bottom line.
Mr. Jekielek: And apparently Houston was this central hub for Chinese influence operations and espionage.
Mr. Yue: We actually only knew that they ran all those associations, friendship association [Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries] and connections with US think tanks and all that [in Houston]. But we did not know, and lately they disclosed that, actually cyber attacks and spy operations were run [from Houston]. As a matter of fact, they chartered a flight[s] and got all these so-called students in the US, and those students don’t even have proper names and birthdays. We can’t match their names and birthdays. That’s the bottom line. So that’s something that we just learned.
Mr. Jekielek: So I guess we’ll see what happens with Houston. It might even happen before this interview is published, because it takes us a little while to get them out. But I’m very, indeed very, curious. Your expectation is things will close as planned and potentially further closures with San Francisco. Do you think that the CCP will give up the researcher?
Mr. Yue: Yes, they have no choice. Let me tell you something. I talked about it, and I tweeted on Twitter: We know Xi Jinping’s make up. Literally. Remember, Xi and Trump had their first state dinner in Florida. And halfway through, President Trump got up and made a call, ordered airstrikes against Syria, then came back, and sat down. I would expect Xi Jinping to get up and walk out to protest, because that was an insult to his motherland and him as a head of state.
This never happened in our history—a sitting president got up during dinner with a head of state and ordered an airstrike. You tell me you can’t do it before dinner or after dinner, right? So that’s the point. He didn’t do it [walk out]. So what does that tell all of us? Xi Jinping failed a test. Trump just tested him, and he didn’t realize he was being tested.
So ever since, if you see Xi Jinping try to talk tough, including care about the deal, [it’s a bluff]. I mean remember they negotiated a deal, and then afterwards he said, “No, I don’t want that deal.” But Trump did not back off. Trump still kept 25% tariffs on all Chinese goods. And in the end, they had to come back and settle for the Phase 1 deal. Now, can we trust them? Of course not. But what does that mean? You don’t play tough with us, not with this guy. He’s from New York.
Mr. Jekielek: So, indeed, I think Secretary Pompeo outlined this new approach or summarized it at least. There have been multiple speeches that have come out from O’Brien, from Ray, from Bar. Solomon, I’m just thinking of another element of Secretary Pompeo’s speech which was talking about engaging the Chinese people directly, which frankly, I see as a new direction for the US government. I’m not aware of this being talked about very much at all until extremely recently.
Mr. Yue: Absolutely. Actually, what is fascinating is who Pompeo invited to his speech: well-known Chinese dissidents. And the reason this is so important is that, one, he wants to communicate with Chinese people directly. I call it divide-and-conquer, through those well-known Chinese dissidents in U.S. Two, the second divide-and-conquer goes hand in hand. Basically, when the U.S. leaked the rumor that they were considering banning CCP members traveling to the U.S., to sanction them, to seize their assets, that’s another divide and conquer between CCP mob families.
[That’s] a couple hundred families, and they’re all corrupt. They’re hiding money, they steal from Chinese people, and they take the money overseas, by the way, not reporting it when they clear U.S. customs. When you come through U.S. customs, you have to disclose anything more than 10,000 U.S. dollars. They come with suitcases full of U.S. dollars. Buy everything with cash, a house, in their [legitimate and illegitimate] kids’ names, mistress’ name, concubine’s name, wife’s name.
We know who they are because they are stupid enough to use cash to buy everything. But guess what? Real estate property, you have to register; it’s in county records, it’s in city records. We know who you are. Now, when they do that, they are vulnerable, and they understand that. Xi Jinping understands that too. But that is a divide and conquer because Xi Jinping fights the U.S. and creates a problem for all of them. The U.S. just declared [the banning of] CCP members’ travel to the U.S. and seizing their assets. Now what? So you have divide-and-conquer going on at their highest level, as well. So I call it divide-and-conquer times two strategy.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, there were two things that I’m thinking of, now that you mentioned this. One is, when that was announced, that rumor went out, there was this sort of spike in searches about quitting the CCP on Google, which is extremely interesting. The other part I was thinking is, maybe you can just clarify for the viewership, you mentioned the hundred or several hundred mob families in China. So what is the relationship of these families to the Communist Party, to Xi Jinping, and to the Politburo and the Standing Committee and all of this? How does this all work? Very briefly, just so we have a picture.
Mr. Yue: The CCP, after Deng Xiaoping opened up, became a place for second-generation reds and the third-generation reds to use globalization to make money for themselves. So quickly, a CCP leadership position became the power to steal from Chinese people and to make money for their families. And they are smart enough to move the money overseas. Now, we know Pompeo is right [when he] called Xi Jinping a Marxist. Now, that does not mean Xi Jinping’s sisters and brothers are not doing the same thing as those CCP mob family members.
So you have 100 mob families out there, and they all control assets—lots of it. And because of that, when you have this kind of fight with Xi Jinping, Xi Jinping truly is alone on his own because he threatens mob family’s assets, and he wants to purge them for corruption. What happened is they are going to work against him behind the scenes. That’s why Xi Jinping disappeared for months at a time, and we don’t even know if Beidaihe, the CCP elders’ annual summer conference, is going to take place or not, this year.
Mr. Jekielek: Just to be clear, you’re calling these “mob families” because they work like the mob, or what is your thought? I’ve heard this used before. And secondly, what is this elder conference that you’re talking about?
Mr. Yue: Every year, Beidaihe is a resort where CCP elders like Jiang Zemin, guys like the former president and the formal Politburo members, all get together to discuss the future of China. Xi Jinping amended the Chinese constitution and wants to be a dictator for life. Meanwhile, those elders will force him to name a successor. But the problem is, he has more than this problem. The problem of fighting with the U.S. threatens the fortunes of those elders’ families [and] children’s assets—those are all mob families now—and he will not be forgiven for threatening the fortunes of those families. And so now, we don’t even know whether he is going to hold this annual [Beidaihe] meeting or not.
Mr. Jekielek: So there we get a little bit of insider information. We cover this kind of stuff at The Epoch Times extensively, and I think there’s a greater and greater interest in it as you’re discussing. Solomon, talking about all these elite families that function like mob families in your view, there’s a lot of money at play. And something that we’re seeing recently is these bank runs. Basically, people are withdrawing their savings in large numbers and so forth. How is this related to these ruling family fortunes, and what’s going on with these bank runs at all? This is a pretty new phenomenon.
Mr. Yue: The bank runs are really caused by Chinese banks, small and big, setting a limit on how much money you can take out. I’m talking about renminbi—yuan. How much renminbi you can take out a day. So they’re creating that panic to begin with. When you put a limit, what happens? People don’t trust the money that they put in the bank anymore. They’d rather put it in a shoebox. To make matters worse, there is food inflation and the Chinese government printing money, and so money is worth less today than yesterday. And they realized that, but they are concerned [that] you can’t pull any money out, all gone, which happened.
And so that was one of the issues that you see, and this is only getting worse because when you have 250 million people out of job and they are talking about everybody should be a vendor, right? Vendor economy, and then floods and natural disasters will create a food safety issue, food security issue, so things are happening.
And [with these] kinds of things happening, think about this: We want US-based Chinese dissidents to communicate with Chinese people in China and show them the mob families’ children, grandchildren, legitimate and illegitimate, driving fancy cars, super-duper cars, [and living in] multi-million-dollar homes. And meanwhile, Chinese people can’t even buy food anymore. What would happen? You will see more fires, more demonstrations. So that’s how we envision bringing down CCP.
Mr. Jekielek: In your imagination, is this something that can happen bloodlessly or is this something that there needs to be a physical, violent revolution?
Mr. Yue: Xi Jinping is a coward—we know that. I think he is not going to get his third term.
And I also see too many two-star generals, three-star generals, released [from duty]. The latest is commander of Beijing Military District, responsible for leadership security—Zhongnanhai security actually. This is really big. He is a second-generation red elite with family backgrounds connected to CCP elites and part of mob family members. When he releases people like this, it tells me that he is so insecure to the point that he has to disappear one month, two months, at a time in hiding.
He knows better than we do and rumor has it, there were [already] several assassination attempts on him. So how long he’s going to be there is a question, and now we see external pressure coming from the U.S. I call them the free hyenas, tigers, and lions led by a lion king, right? This group is coming at you from the inside. You have grassroots level, you have mob family level, uprising, and how long are you going to last? That is the question for Xi Jinping to answer.
Mr. Jekielek: Do you expect people will actually start quitting the CCP officially if these sanctions come into play?
Mr. Yue: Absolutely. And Xi Jinping talked about [how] he is a defender of globalization. Actually, globalization really corrupted CCP members. Today, they no longer worship Marxism, right? They worship the U.S. dollar, right? And because of that, everybody focuses on the money. And lip service to Xi Jinping, including chanting, “Long live Xi Jinping” and, “Long live the CCP” is on the surface only. In reality, [they will] do anything for money.
So based on that, when their money is threatened, and they can’t make money, guess what? They’re going to rise up and that’s why with any kind of revolution, you have to have two [groups] rising up. You have to have grassroots, as well as elites. Without elites, a revolution fails. Throughout history, when you have elites rise up with grassroots, then revolution will succeed. So at the end of the day, we cannot destroy CCP from all sides. The CCP has to be destroyed from within.
Mr. Jekielek: Basically, the Chinese people have to decide to do it.
Mr. Yue: That’s correct. We can create an environment for that. That’s what Pompeo’s speech is all about.
Mr. Jekielek: You were talking about the money becoming worth less. Do you see the peg against the dollar, a sensible peg against the dollar, changing?
Mr. Yue: Well, I think the value of the yuan is going up clearly, and they are devalued yuan, and at one point we called it manipulating their yuan against the dollar during the trade war. So in their mind, they can export more products and absorb the hit from the tariffs. But it won’t work anymore because nobody buys their products, their factories are not getting orders. We know that, right?
Now, the takedown of the CCP, from our perspective, [is really a] non-military takedown. If they want to fight, we are capable of giving them a bloody nose. As simple as that. But the takedown really is on the economic side, like Reagan did to the USSR. And so we do have an option. The option is to take away Chinese banks’ ability to settle their transactions worldwide in U.S. dollars. Deny their dollar clearance authority. [The U.S.] Treasury can do that tomorrow.
But I call that an “economic nuclear option.” I don’t think we have to go there yet. We can go there in Hong Kong, by the way, and do that to Hong Kong, the banks in Hong Kong. We’ll show them what would happen if we do that to all Chinese banks, small and big, including the big four [Chinese] banks.
Mr. Jekielek: When I asked about the peg, about the renminbi, I’m thinking about the Hong Kong dollar. There’s people even making some big bets against the Hong Kong dollar keeping that peg. What are your thoughts?
Mr. Yue: I think probably we’ll reach a point where we [do] not allow Hong Kong banks to do U.S. dollar transactions. And that happens basically for two purposes. One is [to] clearly, clearly punish China for this Hong Kong national security law. Very important. We have to take a stand. We have to defend Hong Kong freedom fighters, and Hong Kong autonomy, and freedom as promised by CCP to them.
And two, why do you think we dropped a nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, right? Just to demonstrate what we can do to you. So if you do that in Hong Kong, to the Hong Kong banks, the CCP has to think about what we can do to all Chinese banks, small and big, and their economy is going to be in freefall—tanking. So you don’t have to have a military fight to make them surrender.
We can do an economic fight and bring the CCP down to their knees. That’s the bottom line. We know that, but Pompeo is a diplomat. Of course, he is not going to talk like this, right? But we can interpret what he was saying yesterday.
Mr. Jekielek: What you’re describing, if we were to do that in Hong Kong, if that became the American policy, that would devastate the Hong Kong economy and of course, the Chinese economy as well, most likely. What are the people you’re talking to in Hong Kong thinking about that prospect? It’ll be really rough times over there, right?
Mr. Yue: Yes. They’ve been telling me, “Go all the way,” for quite some time. I was very, very reluctant. But after the CCP passed the Hong Kong national security law, I realized. I tweeted to Pompeo directly, “Go for broke.” So what you are seeing, including “go for broke,” means two things. One, you’re not going to allow Hong Kong banks to do U.S. dollar transactions. That’s the last step—we’re going to get there. The first step is to revoke the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act. Trump already made an announcement of that with the exact order. So this is happening already.
Mr. Jekielek: This is another question. The other key element, in my mind and I think you mentioned this earlier, of the secretary’s speech was this idea of creating an alliance of countries that basically have rule of law and some democratic principles and so forth. You just described it in a very colorful way. How realistic is this? People have been talking about the U.S. stepping back from the global stage. That’s been one of the ways that this has been portrayed, certainly from some of these multilateral organizations, the WHO, the Human Rights Council and so forth. How do you see this progressing?
Mr. Yue: I see this: Actually the U.S. is the lion king and provides the leadership for right reasons, for principles. During the old days, I hated going into politics. Now, actually, let me go into politics [in] this way. Today, we see a purpose to bring down what I call a “new fascist regime.”
The reason I call China, the CCP, a new fascist regime [is because of] what they did to the Tibetans, what they did to Falun Gong. They butcher Falun Gong practitioners for profit via organ harvesting. It is the worst kind of crimes against humanity. Worse than Hitler—Hitler just terminated Jews. Now, profit from their body parts, and then put more than 1 million Uyghurs into concentration camps. Then butcher them as well for profit, to sell their organs to the Muslim world.
You can’t imagine anyone, any civilization or civilized countries, would do that to human beings. Then what do we see? The CCP virus attack on the world. The minute you stop travel domestically and allow 50,000 to 60,000 Wuhan residents to travel overseas to infect others—this looks more like jihadist boom. Instead of strapping themselves with a bomb for a suicide mission, they come with a virus. And in fact, right now, worldwide, over 600,000 dead—killed! The U.S. has 147,000 killed!
So you realize this is a regime that disregards values, disregards human lives, for profit, and would try to do anything to dominate the world. I escaped, and I have no place to go, so it’s time to fight before they get to me. It used to be that they killed millions inside China. With that virus, they can reach us in the U.S. and anywhere in the world. So if this is not a fight to death, I don’t know what else it is, but for our own lives and for our freedom. So that’s how I see it.
Mr. Jekielek: So Solomon, when it comes to these international relationships, there’s a lot of alliances being formed traditionally. Russia and China have formed a voting bloc at the UN against the U.S., but that may be changing right now. Now, I don’t know about the U.N. in general, but India is making some overtures. I know this is something you’ve been thinking about.
Mr. Yue: Yes, I do. I have been questioning. I call Xi Jinping, “Xitler.” When Hitler fought two fronts and lost, then I turned around and realized, Xitler is fighting so many fronts—it’s not even funny anymore—[simultaneously]: Hong Kong, Taiwan, South China Sea, India, and Japan to name a few, and the U.S. of course. And when you see this, you’ll say, “Wow! During the Cold War 1.0, we saw that at least the USSR got its Warsaw Pack, those East European satellite nations, states.
Today, Putin is not there for several reasons. One, Putin does not want to be Xi Jinping’s junior partner. And the other thing is Putin is worried about Siberia, and illegal Chinese immigrants moving to Siberia. As a matter of fact, during the CCP virus epidemic, Putin kicked out 1 million Chinese citizens, and China wouldn’t dare to protest and downplayed it.
But the worst part I saw was Putin got on RT—Russian Today, a TV channel 100 percent controlled by Putin—to release a clip of Putin speaking in Russian calling Xi Jinping a “lone warrior” and laughing at him. And Xi Jinping is stupid enough to smile back and not even realize this is happening. And Putin got RT to release that clip, so this tells me Putin is testing Xi Jinping, and Xi Jinping didn’t even realize this.
So now, what happened was, he engaged India in a border dispute. India hit back and killed more Chinese PLA soldiers. That’s another humiliation for Xi Jinping. Now, [India’s Prime Minister Narendra] Modi went to Russia asking Putin for tanks and air defense system and to deliver them immediately. Putin honored [the request]. And it tells me Modi is actually breaking so-called Xi and Putin’s Alliance.
There is no such alliance to begin with, but the media wants us to believe that there is such an alliance. Putin is for Putin; Putin is for Russia. Putin is not for China. And so when you see this, you realize today, if there is an alliance, it will be Venezuela, [which is] bankrupt, Iran, and North Korea. That’s China’s alliance for this Cold War 2.0. As you can see, militarily speaking, Xi is going nowhere. That’s why I’m confident [that] we are not going to have a 45 years Cold War 2.0. Period.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s talk briefly about the change in the approach to the South China Sea, and Secretary Pompeo mentioned that as well. I think he’s described it as eight years of turning the cheek, so to speak, is over. We’ve seen the carrier groups heading into the South China Sea and so forth, which is a completely new phenomenon. What is the implication for Taiwan and for PRC?
Mr. Yue: The implication for Taiwan is that even though we didn’t say anything about defending Taiwan, the bottom line is we will. By the way, QUAD [Quadrilateral Security Dialogue] really is India, Australia, Japan, and the U.S., the new alliance, plus one, which is the UK. The UK is sending their latest, most fancy, aircraft carrier to the South China Sea as well. So you can hold the QUAD plus one together. … Taiwan will be defended. That’s the bottom line.
And also, you see that Taiwan plays a role that is very, very important to the freedom of the world and to bringing down the CCP as well. And so this is a new phenomena. If you remember, the U.S. military based in South Korea is a tripwire. Actually, Hong Kong is our new tripwire based on the concept that if you can’t honor the Hong Kong people and the [Hong Kong] Basic Law and international treaty, you will never honor anything—that kind of tripwire.
So when they passed [the] Hong Kong national security law, they tripped the wire but they didn’t even realize this. Hong Kong people will say, “First Hong Kong, then Taiwan.” No. First Hong Kong, then the … CCP virus attack on the U.S.—that’s the second. Between those two, CCP is doomed. We’re coming for the CCP.
Mr. Jekielek: Solomon, this has been a fascinating discussion. Any final words before we finish up?
Mr. Yue: Yes, in your lifetime, my lifetime, we will see the demise of the CCP. We will see the Chinese people freed as well.
Mr. Jekielek: Solomon Yue, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Mr. Yue: Thank you, and thank you for having me.
Since this interview was filmed, the Chinese Consulate in Houston has closed and the Chinese researcher who took refuge in the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco was taken into federal custody.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.