Gordon Chang: On the Hong Kong Security Law, the India China Standoff, and Banning TikTok

Just over a week in, what do we know about the National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing?

Why hasn’t President Trump yet signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act?

How is the Chinese regime becoming increasingly belligerent internationally, from its border with India to the South China Sea?

And, how does the Chinese regime mine and use the data of Americans? Should the U.S. ban Chinese-owned apps like TikTok?

In this episode, we sit down with political commentator and China analyst Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China.”

This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

Jan Jekielek: Gordon Chang, it’s such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Gordon Chang: Thank you so much.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon, it’s been over a week now since the implementation of the Hong Kong national security law, and we’ve seen all sorts of impacts. What are you seeing?

Mr. Chang: Well, essentially, China has been successful, at least this week, in intimidating Hong Kong society with the national security law. It’s draconian. People say—and I think they’re right—that this is not just a law; this is the end of law. The reason is because it gives Beijing the right to do anything it wants. So we have seen, for instance, people delete their Twitter accounts, pro-democracy groups have disbanded, people are not talking to foreigners outside, as a number of my friends have noticed in the last three or four days. So essentially, Beijing has been able to dominate the narrative.

The one thing though is that this is an insurgency in Hong Kong, which means insurgencies can disappear, but they come back, because they’ve got support in the community. This is not just a protest movement which can dissipate; this is something which is long-term. Although Beijing has been winning this week, I’m not so sure that it is winning the war.

Mr. Jekielek: I think on the first or second day at least, there were actually people coming out into the streets protesting this, not in the numbers like before but still some.

Mr. Chang: Yes. July 1st marks the handover of the territory from Britain to China. There has been a July 1st march every year since 1997. This year, it wasn’t permitted for the first time, but nonetheless, you did have thousands of people come out. Also on July 1st, you had 370 arrests. Ten of those were under the national security law, and as we’re finding out, that law is being implemented strictly, because the first person arrested is going to have his hearings in October, and there’s no bail. So clearly, China intends to take people off the streets permanently. And clearly, there are a number of things that can occur, because China’s security services have the right to roam Hong Kong free of interference from the Hong Kong authorities, so they will do what they want, and this could get much worse before it gets better.

Mr. Jekielek: There’s this Article 48 of the national security law, the Office for Safeguarding National Security [of the CPG in the HKSAR]. Tell me about that.

Mr. Chang: The Office for Safeguarding National Security [of the CPG in the HKSAR], essentially can set its own jurisdiction. It is not subject to Hong Kong law, and so it can essentially do what it wants. As we saw a couple days ago, it established its own headquarters in the Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay, essentially took over a building, and it is going to operate free of any constraints from the Hong Kong authorities or Hong Kong law. This is going to be extremely draconian, because these guys can do what they want. This is sort of like Third-Reich-type security services.

Now, this Office for Safeguarding National Security [of the CPG in the HKSAR] has issued out its first implementing rules under Article 43, giving the Hong Kong Police the authority to do whatever they want. So for instance, warrantless searches, freezing of assets, they can demand that internet companies remove content, they can demand that organizations outside of Hong Kong actually turn over material, though I don’t know how they’re going to enforce that. But nonetheless, it’s powers are extremely broad, and as we’re going to find out, its powers are going to get broader and broader over time.

Mr. Jekielek: As you’re describing it, it reminds me of the 610 Office, the extrajudicial organization charged with persecuting the Falun Gong all these years.

Mr. Chang: Yes, and people have also compared it to the Gestapo. This is a group that’s got to be feared.

Mr. Jekielek: Now, there’s also this Article 38 of the national security law. In my reading, could it be that our conversation right now is actually potentially criminalized? It seems to apply broadly, extraterritorially? Can you tell me about that?

Mr. Chang: Sure. I’m going to violate Article 38 right now. I believe that people in Hong Kong have the right of self-determination. Now that’s a clear violation of the national security law, because that would be secessionist or subversion, whatever you want to call it. But what are they going to do? The problem for Hong Kong right now is that countries are starting to recognize the extraterritoriality of this law, and Canada has actually suspended the application of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and I think other countries are going to follow.

Clearly, the United States, for instance, has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, but it’s not going to be useful for the Chinese authorities, largely because this would be considered a political crime, and the United States is not going to extradite people for that. So from what we can see, I think we’re going to see an isolation of China and Hong Kong because of this.

Nonetheless, this one thing, Jan, tells us something critically important, and that is China’s moves have no bounds. They want to criminalize behavior everywhere. They want to determine what is acceptable conversation and thoughts everywhere, and so we’ve got to recognize the breath of Chinese ambition.

Mr. Jekielek:  Let’s talk about the suspension of the extradition laws briefly. So Australia has done it now, Canada has done it, it’s obviously a statement in itself. Do you think the U.S. should do it?

Mr. Chang: The U.S. should definitely do it. There are a number of things the U.S. has done already in terms of imposing costs on Hong Kong for this law, but there’s a lot of other things we can do. One of them, of course, is going to be the Hong Kong Autonomy Act passed by both Houses of Congress without a dissenting vote—now on the President’s desk for signature. That has provisions for sanctions of Hong Kong officials who have been eroding authority, and that’s not a great cost for China.

The one thing it can do, though, is impose costs on financial institutions that maintain accounts with sanctioned officials. Some of those costs include denying access to the U.S. dollar, which means for an international bank, it can’t transact business in dollars. That’s a death sentence, so there are real teeth in this. We also know that the Hong Kong monetary authority, which is essentially the central bank, borrows dollars on an unlimited basis from the Fed, and the U.S. could close that window down.

There’s a number of things that we can do, and we can ramp up the pressure over time. I think that we need to do it, because China’s made it very clear that they are going to subject Hong Kong to basically semi-totalitarian controls. They’ve started on that road, and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to pull back unless the costs from the international community are higher than the benefits that they perceive they get from fully taking over Hong Kong.

Mr. Jekielek:  So why do you think this bill has been on the President’s desk for so long since the way it was passed, I think, rarely with complete unanimous consent?

Mr. Chang:  Yes. This is puzzling, and it’s also troubling. The President didn’t announce immediately that he would sign this. I actually think that this is sort of a bit of showmanship. We have heard from senior administration officials this week—Secretary of State Pompeo, Attorney General Barr, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows—that there’s going to be a series of actions on China, and I would suspect that the President is going to get out his signing pen and sign this bill in conjunction with the issuance of the executive orders that people have been talking about. I don’t know, I’m just guessing, but I think that we can hold off the criticism at least until next week. If he doesn’t sign it by next week, then that’s a different story. But I do think it’s going to be part of a series of measures that are designed to impose these costs on both Beijing and Hong Kong.

Mr. Jekielek: I want to talk about a number of these initiatives. There’s so many things that are going on simultaneously. It’s almost very difficult to keep track. Talking about Hong Kong, what is the impact of this law on big tech and how big tech functions there?

Mr. Chang: Well, what Twitter, Facebook, and Google did was they announced two days ago that they would no longer honor user data requests from the Hong Kong government, and a number of other apps have done the same as well including, interestingly, Zoom. And perhaps the most astonishing development of all, TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company, ultimately has decided not to do business in Hong Kong and basically abandoned a very expensive lease for which it’s going to pay a lot of money.

I think what we’re seeing is that tech companies realize the breadth of what China wants to do in Hong Kong, and they really can’t maintain their business model if they comply with those requests, because users around the world would be outraged, as they should. So this is one of those rare good moves on the part of tech companies. We’re going to see, as a part of this decoupling between the United States and China, that tech companies are going to be forced out of China one way or another, and that’s a good thing because of this whole concept of civil-military fusion, which means that there’s really no civilian tech cooperation in China. It all gets pipelined into the People’s Liberation Army. We’ve got to understand that the only way to protect ourselves is to decouple.

Mr. Jekielek: We’ll definitely talk more about decoupling in a moment, but let’s talk about TikTok for a sec. Is this TikTok basically exiting Hong Kong? It’s not a huge number of users. … Is that just pure showmanship? This has been described as a massive intelligence gathering operation for the CCP.

Mr. Chang: I don’t know what’s in TikTok’s mind, but I think that it was more than just showmanship. I think that they were under the same pressures that other companies were. TikTok is definitely a bad actor. For instance, Apple has caught TikTok twice this year, once in April, once at the end of last month [June], surveilling iPhone users. This was part of a concerted campaign to take information off of users’ phones, and we have seen TikTok being used in other ways by China. I think that at the end of this analysis, … I hope that what we’re going to see this week is the U.S. ban TikTok from America, just as India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps a couple of weeks ago. This will be very important for us.

There’s a number of things going on here, but one of the things that you point out about this massive surveillance operation is that all of this data that TikTok and other Chinese apps accumulate is then fed into China’s artificial intelligence systems. That of course is used and will be used against us. So it’s important for the administration to do what they’ve signaled this week, and to go ahead and start banning Chinese apps.

Mr. Jekielek: That’s right. Secretary Pompeo, I think, reiterated that the goal is to safeguard data of American citizens, much broader than TikTok per se. But here’s a question that’s been floated and I’ve seen some various responses on it: Is China actually interested in having profiles, much as Facebook does, on Americans?

Mr. Chang: Yes, of course. It’s useful for all sorts of purposes. First of all, in general, AI systems work on data. China’s AI is probably not as sophisticated as America’s, but it doesn’t really matter in a sense because the more data you put into an AI system, the better it will operate. China doesn’t have privacy concerns, so they can just dump the world’s data into their systems, so that for them is going to be critical.

But also with data, you can do all sorts of things. You can find out who would be vulnerable to spying and all the rest of it. You find people’s vulnerabilities; you can exploit them. That’s what Beijing has been doing, especially. They’ve been mining all of the U.S. big medical insurers. That’s what’s going on there. And, of course, [there was] the hack of the Office of Personnel Management which was also directed to finding out who they could entice into spying. So that’s important for them. They believe the more information, the better. They’ve been covering this up.

This is an issue of Chinese villainy, but it’s also, I think more important, an issue of America’s inability to defend its networks. We’ve known about this for decades; we haven’t been doing it. We’ve sort of told the Chinese, “Hey, come right in and take whatever you want.” So this has really been an issue of the United States not taking those steps that are absolutely necessary to protect our information.

Mr. Jekielek: Speaking of being massively compromised, in one of these speeches recently at the Hudson Institute that was given by Christopher Wray, he talks about one of the biggest transfers of wealth in the history of the world. It’s a very dramatic statement but probably apt. It’s not just data—we’re talking about massive amounts of money and intellectual property. You obviously are very familiar with this speech. What was outlined there that was new?

Mr. Chang: I think what was new was the number of counterintelligence cases that the FBI has against China. If you go back about a year, maybe 18 months, they were talking of over 1000 cases. Yet in that Hudson Institute speech, Wray put it at slightly under 2500. He talked about 5000 cases, [and] he said almost half of them were China-related, so that puts us at a much higher number than they’ve disclosed in the past. In a sense, we shouldn’t be surprised because I didn’t think the FBI was ever going to tell us how many cases that they were operating. But the … statistics that caught everybody was that it’s not only all 56 field offices that have these Chinese espionage cases, but that 1 [new case] is opened every 10 hours. … That’s a detail we didn’t know, and it’s a detail which actually puts into very stark relief what’s going on here, that this counterintelligence effort is absolutely essential and that China is relentlessly attacking American society.

Mr. Jekielek: Something that’s related, I believe it’s today that the second part of the ban on the Federal procurement from the five companies, with Huawei being in the lead, is coming into effect. I think now you’re not going to be allowed even to work with contractors that work with that equipment. What is the significance of that?

Mr. Chang: The significance is that over the course of a year, we have seen more and more restrictions put on Huawei. Now Huawei has been put on the entity list along with many of its subsidiaries, but there has been a granting of waivers. What we have also seen is the scope of those waivers are being narrowed, which means that the restrictions on Huawei are greater and greater. We saw the Federal Communications Commission actually also impose additional restrictions on Huawei. So this is really important.

China has been given an opportunity to come clean, they’ve been given an opportunity to work better and more cooperatively with the world, but they haven’t responded, and so this is to be expected. We are going to see more and more restrictions on Chinese companies, especially Huawei, ZTE, and its cousins, and that’s a really important thing.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about China not responding to opportunities to cooperate. … Last time we spoke extensively was when we were learning the realities of coronavirus. You actually talked about how if it wasn’t originally a bioweapon, they basically weaponized it effectively through policy. And so recently we actually found out that, contrary to what we had heard from Chinese officials and the World Health Organization itself, the Chinese regime didn’t report in late 2019 that there was coronavirus.

Mr. Chang: That’s right.

Mr. Jekielek: This puts this whole WHO relationship in stark relief, and so now we have the full withdrawal or at least I heard there’s some debate about whether it’s possible that maybe Congress is needed. I don’t know the rules exactly. But what do you think?

Mr. Chang: Well, it’s important to withdraw from the WHO, and the reason is the organization is not reformable. It is a UN body; the WHO is subject to demands from political actors that are considered legitimate, but really are not. We’re talking about the Chinas and Russias of the world. Within that type of umbrella, I don’t think that it is possible to make meaningful changes to the WHO.

The WHO was involved in some very dangerous activities, and the reason why I say dangerous is because they help spread the coronavirus. China didn’t admit that this disease was human-to-human transmissible for a period of five weeks. … When it knew it was H2H but didn’t say anything, that would have been grossly irresponsible. But what China tried to do was to propagate a false narrative that it was not human-to-human transmissible.

We can expect the Chinese to be villainous and the rest of it, but the World Health Organization helped propagate that narrative to the rest of the world with its January 14 tweet. Also with its January 10 statement, it helped China pressure countries not to impose travel restrictions. You put those two things together, and that’s what turned an epidemic that should have been confined to the central part of China, and made it into a global pandemic. Also, even after China admitted the human-to-human transmissibility of this, the WHO helped China by expressing confidence in its statistics on infections and deaths, thereby lulling the international community into not adopting precautions.

And of course the WHO—and it was pressured by China to do this—delayed the declaration of [Public Health Emergency of International Concern] and also of a pandemic. Both of those declarations were delayed because of China. So we put all this together, and we have to say that the WHO was a bad actor in this, was complicit with China, and indeed, there are more deaths and more infections because of the WHO. There is a lot of good work that is done by the doctors and the other specialists of the WHO, but it really is nullified by the political establishment that controls that organization. That organization, as President Trump said, is being run by China.

Mr. Jekielek: We’re also hearing reports of other epidemics. There’s swine flu which we’re hearing may be human-to-human transmissible, and there’s even some isolated cases of bubonic plague. … How do we deal with this as the West if we can’t count on organizations like the WHO?

Mr. Chang: That means we’ve got to decouple from China, because we can’t trust China. We can’t trust international institutions like the WHO. I’m not so worried about the bubonic plague. These cases have arisen time after time in Inner Mongolia. The other cases of bubonic plague in the United States [is] in the southwest. But I do think we have to keep an eye on the G4 virus, which is that swine flu that you mentioned, because that does have pandemic potential. It is human-to-human transmissible; it actually has jumped from pigs to humans already, and so this is something that we need to look at.

Fortunately, foreign organizations, not the WHO but just foreign virologists, have been working with China and so we have a fairly good idea of what’s going on with G4. But G4 can get out of control. And so as you point out, China right now is generating a lot of diseases. It’s got African swine fever for the pigs, it’s got rust worm. Who knows what else is being generated on Chinese soil right now. As we saw with the coronavirus, this can have disastrous, cataclysmic consequences for the world.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon, we were talking about the extensive data gathering, and I started thinking about the reality in Xinjiang where they’ve fully implemented in a very localized way this whole extensive social credit cameras [system] on the Uyghurs and so forth. Recently there’s been this complaint that was actually submitted to the ICC, talking about all sorts of terrible things now verified, like the forced sterilizations essentially amounting to arguably genocide. You comment on this, that Chinese leaders have committed acts of genocides and other crimes against humanity. We’ve just talked about a whole bunch of things that are very troubling. This is something that’s perhaps another level of troubling.

Mr. Chang: Well, certainly. The forced birth control, forced sterilization, forced abortions, does meet the definition of genocide in this case, because these are targeted on a racial group which is different than the dominant racial group in China. You add that to the forced labor, the transfer of Uyghurs across China, in conditions which [are] close to slavery, and of course, the concentration camps. At least 1.3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others, maybe as many as 3 million.

This is Third-Reich-type stuff. These are crimes against humanity, and the international community has yet to fully recognize what this means, not only for the affected populations, but also just for the world. We’re facing another situation where the world has turned its back, and I think that it’s important that the United States and other countries start to cut their relations with China because we cannot afford to deal with a regime like that.

Mr. Jekielek: So you’re arguing that human rights should be brought back into the discussion of trade, and into the discussion of decoupling and so forth. That’s been one of the arguments I’ve heard.

Mr. Chang: Yeah. If China were a perfect citizen but was committing genocide and maintaining the concentration camps, the world should have nothing to do with China. But of course, that’s not the state. We’re seeing China engage in a range of very belligerent and provocative actions. On the night of June 15th, [the CCP] killed 20 Indian soldiers; Indian troops are defending themselves. We’ve got to remember that the Chinese are not only in areas that are south of the line of actual control, in disputed areas, Chinese troops are actually in undisputed Indian territory.

You’ve got the boat bumping and other incidents in the South China Sea, East China Sea, the increased tempo of dangerous intercepts of the U.S. Navy in the global commons, the repeated threats to invade Taiwan, all of these hostile words, these disinformation campaigns directed against the United States and others—this is really troubling, Jan, because what we’re seeing right now is a China which is lashing out at everybody. … There’s a lot of argument about why China is doing this but it is exceedingly dangerous whatever the reason.

Mr. Jekielek: … Let’s talk about the Indian situation briefly, because … there’s always been this kind of animosity on the border in the Himalayas there, but these are the first deaths in 20 years or longer, perhaps.

Mr. Chang:  I think it’s since 1975. The point is this is decades. … There’s been a series of incidents over the last decade of large-scale Chinese incursions into Indian-controlled territory. This feels different. This feels much more determined, the buildup on the Chinese side is greater than we’ve seen in the past, and as I mentioned, it occurs in a series of other troubling incidents. So we’ve got to be concerned that this is very different from what we’ve seen in the past.

If I could put this into context for a second, China doesn’t believe our warnings, and that’s understandable because the U.S. has issued all sorts of warnings to China over the decades and not followed up. And so of course, the Chinese hear what we say and they say, “Oh, that’s just America. We don’t have to worry about that.”

This really brings us back to the period starting in 1936 up into 1939 where London and Paris issued warnings to the Third Reich. Of course, being the way they were, they didn’t impose costs, and so we get to the summer of 1939, Hitler is threatening to invade Poland, and Britain and France say [that] if you do that, we’re going to go to war. We know from the German archives that Hitler didn’t believe London and Paris, and why should he, because they were issuing these series of warnings and not doing anything about it. He felt that he could safely invade Poland, and that Britain and France would stay on the sidelines. Well, we know what happened.

The point is that this is an exceedingly dangerous time, because we have to teach China, for the first time, that our warnings actually mean something. That means that the risk of miscalculation on the part of China is extremely high, especially because they have an aggressive leader. So that’s what’s at stake here. … You can talk about the South China Sea or India, or whatever, but the point is that Beijing right now is in a position where it believes it can do what it wants, and the international community has been pushed too far, and that is the time of great danger in history. That’s why I’m so concerned about this particular moment.

Mr. Jekielek: I’m even seeing Indian analysts and numerous ones, and this is something I hadn’t seen before, basically saying [that] we have to do something that effectively makes China loose face, make it very clear to them that they can’t do what they did before, that this is essential. Otherwise, we’re just going to get more of this.

Mr. Chang: Yes, there were 20 Indian soldiers that were killed on the night of June 15th. It’s believed that the number of Chinese soldiers was in excess to that. Beijing is only admitting to, I think, one death of an officer, and this goes into this issue of losing face. But more important, what India is doing by cutting economic ties with China is going to have a far greater impact because. As I mentioned, TikTok and those other Chinese apps are no longer going to be supplying data to China. This is going to affect the value of these companies, because they can no longer do business in what will soon become the world’s most popular state if it isn’t already. Of course, China is losing an important market. Now if it loses the United States as a market at the same time, this is really going to affect Chinese behavior, but we have got to act right now, because this is one of those moments that is a hinge for history.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon, again, speaking of that area way up in the Himalayas there, another thing we just learned recently is that the State Department intends to implement the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act. What is the significance of that?

Mr. Chang: Well, this means we’re going to put visa bans on Chinese officials who have prevented Americans from getting access to Tibet, so it is indeed reciprocal. It’s not a major cost imposed on China, but it’s a symbolic one. As we know, symbolism is so important for an insecure, hostile regime like China’s, so they take this with a great amount of consequence. I think that is a great thing to do, but obviously, we need to do more, because the crimes against humanity that are now occurring in the northwestern part of the country, what the Uyghurs call East Turkestan, those have been the same types of tactics used in Tibet. We don’t hear about Tibet as much. I’m glad we’re starting to impose costs, but we need to do much more, because the situation in Tibet, like it is in Xinjiang, is dire.

Mr. Jekielek: Let’s talk about this decoupling. Actually, I wanted to get your take, because I know this is something you follow quite closely. I saw you discussing Senator Rick Scott’s PRIME Act recently. That’s more about basically getting production into the United States, but we also have had this recent press conference with the president of Mexico. America and Mexico are getting closer together. … Can we expect that Mexico will be doing more decoupling and recoupling with the U.S.?

Mr. Chang: I think that with the [United States–Mexico–Canada] Agreement, we’re going to see much closer integration with our two neighbors in terms of manufacturing. This, of course, started with NAFTA, and now with the new agreement. I actually think that we are going to see an … intensified effort on the part of the administration to get factories off of Chinese soil—[if] not into American soil, at least into this hemisphere, which helps us anyway.

We had all those businesses in Central America that left for China when China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, and that destabilized those communities which is the reason why we had those caravans. If factories go back into Central America, it means that Central Americans are not going to be moving through Mexico and China to get into the United States, and we’ll have a much more prosperous and stable neighborhood. So that’s a really good thing for us.

We’ve seen and heard Larry Kudlow on a number of occasions talk about granting 100 percent tax write-offs for American companies that are taking their factories out of China and onto U.S. soil. I sort of expect to see something like that in the announcements this week, because Kudlow has talked about this consistently, so it seems like it’s hardening into policies. But [the] more and more we do this, we are going to have a decoupling.

Incidentally, the other thing that’s going on at the same time is that the [US-China] phase one trade deal, signed January 15th, looks like it’s in trouble. It may not be over as Peter Navarro, the national trade director says, but nonetheless, it looks almost over because China is not meeting its purchase commitments to the United States. It’s well behind schedule and that, of course, is the core commitment on the part of China, at least [as] far [as] the United States is concerned.

Mr. Jekielek: And just briefly, one of these areas of decoupling which is perhaps one of the biggest national security risks is the medicines, the precursors. The medicines were produced to the tune of 90 percent within China. Do you know anything about the process of repatriating some of that production or at least getting it onto friendlier shores?

Mr. Chang: It’s not happening. Navarro has talked for a long time about a draft executive order that the president would sign that would give substantial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to move production out of China. That executive order has been talked about and talked about and talked about and hasn’t seen the light of day. Now we know that trade groups and also the Chamber of Commerce have been lobbying intensely against those provisions.

So we’ll see what happens this week about whether that’s included in the draft of executive orders that have been promised. I hope that indeed it is, because this is just an unacceptable situation where China can hold the United States hostage. It’s not like this is a theoretical risk. We’ve gotten bad medicines from China in the past, especially heparin, and Americans have died because of this, and we have done nothing. Again, this is another issue of China being a bad actor, but it’s also another more important issue of American leadership not defending the United States.

Mr. Jekielek: … China has frankly threatened the U.S. around this, something about [plunging] the U.S. [into the mighty] sea of coronavirus. It’s in one of the mouthpiece media. This isn’t like a casual thing, right?

Mr. Chang: Yeah. That particular statement, I think it was [on] March 3, came from Xinhua news agency, which means it was official. So, [plunging] the United States into “the mighty sea of coronavirus” is official.

Mr. Jekielek: So let’s talk about this PRIME Act which I saw is something that you’re getting behind and you think is important. This is something we’ve been covering a lot, … this type of repatriation of manufacturing and so forth. …  Is any of the legislation or related legislation having any impact at this point?

Mr. Chang: I think that eventually will have an impact but not now. The one thing [about] the PRIME Act which I think is critically important is that it will require websites to include country of origin information. For instance, if you go onto Amazon right now, you can buy a lot of stuff, but you don’t know where it comes from, and what we need to do is actually start to include that information, so consumers can make a choice. Consumers can decide not to buy something from China. This is one of those things in conjunction with many other things that we must do that will help to decouple, because I believe that American consumers eventually will make the right decisions. By the way, this is not just a political issue, this is an issue of quality because we know that a lot of the stuff that we buy from China is very poorly made.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon, in the last couple of days, we’ve seen the Chinese Foreign Minister basically talked about how China doesn’t intend to impose itself on the world as many like you and me suspect with strong evidence it intends to. Your thoughts?

Mr. Chang: The Chinese Foreign Minister will say anything. This is always China’s line—that they want to cooperate, they believe in a shared humanity, [and] all the rest of it, but we’ve got to look at the reality of what China is doing. Whether we’re talking about coronavirus, we’re talking about the Himalayas or the South China Sea, or trade, China is acting in a way which is extremely selfish, belligerent, provocative, and aggressive. You’ve just got to look at what these guys are doing; not what they’re saying.

Mr. Jekielek: So in your mind, what would it take for the Chinese Communist Party or China to regain the trust of Americans, or what should it take to regain the trust and become a good partner?

Mr. Chang: I don’t think the Communist Party can do that. I think the only way that China can regain the trust of the United States and the international community is to get rid of communism, and establish a multiparty democracy and a free economy. We want to work with China; we want to see China succeed and prosper, but we don’t want to see a militant regime take over the world.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon Chang any final words before we finish up?

Mr. Chang: This is just such an important time, Jan. We have seen a China which looks untethered, and we have seen unrelenting attacks on the American Republic and indeed on the international community as a whole. And we, Americans, have got to realize that yes, we can have differences among ourselves, but every single day, we’re subject to an existential challenge from China. We cannot assume that the American Republic will survive, because China means us harm.

Mr. Jekielek: Gordon Chang, such a pleasure to have you on again.

Mr. Chang: It was such great pleasure for me to be here, so thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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