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M. Pillsbury: Address to Peace Summit 2023, Session V-Think Tank 2022 Forum

It is an honor to address the Think Tank 2022 Forum series. At the second Conference of Hope on December 16, 2022, we discussed reports of China’s desire to rewrite parts of the Holy Bible, China’s strict controls on Christian churches, the Uyghurs, and China’s support of the Japanese Communist Party’s wild claims to exploit the assassination of Prime Minister Abe by linking the assassin’s mother’s donations twenty years ago to the Unification Church.

Back in December, we also discussed the wishful thinking about Christianity in China, including the famous book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity Is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power (2003), by Dr. David Aikman, Time Magazine’s Bureau Chief in Beijing. He wrote: “Within the next thirty years, one third of China’s population could be Christian, making China one of the largest Christian nations in the world.”

This forecast was not the only wishful thinking. American columnist Gordon Chang’s 2001 best seller, The Coming Collapse of China, specifically predicted that the collapse would happen in 2012. As then Vice President Mike Pence pointed out in a speech at the Hudson Institute in 2018, since 2001 instead of a collapse, China’s economy grew 900%—yes, ten times stronger economically while many were awaiting a collapse.  

I would like to discuss two books with you today—the first one I authored. The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower covers fifty years of the secret side of America-China relations and includes more than twenty top-secret American documents—all legally declassified by the CIA and the Pentagon. The book has been translated by China’s neighbors, into Korean and Japanese where it became the number two national best seller, as well as Vietnamese, Mongolian, Hindi and Hebrew. Both China and Taiwan published translations. The book gives the reader the chance to learn how Chinese authors, especially the hawks, think and write about how to replace America.

The second book was published by the Heritage Foundation and is called Winning the New Cold War: A Plan for Countering China. It’s introduced by Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, a think tank with over 500,000 members and a budget of nearly $100 million a year. It’s rated to be the most influential conservative think tank in America.

“Know Thy Enemy”

Some of the more avid readers of our report, Winning the New Cold War, may well be in Beijing. Studying the enemy is a hallmark of Chinese strategy and statecraft. Sun Tzu’s Art of War pointed out the importance of knowing the strategy of the enemy and to take the offensive.

A clear example happened about 10 years ago. An American, who had access to top-secret defense planning, fell in love with a beautiful Chinese girl. After he was caught passing on classified information, Benjamin Bishop, a civilian defense contractor, was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Bishop was a lonely, middle-aged divorced man. According to the FBI affidavit, he went to a conference at the Hilton Waikiki and met a beautiful Chinese woman, a student who introduced herself as “Miss Lee.” They fell in love. He asked her, “How can I help you with your master’s degree?” She said, “I’m working on American military strategy towards China, but there’s no materials I can use. I’m not going to get my degree unless you help me.” He was working in the war plans division of the Pacific Command in Camp Smith and had access to many of America’s top-secret plans on how to fight a war against China.

Do you think the Chinese were working on how to identify the strategy of the United States? They knew exactly where somebody might be working on such documents. They found a way in. The FBI searched for “Miss Lee,” who told Bishop she was working on her graduate degree in Washington, DC. “Miss Lee” was never found.

The New Cold War

Chinese authors—and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping—claim America today has adopted a “Cold War Mentality” regarding the Chinese Communist Party. Xi frequently warns this Cold War strategy is what the Americans used to overthrow the Soviet Communist Party. With the release of the Heritage Foundation’s Winning the New Cold War, the CCP now has something to attack: a set of recommendations to win the New Cold War.

To be successful, this plan will require a whole-of-nation strategy. The U.S. government must educate the American public and business community, from Main Street to Wall Street, about the scope of the threat from the CCP.

Where Xi Jinping gets it wrong is that Heritage does not propose copying the Cold War ideas of American diplomat George Kennan’s X Article (1947) or U.S. Department of State Paul Nitze’s NSC 68 (1950) on the need to counter the expansion of Soviet communism.    

Winning the New Cold War will not come easy for Washington. The U.S. government’s weak response to the China challenge is deeply ingrained after many years. One set of excellent new steps came when then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (2018-2021) invited other cabinet secretaries to join him in making detailed speeches about China’s misconduct and violation of international norms. Pompeo closed China’s consulate in Houston and wrote universities to caution them against Confucius institutes, organizations affiliated with the Chinese government with the stated aim to promote Chinese language and culture. He required Chinese media in the U.S. to register as part of the Chinese government. He infuriated the CCP with his call for diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and his repeated stating that the CCP does not represent the Chinese people.

In The Hundred-Year Marathon, I state that Beijing is serious, cautious and risk averse. China has a 3,000-year history of rising powers that toppled the old hegemon to create a new global dynasty. Xi Jinping often quotes ancient authors like Chinese philosopher Han Fei Zi to illustrate how the greatest dynasties were established by creating complacency and confusion in the minds of their adversaries.

China’s friends in the U.S. claim there is no threat, that China is weak and may collapse soon, and that we must be calm about the new global order China plans to create. They will deny China has any ambitions to replace America. According to books written by eyewitnesses like John Bolton, Jared Kushner and Peter Navarro, when Xi Jinping sat down with Donald Trump to enjoy a steak dinner at the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires in 2018, Xi said China’s strategy was not a “Hundred-Year Marathon.” China, he said, had no plan to replace America as the global leader. Trump invited me to the Oval Office where, among many other issues, he said, “Xi Jinping doesn’t like your book!”

American strategy must never be based on an adversary’s assurances. In the years ahead, China may seek to escalate tensions, which will require even more adjustments to U.S. strategy.

Most Americans today believe our China strategy failed because we widely assumed China to be our friend, perennially on the verge of political and free market reforms. Even Ronald Reagan, arguably America’s most anti-Communist president, famously said in 1984 that he had just visited “so-called Communist China.” While I was Reagan’s policy planning chief in the Pentagon, he directed us to sell weapons and share intelligence with China. We did.

Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, the respected conservative John Lehman, wrote proudly about his transfer of high-tech Mark 46 torpedoes for Chinese submarines. Chinese sources say one American Secretary of State even offered a nuclear umbrella to China.

Most Americans today still cling to this obsolete strategy of aiding China. How else can we explain the assumption of friendship that motivated American funding for “gain of function” research in that Wuhan virology laboratory?

It’s important to understand Chinese strategy. They are concerned how to manipulate our view of them. Several books deal with how to control and paralyze the opponent. One is called Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World (2020), by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg. The authors point to a kind of complacency about China, or a feeling that somehow China is a Confucian country and believes in heaven, honesty and sincerity. On the outside, China may appear to be Confucian, but on the inside, how it deals with its own people, there is ruthlessness, enforcing the law, and willingness to punish the people.

Chinese experts claim China has no strategy: “We are just trying to help the poor people of China rise up.” The Heritage report, Winning the New Cold War, describes China’s many crimes, including the treatment of the Uyghurs, other Turkic Muslims, Christians, stealing technology, and many issues, but also offers recommendations on what action to take. What’s happening in China should be a wake-up call. China’s secret strategy is to replace America as the global superpower. It represents the world’s greatest security challenge of the twenty-first century.

The idea of having an Elders Roundtable and the Think Tank 2022 Forum working together for peace is very much needed, especially in the case of China and Taiwan.

Thank you very much.

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