This past Tuesday, FBI Director Wray warned that China posed the “greatest threat” to the U.S., adding that over half of the bureau’s 5,000 counterintelligence cases were linked to China.
But the Director’s warning isn’t just out of the blue. Gordon Chang joined The Cats Roundtable to navigate where the U.S.-China relationship currently stands, and why Wray’s words need to be matched with action.
After being curtailed by the pandemic, Wray’s Tuesday announcement rehashed a decades-long debate over the U.S.-China relationship, including China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property. Chang told The Cats Roundtable that the theft was a “grievous loss” and “an attack on the American future.”
“Without technology leading, we’re not going to have an economy of the future,” Chang said.
But, Chang admitted that China’s theft is only half the problem.
“Part of the problem, though, is not China being a thief, it is the United States not defending our networks,” he explained, adding that the U.S. needs to take steps to counteract China’s aggression.
Some measures include the closing of Chinese consulates when activities are “inconsistent with” their diplomatic status, and the denying of visas to students who fail to disclose they are a member of China’s armed forces, something Chang praised as a “good step” taken by the President.
The FBI’s warning also emerged as India issued a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including the popular app TikTok, following clashes with China in a disputed border region that killed 20 Indian soldiers. Chang said that this was sure to hurt China, and that the United States should take India as a bellwether for our own response.
“It’s an example of what we should be doing in our country,” he said. “TikTok operates here—it’s owned by China, it has been surveilling American phone users, and what we need to do is ban Chinese apps.”
The coronavirus has both harmed and benefited Beijing. With most of the world blinded by the virus, China has absorbed Hong Kong with a national security law, following months of pro-Democratic protests. While Chang believes this will stifle pro-Democratic forces for the time being, he expects discontent to return.
“We can expect them to regroup and strike back,” he said.
But even as events in Hong Kong unfold, Chang noted that medical experts and intelligence agencies around the world are increasingly coming forward to say Beijing suppressed information about the scope of the virus in December and January, when the response was most important.
“China took steps to spread the coronavirus beyond its borders,” Chang said.
Chang also noted the often marginalized subject of China’s involvement in the U.S. opioid crisis, with Chinese suppliers of synthetic fentanyl shipped to the U.S. and to Mexico.
“It’s just one thing after another,” Chang said.
Because the troubles that face the U.S. over China are manifold, Chang believes China will be a priority for the president in 2021.
“China is the most important thing that the next President of the United States is going to do,” he said, but added that Democratic nominee Joe Biden needs to “answer” to his son’s involvement with Chinese investments.
Chang told The Cats Roundtable that the current pandemic has proven again that the U.S. will have to “decouple our economy” from China, and that the coronavirus has accelerated the argument.
“We need to insulate ourselves to reduce our vulnerability,” he noted, which included cutting trade, investment, and technical cooperation, and reducing diplomatic ties. He said that drastic steps were necessary after “nothing else has worked.”
“We have to do this if we’re going to remain a sovereign state, because China intends to attack us and take us down, and we have no choice but to defend ourselves. The measures we’re going to take to defend ourselves are going to be drastic.”
Listen to the interview below