A speech by National Security advisor of United States Robert O'Brien on 25th June 2020 at Arizona
I appreciate the kind invitation to come and discuss an issue of critical importance to American national security with you Governor and with your colleagues here in Arizona. The challenge of the Chinese Communist Party and and the rise of the Chinese Communist Party and the threat that it poses to the United States and our allies is of critical importance to us right now. My remarks today are the first in a series of several speeches that will be given by senior administration officials over the coming month on this matter you'll soon hear from secretary Pompeo, from attorney general bar and from FBI director Chris Rea on the subject.
Where did we go wrong
America under president Trump's leadership is finally awoken to the threat of the Chinese Communist Party's actions and and the threat that they pose to our very way of life. Now for decades the conventional wisdom in both US political parties, the business community, academia and the media has held that it was only a matter of time before China would become more liberal, first economically and then politically, the more we opened our markets to China. The thinking went that the more we invested capital in China, the more we trained PRC bureaucrats, scientists, engineers and even military officers, more China would become like us. It was under this premise that we did welcome China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 with vast concessions and trade privileges. We downplayed China's gross human rights abuses including Tiananmen Square. We turned a blind eye to China's widespread technology theft that eviscerated entire sectors of the American economy. As China grew richer and stronger we believe that the Chinese Communist Party would liberalize and meet the rising Democratic aspirations of its people. Now this was a bold and quintessentially American idea. It was born of our innate optimism and by the experience of our triumph over Soviet Communism. Unfortunately it turned out to be very naive. We could not have been more wrong and this miscalculation was the greatest failure of American foreign policy since the 1930s.
How did we make such a mistake? how did we fail to understand the nature of the Chinese Communist Party? the answer is simple. it's because we did not pay heed to the CCP's ideology. Instead of listening to what CCP leaders were saying, instead of reading what they wrote in their key documents, we closed our eyes and our ears. We believed what we wanted to believe that these party members were communist in name only. Now let's be clear the Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist Leninist organization. The party general secretary Xi Jinping sees himself as Joseph Stalin's successor. In fact as the journalist and former Australia government official John Garneau has noted the Chinese Communist Party is the last ruling Communist Party that never split with Stalin with the partial exception of North Korea. Yes, Stalin the man whose brutal dictatorship and disastrous policies killed roughly 20 million Russians and others through a famine, forced collectivization, execution and labor camps.
Understand their ideology
Lenin-Stalin-Mao communism is a totalitarian ideology under communism. Individuals are merely a means to be used towards the achievement of the ends of collective nation-state. Thus individuals can be easily sacrificed for the nation-states goals. Individuals do not have inherent value under Marxism Leninism. They exist to serve the state. The state does not exist to serve them. Now these ideas sound remote and outdated to us as we speak. They're after all old ideas. They were born a century and a half ago in Europe. They were implemented a century ago in Russia and then they were discarded 30 years ago as the most costly failed political experiment in history but in China these ideas remain as fundamental to the Chinese Communist Party as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights do to us as Americans. The Chinese Communist Party seeks total control over the people's lives this means economic control, it means political control, it means physical control and perhaps most importantly it means thought control.
Controllling the thought
In classical Chinese statecraft there are two tools for gaining and maintaining control over the mountains and the rivers the first is weapons and violence and the second is language and culture. Chinese leaders have always believed that power derives from controlling both the physical battlefield and the cultural domain. For Lenin Stalin Mao and now XI words are not vehicles of reason and persuasion. They are bullets. Words are for defining, isolating and destroying opponents. Propaganda plays a central role for the CCP. Beijing's efforts to dominate political thought are stated openly and pursued aggressively. In 1989 the party began organizing itself around ideological security, a term repeated frequently since then by CCP leaders. More recently in April 2013 the party issued a policy on what they called the current state of ideology. It held that there should be absolutely no opportunity or outlets for incorrect thinking or viewpoints to spread. So within China this approach means mandatory study sessions of communist ideology and the required download and use of smartphone apps that teach the so-called XI Ping thought. It means complete control of all state media. Ban on outside sources of information from foreign newspapers to Twitter, Facebook and whatsapp. All content generated within China is censored. It means jailing everyone from citizen bloggers to reporters to lawyers to activists and religious believers expressing any views contrary to the party line and indeed just recently between January 1st and April 4th of this year, nearly 500 individuals were charged with crimes just for speaking out about the Wuhan coronavirus, its effects upon the party and the party's cover-up of the disease. The Chinese Communist Party re-interprets religious texts including the Bible to support Communist Party ideology. It locks up millions of Muslim leaders and other minorities in re-education camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination and forced labor while their children are raised in party run orphanages. This process annihilates the family, the religion, the culture and the language and the heritage of the people who are caught up in these camps. Under Chinese Communist Party the information is tightly controlled and expression is constantly surveilled so that it can be quashed or shaped by the state.
Why we should be concerned
Americans should be concerned. We should be concerned not just for the people of China but for ourselves because Xi's ambitions for ideological control are not limited to his own people. The CCP's stated goal is to create a community of common destiny for mankind and to remake the entire world according to the CCP. The effort to control thought beyond the borders of China is well underway over the past decade. The party has invested billions of dollars in overseas propaganda operations to great effect. The CCP is moved to eliminate unfriendly Chinese language media outlets worldwide and is close to succeeding. Nearly every Chinese language news outlet in the U.S. is either owned by or works closely with the party and it's making inroads into the english-language media as well. There are more than a dozen radio stations in cities across the country where Americans hear subtle propaganda -pro Beijing propaganda- on their FM radio. Recently Chinese propaganda persuaded so many Americans that a US soldier had brought the corona virus to Wuhan as opposed to Wuhan sending the virus to the rest of the world. A complete fabrication by the CCP that this soldier and her family needed a personal security detail to protect them from death threats and this situation occurred in Maryland.
On Tik-Tok, a Chinese owned social media platform with over 40 million American users, probably including a lot of of your kids and and younger colleagues, accounts criticizing the CCP and and Beijing's policies are routinely removed or deleted. last week Twitter announced the suspension of more than 23,000 CCP linked accounts for spreading propaganda on Hong Kong and Covid 19. The latest suspension was in addition to removal of more than 150,000 CCP accounts that were used to spread anti-american disinformation and to generate an illusion on Twitter of popular support for Beijing's policies in the United States and these are just the accounts that Twitter caught. How many others are out there that are still undetected?
Controlling media and commercial enterprises
In March the CCP expelled American journalists working for the New York Times The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post almost fully eliminating independent reporting from within China on the Wuhan virus. In addition to influencing what information American citizens receive regarding China the CCP is increasingly using its leverage to police American speech. When the University of California San Diego UCSD hosted the Dalai Lama its commencement speaker in 2017, Beijing banned China students from visiting UCSD on government funds. When the general manager of the Houston Rockets tweeted his support for the peaceful Hong Kong protesters the CCP announced that the team's games would not be covered in China, would not show up on Chinese TV and then used its economic power to pressure others in basketball including star players to criticize the tweet on behalf of Beijing under pressure from the CCP. Marriott American Delton United Airlines removed all references to Taiwan from their corporate websites. Mercedes-benz even apologized for posting an inspirational quote from the Dalai Lama on social media. Beijing has used its financial might and its market access to pressure Hollywood into self-censorship, incentivizing directors and actors and producers to avoid topics that might not make it past the country censors in China. For example the Japanese and Taiwanese flags were dropped from Tom Cruise's flight jacket in the upcoming Top Gun sequel maverick. MGM digitally changed the identity and identities and post-production of the invading military from China to North Korea in the Red Dawn remake.
The CCP is also seeking leverage over individual Americans. The party is collecting your most intimate data, your words, your actions, your purchases, your whereabouts, your health records, your social media posts, your texts and they are mapping your network of friends, family and acquaintances. The CCP accomplishes this goal in part by subsidizing hardware, software, telecommunications and even genetic companies. As a result corporations such as Huawei and ZTE undercut competitors on price and install their equipment around the globe at a loss. This actually has as a side effect of putting out of business American manufacturers of telecom hardware and has made it very difficult for Nokia and Ericsson. Why do they do this? because it's not telecom hardware or software profits that the CP is after. It's your data and they use backdoors built into their products in order to obtain that data.
They steal what they cannot buy
When the Chinese party cannot buy your data they steal it. In 2014 the CCP hacked anthem insurance collecting sensitive information on 80 million Americans. In 2015 the CCP hacked the Office of Personnel Management which holds the security clearance information for 20 million Americans who work for the federal government. In 2017 at hacked Equifax obtaining the names birthdates Social Security numbers and credit scores of 145 million Americans. In 2019 the CCP hacked Marriott gathering information on 383 million guests including their passport numbers and in 2016 a Chinese company even bought the dating app Grindr to harvest data including the HIV status of users before the US government forced a divestiture on national security grounds and these are just a few of the instances that we know about.
So how will the Chinese Communist Party use this data? In the same way it uses data within China's borders. To target, to flatter, to cajole, to influence, to coerce and even to blackmail individuals to do and say the things that serve the party's interest and this is micro targeting beyond any advertisers wildest dreams and China unlike advertisers will not be stopped by government regulations. The Chinese Communist Party simply wants to know everything about you just as it likes to know everything about almost every individual living in China. In addition to propaganda and influence operations the Chinese Communist Party uses trade to coerce compliance with its dictates.
When Australia called for an independent investigation of the coronavirus origins spread the Chinese Communist Party threatened to stop buying all Australian agricultural products and to prevent Chinese students and tourists from travelling to Australia. When Australia refused to relent Beijing put these threats into force, imposed an 80% tariff on Australian barley exports. International organizations are also part of China's plan. China leads leadership positions within many global bodies. China now heads 4 out of 15 UN specialized agencies. That's more than the US UK France and Russia, the other members of the permanent five of the Security Council combined. The PRC uses these leaders to force the international bodies to parrot Beijing's talking points and to install Chinese telecommunications equipment in their facilities. For example when Jiao who Lin of the international telecom telecommunications union took his post he began to aggressively promote Huawei sales. Secretary Fong lio of the International Sevilla Civil Aviation Organization has blocked Taiwan's participation in General Assembly meetings and covered up a Chinese hack of the organization. The party has used China's membership in the UN Human Rights Council to prevent criticism of its abuses in Jing Jiang and Hong Kong. The CCP's reach extends to heads of international organizations who are not themselves Chinese officials under Beijing's thumb and in an unacceptable cost to human life director-general Ted roast of the World Health Organization dutifully used Chinese talking points on the Wuhan virus. As late as mid-january he claimed that there was no human to human transmission of the disease. He opposed international travel restrictions and at the same time Ted Rose praised China's own domestic travel restrictions on Wuhan residents. In other words they could travel overseas but they couldn't travel and potentially take the virus to Beijing or Shanghai. These CCP tactics in international organizations as we've seen with the covetous are a major concern not just to the United States but to the world.
A timely wake up call
The good news is that under President Trump's leadership we know what the CCP is doing and we're calling it out. We're taking decisive action to counter it across the board. First, president Trump prevented certain companies that answer to the CCP's intelligence and security apparatus such as Chinese telecom a telecommunications giant Huawei from accessing our personal and private data. The administration also imposed restrictions on semiconductor technology from going to Huawei. Second, the State Department designated the US operations of nine Chinese state controlled propaganda outlets as foreign missions. These organizations are the mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party and this designation places reporting requirements and visa restrictions on these so-called media outlets. Third, President Trump imposed export restrictions on 21 chinese government entities and 16 Chinese companies complicit in Chinese in China's campaign of repression. Mass arbitrator meant mass arbitrary detention and high technology surveillance against the Ughur's and other minorities and we've blocked officials complicit in these abuses from traveling to the United States. The administration has also stopped the illegal import of goods produced by Chinese companies known to use Weger forced labor. Fourth, President Trump left the United Nations Human Rights Council to protect protesters co-optation by China. he's terminated the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization because its response to the pandemic showed that it is entirely beholden to China. Instead of funding the corrupt WHO in Geneva with over 400 million dollars per year the United States and our generous taxpayers will now send that money directly to where it is needed most, i.e. the frontline healthcare workers serving in developing countries around the world. Fifth, president Trump limited the People's Liberation Army's ability to use student visa programs to place its officers and employees in our colleges and universities to steel the U.S. technology, intellectual property and information. Sixth the president moved to halt the investment of US federal employee retirement funds into PRC companies including Chinese military contractors and manufacturers of surveillance equipment used to oppress religious minorities. He's examining the opaque accounting practices of Chinese companies that are still listed on the U.S. stock exchanges and this week the Defense Department is submitting to Congress a list of the People's Liberation Army linked companies with operations in the United States so that the American people are fully informed about exactly with whom they are doing business. now these steps are just the start as America corrects 40 years of a one-sided relationship that has severely affected our nation's economics and recently our political well-being. Just like the tariffs that were imposed by the president due to unfair Chinese trade practices there is more to come.
We will not bend but counteract
President Trump understands that lasting peace comes to strength. We are the strongest nation on earth and we will not bend to the CCP as the foregoing actions demonstrate. The Trump administration is countering CCP malign activity. The Trump administration will speak out and reveal what the Chinese Communist Party believes and what it is planning not just for China and Hong Kong and Taiwan but for the entire world. Together with our allies and partners we will resist the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to manipulate our people and our governments, damage our economies and undermine our sovereignty. The days of American passivity and naivete regarding the People's Republic of China are over. We will stay true to our principles especially freedom of speech which stand in stark contrast to the marxist-leninist ideology and embraced by the CCP. Under president Trump's leadership we will encourage diversity of thought, resist efforts to police speech or encourage self-censorship, protect Americans personal data and above all continue to proclaim that all women and men are entitled by right of God to Liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness.
Do not equate CCP with Chinese people
Now as I close let me make it clear we have deep respect and admiration for the Chinese people. The United States has a long history of friendship with the Chinese nation but the Chinese Communist Party does not equal China or her people. I say as the recent phase on trade deal is shown it is possible for our governments to have a productive relationship and we want good relationships with China but we do not want those relations on the terms that are currently on offer from Beijing. As Americans I'm certain that we will rise to successfully meet the challenge presented by the CCP just as we have responded to all the great crises over our history. President Trump is leading the way and like President Trump I believe that our best days as a country remain ahead of us. Again thank you for joining me here today. It's a privilege to be here and in phoenix arizona may God bless you may God bless america and thank you again very much for your time thank you [Applause]