US-China Policy in the Age of Trump

Date: 13:00—14:00, 20th September 2017

Location: Millbank Tower, 21—24 Millbank London, SW1P 4QP

Speaker: Michael Pillsbury

Chair: James Rogers

James Rogers

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming to this Henry Jackson Society lunchtime event. Today it is my great honour to welcome and introduce you to Dr Michael Pillsbury, who comes from the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. There, he is the Senior Fellow and Director of Chinese Strategy. He has held a number of roles in the US government, including the Assistant Undersecretary of State for Defence and Policy Planning in the Reagan administration. His areas of expertise are the Indo-Pacific region, as well as US Defence Strategy and broader foreign policy. He is the author of this book, which he is going to talk about at some length; this book has been endorsed by the former Head of the Central Intelligence Agency and, as well, by the prominent US academic Robert Kagan. So, without further ado, I will hand over to him for twenty minutes or so, and he will talk to you about US-China policy in the age of Donald Trump. Thank you.

Michael Pillsbury

And you are going to save time for questions, or…?

James Rogers

Yes, and then there will be twenty or thirty minutes for questions. We have to finish, actually, at two o’clock sharp; he has to go to a meeting at the Foreign Office. Thank you.

Michael Pillsbury

My proposal is brought seven copies of my book – the hardcover version – so I thought the best seven questions [laughter] or questioners will each receive a book; and we can jointly decide who are the best seven questioners. But they have to be challenging questions; they can’t be, you know, “Why did you write this book?” [laughter] or, “Gee, it’s so wonderful – can I have lunch with you?” No, those don’t count. There has to be some sort of fundamental challenge to the author, like, “How could you be so stupid?” Then, you get a free book. Ok, don’t worry if you’re just arriving now, you’ve missed nothing [laughter]

I thought I would read a little bit from this book, and also tell you what’s in it overall. We have four broad schools of thought in America about China, and China has (pretty much) the symmetrical equivalent of these four schools of thought in Beijing. If you make a grid, like this, and on the left and right, you place “Collapse versus Grow Stronger” as one axis, Americans divide up among how much stronger China will be or how soon will be the collapse. The winner on the “Collapse” side is a bestseller from RandomHouse, Gordon Chang, whose book is The Coming Collapse of China, in which he forecasts the year: China would collapse, in his book, he said, in twelve years, and that year was 2012. Then he revised his view that it was going to be 2015. During that period, unfortunately for Gordon, China’s GDP tripled. But he sticks to his guns; the factors that he – and he has many supporters, people who see China the same way – the collapse is still ahead, and the fall back now is, “Well, if not a collapse, at least a slowdown.” Certainly not 10 percent for annual growth for thirty years, certainly not even six, not even three. And, somehow 3 percent growth, which America would love to have – for the China collapse theory, this is considered close to collapse (so they’ll be vindicated if China slows to 3 percent. This school of thought is very serious; I don’t ridicule them. Generally speaking, the Financial Times goes along with it. You’ll know when you hear this school of thought; you’ll hear some of the words that they will use. “China’s credit is two hundred percent or three hundred percent of GDP, and they’ll never get out of this credit burden.” Or, sometimes, they will focus on natural resources. “The water table in Beijing – they are all going to have no water to drink in five or ten years. Or the per capita grain per acre is going down, so they’re going to starve. They’re going to have no water, they’ll starve, they will have massive unemployment – which of course will bring down the regime – pollution is terrible (can’t breathe when you’re in Beijing); so all the Chinese, if they don’t starve to death, or riot to death, will choke to death.” This school is very vivid, and in my country you find it a lot on television. Every time something different from that happens – some sort of military move, let’s say, putting some service-to-air missiles on a South China Sea island – this is drowned out by the counter-narrative: “No, this is the wheezing of a collapsing giant.” This part of the axis is extremely important for our media and our politicians to understand.

The other side, the Chinese side, is going to keep on growing – let’s say – twice as fast as America. In other words, give the Americans their three percent, their dream growth rate; give China only six percent. The rate is still double. So the long-term trend will be: Around 2030, Chinese GDP will be double American GDP. So it isn’t just the moment when the Americans say, “Oh my god, we’ve been surpassed.” There will be another moment when the Chinese economy is double the American economy. And some bold economists in China have extended this rate – six percent for China, three percent for America; there comes a point when the Chinese economy becomes triple the American economy. And history doesn’t stop; it just continues.

So this economic growth rate is something very fundamental that Karl Marx was the first to write about: That the causes of war, or friction in the capitalist system, was the differential in economic growth rates. But, as I say, the spectrum is broad. I am more on the “growth rate, six percent” side; I have allies in that point of view, even if they claim I steal their ideas. One is the World Bank; the other is the IMF. So I have significant allies in my views, but they cannot break through the “China collapse” theory; in fact, sometimes their reports have been objected to by the Chinese government. The IMF wanted to publish a study two years ago that the Chinese economy had already surpassed the American economy, and the Chinese delegation officially objected. The reason for that is one of the topics in my book: The Chinese are quite embarrassed geopolitically by their success; they prefer shyness, and not to boast – the polar opposite, you might say, of Mr Trump. “Make America Great Again,” the Chinese say, “No, it will take another hundred years.” So they recently published a translation of The Hundred-Year Marathon in Chinese – beautiful translation, perfect. One footnoted at the very back, I think, thirty-five Chinese generals and admirals and intelligence officers for helping with the book. I turn to that acknowledgement section: all there. I turn to some of the more sensitive sections; I am going to read to you today about CIA cooperation with Chinese intelligence: all there. But, up at the front, the book said, “Internal use only.” You can buy it freely and openly, if you are a member of the party, or a military officer. But if you’re just a peasant, no – you cannot buy The Hundred Year-Marathon. Now why? Because chapter three has a long story, that one of the most fundamental beliefs about China in the West is not true. One thing every American knows about China, if they know anything about China, is that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon opened China. They brilliantly had a scheme of five poles in the world that would replace the Soviet-American antagonism. So they needed to bring China in to be the third pole, to be joined later by the other four and five; to do this, they worked very hard – it’s in their memoirs. China was so “closed” and so “stupid” and so “turned inward” and so busy with the Cultural Revolution that it took Nixon and his faithful assistant Kissinger to open the door and bring China out. And to do this, of course, they had to offer China a great deal of incentives to open up – which they did; followed by Jimmy Carter, more incentives, more opening; followed by Ronald Reagan; more incentives, more opening. That’s the story. Unfortunately, when you look into the Chinese archives – some bits of it have been released, and in the Nixon library, where it’s been released quite a long time – you find the story is not true. And in Dr Kissinger’s new book on China, he changes the story, but almost no one pays any attention. In his new book On China, which came out about four years ago, he says, “Well, yes, we opened China; but, we now know there was a parallel effort inside China to open America. And actually, they reached out first. They reached out five times; and each time, we refused.” So I go a little further than his book, I say, “Actually, it’s not parallel at all. The Chinese are much earlier; they start opening to America in March of 1969, and yes, Dr Kissinger is right, we do turn them down five times over the next two years.” Chinese diplomats knock on doors in Oslo, in Kabul; letters are sent; Mao invites to the Tiananmen Square parade a man who he thinks is a CIA agent – his name was Edgar Snow. American, supposedly CIA, standing next to Mao, reviews a parade. 1 October 1970; they have a conversation: Mao says to Snow, we learn later, “I want Nixon to come to China. I don’t care if it’s a tourist or president; I want Nixon to come to China.” By the way, this is more than a year since their first efforts, which we have turned down. Edgar Snow, turns out, is not a CIA agent; he hates the CIA, he hates America. He’s living in exile in Switzerland. In the NSC declassified records, there’s a memo from an NSC expert named Alan Whiting (who’s written four or five books on China); it’s to Kissinger: “It’s possible Mao could have said something to Edgar Snow at the recent parade where we saw the photo. I would like a ticket to fly to Switzerland to debrief him and see what Mao said.” There’s two boxes: “Approve,” and “Disapprove.” And in Dr Kissinger’s own handwriting, you’d never guess: Which box does he check? October 1970 – he checks “Disapprove.” So I recount this story in some detail; I received a letter from Dr Kissinger, my former employer: He did not appreciate my not sharing my materials with him before I published them, and so he decline to put a blurb on the back cover. And he asked me – and I agreed – for my next book, where I have even more of these materials, I am in fact going to do the courtesy of showing him in advance, and try to get a blurb on the back cover, because there are even more materials that are not in the first book.

The other axis – remember I mentioned the “Collapse” axis and the “Super strong three times American GDP by 2049” axis – there’s another axis in America. It’s what I call the “Cooperation from the top and the hostility on the bottom.” And, therefore, in the grid, where I am – I am bullish on the Chinese economy and very high on cooperation with China. I propose, and many others do too, cooperation outweighs competition with the Chinese. This box up here: “Cooperate with a strong China.” At the extreme, this is called the “G2” position; it was first proposed by Professor B, my old professor at Columbia. “G2” means, “we don’t need to worry about G7 or G20, or, frankly, NATO.” We and China – the Americans in China – can and should, basically, run the world. Now, to me, this is a bit too much, and the Chinese have very – in a very shy manner – wrote a number of articles criticizing “G2.” They said, “No, China is not qualified to be ‘G2,’ and also China represents the developing world, so it would be inappropriate for them to be like that with the hegemon.” They also – there are a number of articles which I really enjoyed – saying, “China is not qualified yet to be ‘G2’ because we are so weak.” They have a kind of “James Rogers group” in China that measures comprehensive national power, and they would pretty much agree with your charge here. They wouldn’t put Great Britain so big or so high; but they would put China, at best, at only half of the US. So, too early for “G2.” Why? Because if H and L and I and the World Bank and the IMF are right, in fifteen or twenty years, it will just be “G1,” and America will be number two. I don’t know if anybody here is from China, but there’s a wonderful bestseller in China now called Being Number Two, and its advice is about how to follow behind the Americans; but, squeeze from them and be differential to them while you slowly surpass them. This is a kind of plagiarism of The Hundred-Year Marathon, because this is what I say is Chinese strategy now.

So: Cooperate with a strong China, solve as many problems together as we can; let’s look at the other three boxes. The box that says “Collapse” or “Weak, but still cooperate” – that’s a big box; that’s where my friend David C is. He writes a lot of articles about the collapse that’s coming: Political collapse of the Communist Party, as well as the economy. But, in the meantime, what a wonderful country to cooperate with: One that definitely cannot challenge us – we should help China, perhaps soften, or have a soft landing, for the collapse. The bottom box is the “China is super hostile, wants a war, and is collapsing” – that’s Gordon Chang, Arthur W, there’s quite a strong school in there. So that school says, “Don’t cooperate with China, don’t have military exchange programmes to reduce misperceptions.” And then the box, quite interesting too, is the “Getting bold, getting strong economically, but hostile.” So, that group is the most worried of the four groups because it sees what it calls the “deep state” or the “establishment” – people like me – it sees us pursuing this cooperative road, but to our own disaster and catastrophe, as long as we continue all the aid programmes (all the ways that America helps China grow even today). This school is feeling particularly left out and angry because the essence of this book – as I claim, I used to be a panda-hugger; I used to love China in every way; but now, I am more wary about China. So the criticism of this book, from that box, the “hostile/strong” box, is, “Pillsbury is still a panda-hugger; he has not made a full confession of his past sins.” The only thing that is in the book that I am not going to read to you is interviews with six high-level Chinese defectors, and what they say Chinese strategy is. One of the most fascinating – all of the defectors have false names; there is a description in here [I’m under some pressure to read this description sometimes]: “Author’s Note: The CIA, the FBI, the Office of the Secretary of Defence and another agency of the Defence Department reviewed this book prior to publication, to ensure there was no disclosure of classified information. I appreciate the work of these reviewers to remove any sensitive operational details that might jeopardize methods used in the field.”

So the book’s been cut, but I still advocate people reading it; I give false names to the six defectors. One of the defectors I call “Miss Li,” who came out and had an amazing story which could be verified. She said, “All high-level Communist party officials come to something in Beijing called ‘The Party School.’” It’s not the American-English party school where you drink and party; it’s the Communist Party Central Committee School; and, at this school, I asked to visit, Miss Li said, “There are courses on how to compete, and they use a number of textbooks that American professors study on how America became number one – in large part, by screwing the British and Germans.” [laughter] I didn’t believe this: “No, that’s not how we became number one. We became number one because we are the smartest and the best, and God blesses us.” No. Miss Li was quite accurate; there are a number of these books (I cite them in the footnotes), and the Americans of the 1860s to 1890s were quite predatory and bad. They stole patents; even the Pillsbury Company stole the way to make flour using stainless steel rollers, by spying with a false name, on how the Hungarians were using these stainless steel rollers – it’s one of many, many stories, from these books. Miss Li’s point is, “The Party officials are being taught predatory, mercantilist techniques.” She is quite accurate; I went into the Communist Party Central Committee School bookstore. I said, “Do you have any of these books?” Yes, of course they did! One is by Alfred X of MIT, in Chinese translation. There is nothing wrong with this; it’s actually very flattering. But the “American becoming the great hegemon” story of roughly the fifty-sixty year period, from after our Civil War until World War One – the Chinese see this as a kind of model strategy for what they can do. Of course, it would take the British permitting it to happen, and there is quite a debate in London in this time; there was an anti-American faction and a pro-American faction: This has been written about by the Chinese. There is one wonderful, long, highly accurate article about how the Americans surpassed the British, and the political tactics they used to suppress the anti-American faction in London. Again, I didn’t believe this; I am actually originally British, from 1640 – so surely we couldn’t have done such things? Nor could the British have considered crushing us. But the book is there, and it is partly a translation by a professor at – I forget the name of the university, maybe Cambridge: It is a book called The Eclipse of Britain.

Ok, so that is the basic outline: Do I have time to read one page? How is our time?

James Rogers

Yes, I think we have some time.

Michael Pillsbury

By the way, I would say that all four of these schools are represented inside President Trump’s advisory team. It is not as though one school has succeeded in demonizing all the others; they all, sort of, exist. I am going to read to you a page – I think it is page seventy-seven – because chapter three, the one I mentioned about “China opened up America; America didn’t open up China,” has some new material about the CIA cooperation with China. It starts out with cooperation in Cambodia to expel the Vietnamese. It says, “Many countries were involved, including China; these countries agencies provided weapons to arm the non-Communist to Cambodian resistance; to persuade the Vietnamese to go home; it ultimately succeeded; the dollar amount is given.” And then it says, “This was the foundation for the next big Chinese-American cooperation.” The book is highlighting Chinese-American cooperation. Senior American officials – very senior American officials; ex-presidents – all know about this, but most do not. President Reagan provides National Security Decision 140 to help China a great deal; only fifteen copies were produced; and the Americans end up going to China to purchase more than two billion dollars of Chinese weapons to be transferred to Afghan rebels. Then, President Reagan agrees to sell China more than five-hundred million dollars of American weapons for China. And I say, “If the assertion is accurate, two billion was spent on Chinese weapons for the anti-Soviet rebel groups, then China’s purchase of more than five-hundred million in American weapons seems relatively small.” The Chinese not only sold the weapons to give us to the Afghan rebels, but also advised us on how to conduct these covert operations. By the way – these discussions are not taking place with NATO, with Great Britain, with Japan, with Pakistan: No. It is a US-China project. From their advice to us emerged a few lessons about Chinese strategy for a declining hegemon (in this case, the Soviet Union). First, the Chinese emphasised, “We have to identify key Soviet vulnerabilities to exploit.” One tactic, they explained, was to raise the cost of empire. When I and others first proposed the option of supplying stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the Afghan and Angolan rebels – Angola was in on this same project – the Chinese were delighted at the high cost these weapons would impose. The second idea was to persuade others to do the fighting. The third concept was to attack the allies of the declining hegemon: The Cambodians worked against the Soviet Vietnamese puppets; the Angolan rebels expelled the Cubans flown by Soviet aircraft. I asked the Chinese whether they thought it would be excessively provocative to take two additional steps: “Should we supply and encourage Afghan rebels to conduct commando sabotage raids inside the Soviet Union, not inside Afghanistan?” This had never been done during the Cold War – that was question number one. Question number two: “Should we agree to the request from the Afghans for long-range sniper rifles, night-vision goggles, and maps with the locations of high-ranking Soviet officials serving in Afghanistan?” This would amount to a targeted assassination programme. My colleagues back in Washington had been certain that the Chinese would draw the line at such actions; but, even I was taken aback by the ruthlessness of
Beijing’s ambition to bring down the Soviets when they answered, “Yes,” to both questions.

I hope I have intrigued you to read the book. There are many, many stories in here that were unknown before; I think that’s why it became a number one bestseller in the United States, and has now been translated into: Japanese, where it became a number two bestseller; Korean; comes out in Hindi very soon; and several other languages. I went into your best bookstore here yesterday to ask if there’s a copy. He said no; I showed him this – he said he would order it; so there may be some suppression going on in London [laughter]. I hope that is enough to give you an idea of what is in the book, and now we’re going to see who wins the prize of seven free books.

James Rogers

Yes, thank you. Let’s have the seven prize winners, then. Let’s start with you, sir.

Question One

My name is John Wilkin [here in a private capacity]. In light of what you said about cooperation between the United States and China over Afghanistan, what do you think the possibility of anything similar happening regarding the North Korean regime is?

Michael Pillsbury

It’s quite possible, I have advocated – and I was happy to see the Wall Street Journal run it yesterday – that the solution to North Korea is, in fact, increased US-China cooperation. Now this embarrasses the Chinese; I believe I’m correct that China’s ambassador to Great Britain published an article last week, which is the Chinese formal position at the UN and elsewhere, that North Korea is really a problem between the US and North Korea, and China is really not a part of this dispute: China wants denuclearisation and everybody to be happy. Diplomatic dialogue is the Chinese formula. But if The Hundred-Year Marathon is correct, then that is only China’s public position – and, for the right reasons, they might cooperate with the United States secretly. Now, this scares many countries because they don’t like the idea of a “G2,” where China and American determine the outcome of things secretly. We have the alliance with Japan, an alliance with South Korea; we certainly respect Theresa May’s new seventeen points in the UK-Japan security cooperation declaration of just two weeks. In theory, if America were multilaterally inclined, it certainly would not work out some secret deal with China to solve North Korea. But, if we do not work with the Chinese secretly, the other big option is the military option, of which most countries are scared to death (even the tiniest military option, supposedly, would cause World War Three). So, you see why I advocate cooperation with China, but necessarily in public. That is a possible winner [laughter].

James Rogers

Yes, the gentleman at the back.

Question Two

Following on from that question: Where does President Trump fit into your vision, in general, of US-China relations?

Michael Pillsbury

Well, President Trump has had quite a bit to say about China since the campaign; during the campaign, his most frequent phrase (I think, counted at fifteen times) is, “China is raping our country.” This would not bet translated accurately in the Chinese press. They decided that the word “rape” was too vivid and offensive, so they used the phrase “kidnapping our economy.” That seems to have all changed, and President Trump’s many tweets and public statements are that: he likes President Xi Jinping; they have bonded; they have chemistry; he looks forward to his trip in November; a general attitude of praise for China; and then, this one small hook that, “China is responsible for solving the North Korean problem,” which, of course (as we know) China denies it has this capacity. So then, President Trump has had a number of tweets that he is “disappointed” with his “friend” President Xi. If you are Chinese, you are somewhat confused by President Trump’s public messaging. Of course, whether there are private dealings between President Trump and President Xi, we do not know; and, if The Hundred-Year Marathon is correct, then it would mean that the public messaging is not really quite as important: If there are any backchannel discussion, they would be much important to know what the outcomes would be. Everyone in the world knows about Chinese trade with North Korea, and the pipelines, and the banks – this shadowy funding that seems to go on of various North Korean programmes. So, all this is very delicious, and I hope John le Carré – in his next book – will turn back to China and North Korea, to tell us what is really going on. So there is another possible candidate.

James Rogers

Yes, the gentleman at the back, near the aisle.

Question Three

If you were President Trump, how would you measure the worth of Peter Navarro?

Michael Pillsbury

I happen to know Peter Navarro very well, and he has met in person with President Trump many times. Peter worked with him during the campaign; sometimes Peter was on the campaign plane. He has an office on the first floor of the executive office building. He is a kind of demon figure for our economy; there are many economists in America who have published articles, including the Economist magazine here, that had a very wonderful column about Peter Navarro, calling him [I don’t remember the phrase, something like] “the most powerful economist in America.” The general thrust of all these articles is that Peter Navarro is very stupid and doesn’t understand anything about economics, and has beliefs that are widely disproved by all other economists in the world: One belief is that the bilateral trade imbalance affects economic growth; now, economists are supposed to know that’s not true – bilateral trade imbalances do not bring down economic growth, they have nothing to do with it (it is the multilateral picture, etc.). There are a number of these theories. The only thing is, Peter Navarro has a Ph.D. (in economics, by the way) from Harvard, and he has tenure teaching Economics and Business at the University of California. So, it hardly seems accurate to demonise him as “stupid and crazy,” and it turn out there are economists who go further: “Yes, a really bad trade imbalance could have some effect on GDP growth.” So, Peter Navarro would say, “Aha! We are just bickering over the amount.” But, you will be happy to know that, if you don’t like Peter Navarro’s views, there are many people in the White House who don’t agree with him. There are many leaks in our papers about “this faction” versus “Navarro’s faction,” and if you want to scare yourself (if you are Chinese) you read our US trade representative’s speech two days ago: A long speech really demonising China; calling China a “predator state,” saying the World Trade System and the WTO are inadequate to punish the Chinese about what they’re doing; and this gentleman has a cabinet post in charge of trade. So, it looks like Navarro has at least one ally at the very top – and perhaps President Trump is another one. This is heavily covered in our country; Navarro is the “Satanic figure.”

James Rogers

The gentleman, there.

Question Four

I want to take it away from China; do you see any possibility of potential for the US and Russia to work similarly together on other issues, such as the Middle East, for example?

Michael Pillsbury

Not today’s topic. You might get a free book for asking a question out of bounds for today’s topic; this is about China. In those days, Russia was the bad hegemon. She was like the “Peter Navarro” that had to be brought down. Now, Russia is a very different category.

James Rogers

If we can take two questions at a time, please. Yes, and let’s keep it short; we only have a bit of time left.

Question Five

Your comment of wanting to “punish China” for being so successful – they cannot punish the Chinese work ethic, and I am continually surprised by how hard they work. Based on my limited knowledge of China, getting to know them, layer upon layer upon layer: They hate Japan; and therefore, they cannot understand American pairing up with Japan, which is (in their view) an untrustworthy and unreliable and brutally cruel nation. So, there is a major conflict there, of which I would be keen to hear your view.

Michael Pillsbury

Thank you. There’s some evidence that the Chinese know how to rank Americans, according to their love of Japan, or their distrust of Japan. And here, Dr Henry Kissinger ranks very high because he frequently would fly over Japan to Beijing; he advocates American presidents should make trips to Asia and go to Beijing (not try to do both Tokyo and Beijing). Somewhat less highly ranked was Secretary of State George Schulz, who actually made speeches saying “Japan was more important to America than China [and this was in the Eighties, when he was secretary of state]. This hurts the feelings of the Chinese people. And then there are other Americans who are even more pro-Japan, and anti-China. The question you are raising, then, is a great concern in China: How could the Americans pretend to be our friends if they are so deeply in bed with our natural enemies? So, good American diplomacy is to explain this; and the way we usually explain this is: “democracy is a value we Americans have; Japan seems to have democracy, for whatever reason; so, of course, we are closer to Japan. So when China has a multiparty system and national elections, not the kind of phoney democracy now…”

James Rogers

Ok, yes: Can we have this gentleman, and then you, please?

Question Six

If we look at North Korea, it’s been a problem for the world for the last sixty to seventy years. If, today, the US “took out” North Korea, what would be the consequences, do you think?

James Rogers

Can I ask this gentleman now, too, please, to give his question?

Question Seven

Why does the story you are telling about the “opening of the United States” matter?

Michael Pillsbury

On “taking out” North Korea, as the president said yesterday in his speech to the United Nations: Everybody in the Trump administration I know, including the president, wants diplomacy and dialogue as a first resort. The thrust of yesterday’s speech was that President Trump asked the whole world to help with North Korea, not just leave it a North-Korean-American problem: That’s his appeal. The thrust of his argument is if no one helps us with North Korea (number one), and if they initiate a military attack themselves [American spokesmen have all been saying this the last few months], then the punishment will be extreme – and different spokesmen have different words for what they class “extreme.” This kind of language has been used by President Obama, President Clinton, President George W. Bush; it is absolutely nothing new. But it gives the enemies of President Trump a wonderful opportunity to pretend that it’s new; President Clinton’s phrase, I think, was to “destroy the regime.” So, these comments represent one hundred percent continuity with American policy going almost back twenty-five years. In fact, there’s a recent op-ed article by Ash Carter which revealed to the American public that President Clinton went all the way to a war plan and preparations to attack North Korea. Military promises to harm North Korea severely is nothing new. What is new is President Trump’s outreach at the UN – and especially with Japan, South Korea, and China – to seek some sort of additional pressure on North Korea. Secretary Tillerson went on to tell the press, about a month ago, that he thought “of all the total economic sanctions placed upon North Korea, there is about seventy percent more to go.” That surprised a lot of people. Many thought, over the last ten years, that there had been enormous economic sanctions; he [Tillerson] is saying “no, it’s not true. There is a great deal more to go.” North Korean importance stems from a new global norm – since nuclear weapons were first created – in which the great powers had previously prevented other powers from obtaining nuclear weapons. This is a pretty powerful new norm; it has already been violated by India, Pakistan, and others – but that norm is still in place, and that is what gives North Korea its importance: It is flagrantly developing nuclear weapons, and talking about them in fairly reckless terms.

Now, as to your question “Why does 1969 to ’72 matter?” The book argues: “If America opened up China, then it was a good thing to help China so much; they are a poor, backward, stupid, closed, isolated country, then American views of world order would be wanting China to join the happy family of nations.” So, giving them technology, trade breaks, opening up foreign direct investment … the list of what America did to help China over the last forty years is really enormous. That would all make sense if we were converting China to a friend, a democracy, and a prosperous power, because they would be otherwise closed, right: isolationist. But if America was the passive figure, and China opened America, then all this support (with the notion that China was going to liberalise someday — be a liberal democracy, and our best friend at the UN and elsewhere) — then that assumption was wrong, and we’ve been “had.” China is not going to get rid of the Communist party; it’s not going to become a multi-party democracy; it’s not going to be our best friend in the UN Security Council: All of that aid and assistance to China was mistaken and naïve. That’s the importance of getting the story right, in 1969 to ’72. Most Americans still believe we have a burden to help China, because they have the old story. But as long as we are stuck with the same narrative, it means American support and assistance to China is really necessary still today; we should be selling weapons to China. We should be encouraging the European Union to lift the arms embargo; China would love to buy billions of dollars of defence technology and weapons from the European Union, and from America.

James Rogers

Ok, so, thank you very much for attending this lunchtime event, and thank you very much, Dr Pillsbury, for speaking to us. Have a nice afternoon, thank you [applause].


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