If as one of America’s foremost experts on China contends, Beijing has been playing on Western wishful thinking and willful blindness over several decades as part of a hundred-year plan to use U.S. support to ultimately surpass her and dominate the world by 2049, does America have the will and capability to counter China’s designs, and what can we do to turn the tide?
This is the question I posed during an in-depth interview with Michael Pillsbury, a crucial member of America’s diplomatic and national security establishment for over 40 years, who has specialized in China, helping American presidents devise China policy from Nixon to Reagan and Obama.
Pillsbury has sounded the alarm on China’s long-range strategy in a must-read new book titled “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower,” which former CIA Director James Woolsey has said indicates that the U.S. has “vital work to do, urgently.”
Here is what Pillsbury said:
Everybody tells me that I should be more pessimistic — that the “friends of China,” what I call the “cheerleaders for China” — are too strong, too well-entrenched, and they know that if someone like me comes along, they just have to demonize that person, or try to undercut their arguments. That’s why the book [“The Hundred-Year Marathon”] has 70 pages of footnotes. I’m trying to show the actual documents.
But I am slightly pessimistic I would say, that our country historically wakes up with a Pearl Harbor attack, or some kind of huge disaster takes place. Then in the past we’ve always had years to get ready: we could mobilize and we had the resilience that could withstand a strong first attack. The Chinese know this. They’ve actually told me this.
So their approach is long-term, slow, and not to seek confrontation or to provoke the rise of the “China Threat Theory.”
One of their greatest fears is that there will be a rise of a “China Threat Theory” group inside the United States, and so far they’ve been quite subtle in punishing their critics and nurturing and even rewarding their friends.
So I am a little bit pessimistic.
We asked Pillsbury to offer three measures America could take to help defend against Chinese efforts to surpass us. He continued:
…[T]here’s one set of reforms…that’s the most important…everybody kind of agrees that we should have tax reform, but what you end up with is 10 different plans, and an unwillingness of senators from both parties to cooperate and pass tax reform. [The inability to pass] tax reform (and there’s several other similar issues), that’s what slows our growth down. That’s why we have two point five percent growth, instead of seven or eight percent growth. In fact it’s considered wonderful — I heard Jeb Bush make a speech last week — he thinks it would be great if we could just get to four percent, which most people would say probably is impossible. So our own competitiveness is the area where we need to get results. And not just people making speeches about competitiveness, but actually having a formula that gets implemented. That’s the most important thing.
The second set of majors I recommend, is we’ve got to have an inventory of just how much we’re helping the Chinese, and what leverage we have with them. My fear is, our leverage is mostly gone. We’ve transferred about as much science and technology and export techniques; we’ve set up business schools in China where we teach them all of our precious techniques of venture capitalism. We’ve been pretty much squeezed by the Chinese for 30 years. So our leverage is declining. But anything we can do to find out what leverage we have left, I strongly advocate.
The third area is our own understanding of Chinese strategy. That’s why I wrote this book. That’s why I try to focus on the hundred-year marathon. We’ve got to understand and give them credit, even admiration, for just how well they have played our system. That in many ways is the hardest: just to recognize the problem of Chinese competitiveness, before it’s too late.
During the interview, Pillsbury and I also had a chance to discuss several other topics including:
- Why the conventional wisdom on China in diplomatic and national security circles has been wrong for decades and how Pillsbury — himself a member of the establishment — came to realize it
- How China takes advantage of America’s wishful thinking
- Why China is a more powerful rival than Russia
- The devastating asymmetric threat China possesses through the “Assassin’s Mace”
- And much much more
Note: The link to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.