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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders to discuss the Chinese Communist Party’s manipulation of U.S. markets, influence over American media, military-civil fusion strategy, and more. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here.
On the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) plans for economic and technological dominance:
“…[T]here are all sorts of technologies and industries that are going to be critical for the direction of the 21st century. They’re developing very fast, whether it’s quantum computing or artificial intelligence or 5G…. And we are in a competition. Whichever nation or nations have the high ground on it and are dominant in those fields are going to benefit from it geopolitically, militarily…, economically, commercially, industrially. Across the board. And so America needs to be very competitive in those fields.
“We face an adversary and a competitor in China that is both investing very heavily in this, but also stealing the advances we’re making. [They are] reverse engineering them in many cases…to advance their own programs and subsidizing it with the state. And so the fear is that we’re going to find ourselves in a world here very soon where China has established technical dominance in a number of critical fields.
“There’s no American alive today that has ever lived in a world in which America has been in second place in global technology…. And the world looks very different when your country is not the world leader, and…an adversary is. Life looks very different when that’s the case.”
On raising awareness of China’s pursuit of global dominance:
“First of all, obviously, China is doing what they’re doing. But there are a lot of decisions made by American policymakers that are to blame. Our screening for inbound investment, where a Chinese company that actually works for the Chinese government comes into the United States, buys up an American company for purposes of getting their hands on some startup technology — we’re not screening that well enough. We’re not investing enough ourselves.
“But we also have American companies that, because they’ve been promised market share — maybe a small market share of China, but a market share that, for them, represents billions of dollars a year in earnings — those companies are willing to go along with China’s demands, including turning over intellectual property. They don’t care, frankly, if five or ten years from now, once the Chinese figure out how to do it on their own, they kick those companies out and put them out of business. They’re more focused on short-term profits. And so I think it’s really important for us to understand that, if we think we’re going to free-market our way through this, that’s not going to work.
“Because China is not playing by free-market rules. They’re playing by mercantilist rules where their companies get to cheat and steal but ours do not. They expect us to live up to the rules, but they also expect us to allow them to continue to violate them. And that just cannot continue without there being some really dramatic and devastating consequences for it.”
On leftist radicalism and the lack of American corporate patriotism:
“Let’s say you’re an American company — you’re headquartered in the United States, but you don’t really view yourself as an American company. You view yourself as a global company, you view yourself individually as a citizen of the world. And your job is to try to make as much money as you can this next quarter so the shareholders will be happy, your board will give you a new contract, and it doesn’t matter if the way you’re doing it is bad for America. And that’s what a lot of companies have decided. It’s not illegal, but it’s what they feel like they want to do.
“We need to recognize that and understand that that’s how these companies think, and therefore, we should not be building public policy on what these companies think is in their best interest. We have to be acting in the best interest of the country.
“Our job is to act in the best interests of the United States of America. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go after these companies and persecute them or try to deliberately harm them, but just because some company or some Chamber of Commerce comes up to D.C. and says, ‘This is bad for American business,’ doesn’t necessarily mean this is bad for America. It might be the right thing to do for our country, even if it may harm one or two corporations. And I hear about it all the time, but…it’s something we need to wrap our heads around, or we won’t have those problems in ten years because those corporations won’t be American corporations anymore.
“These are the…American corporations who decide they’re going to boycott the state of Georgia over an election law or boycott Florida over what kids are being taught when they’re five or six years old in the classroom, but they have no problem doing a lot of business in China — including sponsoring Olympics in China — [or] any country where there [are] no human rights, where people are summarily jailed without trial, where, right now, people in Shanghai are eating [while] welded shut inside their homes, and where Uyghur Muslims are put into work camps where genocide is being committed. They have no problem doing that.
“We have all sorts of industries that benefit from production chains inside of China that include things they know are made by slave[s] and from forced labor. But they don’t care, because it’s cheaper. But they have no problem putting up billboards and condemning decisions made by democratically-elected American politicians. So that’s a real factor here — the focus on that stuff here, domestically, and the refusal and the failure to focus on the competition we’re in with China, and the hypocrisy embedded in that double standard.”
On how the threat of Russia compares to the threat of China:
“They’re not comparable. There’s no doubt Russia has strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. [The Russians] have some conventional capabilities, although clearly not as many as they had two months ago when they suffered atrocious losses at the hands of Ukrainian forces who bravely fought them.
“Russia is a threat, certainly to Europe, and has the ability to pose a threat to the United States, including in the realm of cyber, electronic warfare, and the like. China is on a completely different scale. China is a technological, commercial, biomedical, geopolitical, military, and industrial competitor. I mean, it’s not even comparable.
“On a scale of one to ten, China’s a ten, and Russia’s a three. That doesn’t mean they’re not interrelated. I think the Chinese are watching very carefully [as to] what happens when you invade a neighboring country. What happens when you take land that doesn’t belong to you? How does the world respond? What leverage do they have on us? What leverage do we have in return? They’re taking notes and learning lessons from this invasion of Ukraine for their future aspirations, both in the South China Sea [and] places like Taiwan.
On the leverage China has over the United States:
“Look at our supply chains right now. They’re disrupted by the pandemic. Imagine if [China] denies us the same things, not because of the pandemic, but because they…want to threaten us into not getting involved in whatever they decide to do around the world.
“The leverage ranges from ninety percent of the most important antibiotics you rely on in this country that are made in China to…seventy-something percent of the basic elements involved in these batteries — lithium and the like — that are so necessary, all the way down to obviously textiles and things of this nature. Eighty-something percent of our generic pharmaceuticals that we rely on in this country also are made in China. They’ve got that.
“And they’ve got growing leverage in a number of other fields as well — in telecommunications, where Huawei is spreading across the world. Very recently there were reports in the U.K. about these cameras that have been installed around different parts of the United Kingdom. They don’t just have cameras, there’s microphones. We know that they’re fully capable of having backdoors.
“China is going to have a built-in espionage system, including in this country. We still have not just Huawei equipment but white-labeled equipment in defense installations of our country. White label means we thought we bought it from a non-Chinese company but the actual equipment, the server, the camera, they just stripped off the label and put on some other label, and it’s installed — that has a backdoor. You’ve basically invited Chinese spies right into your facility. The leverage is there and it’s growing.
“If we think that the energy leverage that we had over Europe was substantial, the leverage China potentially has over America and the West is extraordinary. They have the ability to disrupt our economy right now because we depend way too much on them for both basic raw materials and finished production of goods, and that’s only growing.”
On China’s leverage over the American supply chain:
“A supply chain disruption in China that they didn’t intend to happen — they’re doing it because they have a zero-COVID protocol — is one of the main drivers of our inflation. Not the sole driver, but a big part of it. And this is something they didn’t intend to do, it just happened. Imagine if they intended to do it.
“I don’t think we’ll finish this decade without there being something happening with Taiwan. So just imagine we’re getting to that point. China has decided they’re going to go in and they say to America, ‘It’s very simple. If you get involved and aid Taiwan or, for that matter, Japan, or whoever else’s territory we want to go after, we are going to cut you off of these things. And you depend on these things.’ Now, not only does that threaten American policymakers, but they know that the businesses that rely on those things are going to be screaming at the door of the Capitol saying, ‘This is hurting our economy.’ I [can] see it now.
“The other day, I had an opportunity to talk to one of the companies that makes airplanes, and they were complaining that China is no longer buying airplanes from America. They’re now buying them all from Europe. Basically the argument was, whatever we did to make the Chinese angry, we have to stop doing it, because it’s hurting us. They’re not buying our planes anymore. That’s just one industry and one company. Imagine that across multiple industries. [Imagine] the impact it would have on our economy and the impact it would have on policymakers.
“I’m telling you, policymakers would respond to that. If that [airplane-maker] is in your state and is one of the largest employers in your state, you, as a senator, are going to go over there and argue on their behalf and, by doing so, [you are] arguing on behalf of the Chinese position on that issue. That’s the leverage they have now. That leverage, if we don’t change course, will only grow exponentially in the years to come and put us at…a level of vulnerability this nation has never faced in the modern era.”
On the prospect of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan:
“I don’t think we finished this decade without [China invading Taiwan]. I think [the CCP’s] preference is to have the Taiwanese look at it and say, ‘The Americans are not going to come to war, and they don’t have the ability to. The Chinese have stand-off offensive capabilities that will destroy [America’s] ships and planes, so even if America wanted to come to our aid, they’re not going to. And America is not going to come to our aid because they’re going to be afraid of the impact that’s going to have on their economy.’ And once [Taiwan] make[s] that decision — that no matter what America wrote on paper, it is not going to come to Taiwan’s aid — then they have no choice but to cut the best deal they can with the Chinese government. I think that is plan A for China. That’s what they would prefer to see happen.
“But if that doesn’t happen, I think Plan B is to take it and to take it by force, to take it very quickly, do a very rapid military engagement that allows them not just to capture it, but to secure it before there can be any foreign engagement…from the United States or our allies in the region. They want to be able to [take over] very quickly, before everybody can come in and help Taiwan. That’s the rule. And so I think that’s Plan B.
“They prefer Plan A, but they’re ready to go with plan B, and they’re building up that capability. I don’t think it’s going to happen in the next six months, although I think it’s possible. But I certainly don’t think we’ll finish this decade without that happening one way or the other. We have to be ready for that.”
On the global impact of a future invasion of Taiwan:
“The day that China takes Taiwan without the U.S. being able to stop them will be a lynchpin moment in history. It will be a signal to the world at that moment. That moment will be the moment in which the world will conclude that the United States and the West are no longer the most powerful countries in the world. China is now on top, and the whole world order will change to a China-centric world order at that moment. That is the symbolic importance of that moment. It’s actually not just symbolic, it’s very real. [Even] our allies in Asia and around the world are going to say, ‘We are now living in an era where America is no longer the superpower, and where America can’t stop China. We better figure out how to cut our best deal with China.’ It will be a pivotal, historic moment in the course of human events, really something we haven’t seen in our lifetime. We’re hoping that day will never come.”
On how China is complicit in Russia’s war on Ukraine:
“They’re doing everything they can without getting caught to help Russia, whether it’s the provision of ammunition, whether it’s — I think probably the one thing they would really like to do is create an alternative banking system that can evade U.S. and Western sanctions, because they’ll need that one day. I think [China] is providing [Russia] technical and intelligence support to the extent possible.
“But they don’t want to be associated with it openly. They don’t like the negative publicity that comes with it. I think they’re probably nervous about the human rights [and] the atrocities that have been committed, because as more and more of these cities are liberated, and the press and other investigators can get in there, we’re going to discover a level of atrocity committed by an advanced industrialized nation that we haven’t seen since the Second World War. The world’s going to be outraged by it. I don’t think the Chinese want that to splatter on them.
“But they certainly view not just Russia as a partner in this endeavor to sort of supplant the United States and the Western liberal world order — not only do they view [Russia] as a partner, I think they view this war as sort of the opening salvo in that transition. How this goes will set the tone for what happens down the road. I also don’t think [China] minds that we’re spending a bunch of money, time, and troops focused on Russia as opposed to focusing on building up our capabilities.”
On voting to send more monetary aid to Ukraine:
“I want to help. I think we’ve done a lot to help Ukraine. I think we should continue to help Ukraine. But I think we should help them in pursuit of a plan, a plan that says this is what the U.S.’s role is going to be, and this is how we fulfill it. Because otherwise, I think we’re going to be back here. I think we’re going to be back here before October, asking for another forty or fifty billion dollars.
“The problem we have in Washington today is five or six people get in a room, they draw this thing up, and then they tell everybody, ‘This is what it means to help Ukraine. You’re either for what we say, or you don’t, or you’re against it.’ That’s a terrible choice. There’s no strategic thinking going forward. So it’s forty billion today…. Maybe it does cost forty billion, but maybe the same can be achieved for twenty or twenty-five billion dollars. There’s no conversation.
“Meanwhile, we have a significant problem in our country that we have to confront. We won’t be in a position to help anybody if we can’t fix some of the things we face right now in America. [There’s] a border crisis, but we can’t even secure our border. We have a baby formula shortage in America, which is astonishing. Gas prices are high, inflation is eating away at our economy…. I think a lot of Americans ask themselves, ‘How can we find forty billion dollars to help a cause that we support but not be able to spend five billion on border walls, two million on whatever it is, on baby formula shortages or whatever that cost?’”
On the China’s quest for global supremacy:
“I don’t think that’s something they used to admit for a long time, until very recently. Their argument was that they were a poor developing country. They were no threat to anyone. They don’t try to hide it as much anymore. They’re not…biding their time [or] hiding strength. They’re not doing that anymore. They’re pretty aggressive about it, beginning in [2007 and 2008]….
“There’s a growing awareness of that now, and that’s good. There’s been a sea change in the perception. We’re not all the way there yet. I don’t think there’s…the necessary level of urgency about it. We don’t have fifteen years to figure this out. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of mistakes to make up for over here very quickly, or we’re going to see our options begin to close.”
On American corporations investing money into China:
“I think what’s most concerning is when they do it with the retiree money of federal employees [that’s] being invested directly into companies that are designing weapon systems to kill Americans in the future.
“You can make a lot of money for these companies. These companies in China are guaranteed market share by their government. The government basically tells these companies: ‘You are the only ones that are going to be able to sell this in China. Plus our government is going to go all over the world, get contracts and stuff as well, and…we’ll subsidize the prices so we can beat anyone on price. And if we have to, we’ll bribe the leaders of that country so that they’ll give you this contract.’
“So, you’re an investment house in the West, America or wherever, and you know: ‘We can make a lot of money investing in these companies…. We’re investing in a company that’s bad for America, but we’re going to make a lot of money for our investors. They’re going to be very happy with us, and that’s all we care about.’
“That’s what we see happening, and that behavior needs to be acknowledged. We need to begin to address it, especially when you tell me that federal employees every month…, by investing…money in a thrift savings plan — which [Republicans in Congress are currently holding up four nominees to their board — …that is investing in companies that are doing work for the Chinese military.
“Think about it this way. You have a sailor somewhere in America investing for his future in the equivalent of the 401k. That money, his retirement money or her retirement money, is being invested in a company that’s designing the missiles to blow up the ship they serve. All this is nuts, but that’s what’s happening.”
On preventing federal employees’ retirement funds from being invested in Chinese companies:
“I believe I was the first one to begin to raise the alarm on it two or three years ago…. It’s unbelievable because you have to understand the mentality of the people that want to serve on these boards and that oversee them. [For them,] their job is very simple. Get the best return on investment for their shareholders as possible. ‘We want to make as much money back on our investments as possible.’ It doesn’t matter if what you’re investing in is bad.
“Now, interestingly enough, if they were investing in fossil fuels, if they were investing in any gunmakers, [or] they were investing in anything like that, then you would have the uproar from the media and the Left about no longer making those investments and divesting of these things that they were investing in Israel, that you have some people saying that should be divested. But if they’re investing in the Chinese military or Chinese military-related companies, then that’s fine. That’s what we’re battling.
“On the Left, we have the woke crazies that basically don’t care about that stuff because they don’t think America is all that special and worth saving. On the Right, we have people that have such a pure market mentality that if it is the best way to make money and it provides a good rate of return in the short term, it doesn’t matter if it’s destructive to their country in the long term. I think both of these approaches are what’s leading us to this point.”
On corporate elites being influenced by China:
“I think they’ve been captured in the following way. I think they’ve taken a lot of trips to China. I think China has worked very hard for years to influence them. [It] probably started when they were younger junior members in the business class. They’ve got a system designed to invite American business leaders, not when they’re the CEO, when they’re a mid-level employee starting out in their career, invite them to trips to China, so they create these personal relationships, this connection with China, and begin to indoctrinate them in sort of the Chinese narrative of world events. Over time, these people work their way up the corporate ladder, and then they find themselves as leaders of these companies. They do so within the framework of the last twenty or twenty-five years. That’s part one.
“Part two is — there’s no denying it — if you ask one of these companies, ‘Okay, you’re no longer going to be able to do business in China,’ for them, depending on what industry you’re in, would mean a dramatic loss of revenue. How do they explain that to their board and their shareholders without getting fired? That’s the second part of that. There’s the practical component of the money and then the long-term investment China’s made. So, they are captured in that way.”
On how China influences Hollywood:
“One of the most stunning examples of it is America. China already censors American movies, and movies made in America are censored by the Chinese Communist Party. Here’s how. No Hollywood studio will produce a movie that has a Chinese villain or the Chinese Communist Party doing anything bad. You can’t produce that movie because they won’t show it in China. Anytime you produce a movie, part of the calculus that you make is not how much it will make around the world, but how much will it make on the Chinese market? China uses that as a weapon. That’s a little piece, but that’s something.”
On Sony refusing China’s censorship demands:
“Most interestingly, recently, the last Spider-Man movie that came out, in the closing scene, has a shot of the Statue of Liberty. The Chinese wanted Sony to take that out, and Sony said no, they refused. It took a Japanese company to defend America’s honor. But every single day there are movies that are not made or are altered or edited because the Chinese government will not allow distribution in China, and the Hollywood studios don’t want to lose money.”
On the controversial appearance of the Epoch Times in the most recent Dr. Strange movie:
“I imagine that at some point somebody will figure out how to censor that out of the movie. If all it takes to make billions of dollars in China is to just edit some scene, I bet they’re going to edit that scene, unless the person in charge is a very principled person who refuses to do it. The Chinese have figured out our system. They know how much making a profit is important to capitalism and how to weaponize it against them.”
On American scientists cooperating with Chinese counterparts to obstruct investigations into COVID’s origin:
“I’m not surprised. That’s just an email someone found. There’s probably been a million examples of things that we don’t and never will know about. This is exactly what they do. There’s a lot of money in the research field as well. For years, the Chinese have been hiring American researchers to either share their research with them for money or to just take the research over there, away from the United States. And oftentimes it’s research that began with American taxpayer money. So I’m not surprised at all. I think that it’s probably even worse than what we know. And I think time will reveal some of that as we get deeper into the years to come.
“As far as the origins themselves, the intelligence agencies have said publicly that it is just as likely that [COVID] was an accident in the lab as [it] was naturally occurring. I would argue it’s probably likely, because China’s had multiple pandemics over the last ten years of zoonotic infections, and this is the only one where they’ve yet to produce the animal that it started in, where they have yet to identify its origin and share it with the world. It’s been almost two years now. So clearly something happened here that they don’t want the world to know about.
“And I think their unwillingness to be transparent made it harder to deal with this pandemic. Had we known about this in December, I think we would have been able to move quicker on it, isolate it, begin to deal with therapeutics and vaccines a lot faster. There are people in the world that died because China lied, and that’s a fact.”
On Americans’ ignorance of China’s military-civil fusion strategy:
“We don’t have that here. We have American companies, Apple or Google or Amazon, and they’re a company, they have nothing to do with the government. No one thinks that Apple and Google belong to the government. And so we in our mind cannot understand. We ascribe to other countries the same attribute. In the case of China, there is no such thing.
“I don’t care what it is you produce or make, or what service you provide. Nothing [in China] is separate from the military and the government, nothing. You wouldn’t exist if they didn’t allow you to exist. When they come knocking on your door, and they say this thing that you’re developing, whether it’s TikTok, whether it’s a rocket, this thing that you’re developing, we want that for the military as well. It happens. You don’t have a choice. You don’t have the right to say no.
“So in many cases, the people that are successful in those businesses come from government and Communist Party service and military service. So there is no distinction between a major Chinese company and the Chinese military, the Chinese government. There is no distinction. They are agents and extensions of the regime, and they only exist because the communist regime allows them to exist.”
On the CCP’s accountability for COVID:
“I’ve never seen indications that this was a deliberate weaponization of a virus…. These guys do very risky types of research, gain-of-function, and mess around with a lot of things at a lab that has a history of accidents and unsafe labs. Someone got sick, someone left and got other people sick. They live in a dictatorial system where reporting bad news to your superiors does not get you promoted or rewarded. Someone at the lab basically didn’t want to call Beijing and say, ‘Hey, guys, we have a problem.’ A lot like what happened in the Soviet Union initially when Chernobyl was melting down and the thing sort of spread.
“At some point the Chinese Communist Party was aware of what was happening, and they’ve done everything possible to keep the truth from coming out because it makes them look bad, because it makes them look responsible, because of the implications around the world. And then, of course, they’ve spent a substantial amount of time themselves creating all kinds of ridiculous theories about how [it] actually was America that did this. ‘America created a virus that actually began in China.’ Stupid stuff. But that’s what this is about. And that’s my view on it.
“They’re doing things in China that are not only unethical, but that we would never allow in the U.S. for safety reasons. And that makes them attractive. A lot of researchers are like, ‘We can never do that experiment in America, but we can do it in China. Let’s take our research there. They’re willing to do these things. There are risks associated with that. And when a problem happens, they’re going to cover it up. They’re never going to accept responsibility for that mistake, because it makes them look bad both domestically and around the world.
“I think [the Chinese Communist Party is] culpable for the death of millions of people around the world. If we had developed treatments, and we had responded to this quicker, if scientists had had the initial virus and the code on it and understood it earlier, while it was still in China, there are all sorts of things we could