>> How the Chinese Communist Party is threatening the United States, this week on "Firing Line."
>> This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century.
>> He's the chair of the new China Select Committee in the House of Representatives.
>> The select committee will come to order.
>> Congressman Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, is working with Democrats on a bipartisan effort to call attention to the danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party... ...from military threats to control of critical supply chains to its ability to spy on Americans, including through TikTok.
>> The question we have to ask ourselves, "Do we want a CCP-controlled company to be the dominant media platform in America?"
>> At the committee's first hearing, there was a rare sense of shared purpose from both sides of the aisle.
>> We must act with a sense of urgency.
I believe our policy over the next 10 years will set the stage for the next 100.
>> The CCP is counting on us to be divided.
We must rise to the occasion and prove them wrong.
>> Has a new cold war with China already begun?
And what should we do about it?
What does Representative Mike Gallagher say now?
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> Representative Mike Gallagher, welcome back to "Firing Line."
>> It's great to be back.
>> You are now the chair of the new Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, which held its first hearing at the end of February.
You call the Chinese Communist Party "the greatest threat to the United States."
What made you realize that the CCP ought to be the central focus of your attention?
>> The real sort of road to Damascus moment for me was in 2015 when the Chinese hacked the Office of Personnel Management, and I, along with 20 million other federal employees and military servicemembers, got a letter saying, "Your records have been compromised."
And this was around the time that Xi Jinping was visiting the United States for an official visit.
And it just suggested a massive disparity between what they were saying publicly and what they were doing privately.
So that was my wake-up call that sent me on a path towards trying to educate myself, study the Chinese Communist Party, and be effective as a legislator in Congress.
>> The Select Committee on the CCP is operating in a bipartisan manner.
You're working really closely with ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Now, a 2022 Pew poll found that 62% of Americans view China as a competitor rather than as an enemy.
Yet 70% of Americans view Russia as an enemy.
Do Americans sufficiently understand the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party?
>> I still think there's a tendency to conceive of it as a distant threat or an "over there" threat or purely an economic threat, as opposed to a clear and present danger or a threat to American sovereignty.
Now, we have had recent incidents, like the Chinese spy-balloon incident, that have brought that threat closer to home for Americans.
But part of what we have to do, part of our mission on the Select Committee on the CCP, is to make the case to the American people as to why this is something they need to be concerned about and what we can do together to counter it.
The second thing I would say is, we need to constantly, as we talk about China as a competitor or an enemy or whatever the phrase we're using is, make a distinction between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people.
The Chinese people are not our enemy.
They're the primary victims of the CCP's repression.
And the more we make that distinction, I think the more successful our efforts at public education can be.
>> At the Select Committee's first hearing, former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger made the point that if one wants to understand what Chinese leader Xi Jinping intends to do, one need only listen to his words.
He submitted a video to the hearing.
Here's a clip of that video.
Take a look.
>> Look, for at least the last two decades, the United States had worked towards integrating China economically, with the idea that a liberalized economic system would lead to a liberalized political system.
You even admitted into buying into this idea that China could become a more responsible member of the global community if it had a growing economy.
Why, in the case of China, did this theory fail?
>> Well, I think that part of the source of the theory was a classic example of mirror imaging.
We tend to sort of graft our own value structure onto foreign societies.
And I would also draw a parallel to Russia.
One of the things that we saw in the lead up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a tendency to discount the idea that Putin would do something like this.
And the lesson of Ukraine, in my mind, is when you have dictators and authoritarians telling you in plain language that they intend to do something, you shouldn't discount it just because it doesn't align with Western values.
And what we need to understand about Xi Jinping is that he has intensely studied the fall of the Soviet Union in an effort to learn from that fall and succeed where they failed.
I mean, he talked about this in his earliest speeches as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, but we just didn't pay attention because, again, too many people were still bought into that idea that by integrating them into the global economy, it would moderate their political behavior.
They would become less aggressive abroad and less repressive at home, and, indeed, the opposite happened.
The final thing I'd say is, there's a lot of people that want this to be true because they have a lot to -- a lot of money to make in China.
So there's a financial interest underlying it, as well.
>> Former national security adviser H.R.
McMaster has said that the Chinese Communist Party presents a far greater threat than the Soviet Union ever presented.
What do you understand the goal of the CCP to be?
>> To be the dominant global power and to render us subordinate, humiliated, and increasingly irrelevant on the world stage.
I mean, they talk about this.
They talk about the triumph of their model and the decline of the capitalist-led system led by the United States.
And I do think this is a more complex threat than the Soviet Union, for the reasons that General McMaster elucidated in the hearing, which is that we never had to contemplate a form of selective economic decoupling with the Soviet Union because our economies didn't really interact.
But because we've been pursuing China's integration with global economy, we're now trying to figure out, "How do we reduce our dependency on Chinese manufacturing?
How do we ensure that American dollars aren't subsidizing the CCP's military modernization or its genocidal ambitions?"
And that's a very difficult thing to do, given how exposed we are, economically and financially.
So let me.
>> Ask you about the terminology around the Cold War.
I've heard you use the phraseology of Cold War, and yet it suggests a certain kind of strategy that isn't going to work in this case.
At least Americans understand Cold War strategy to mean containment.
And, of course, we can't contain China because we're intimately intertwined in our economy and many other areas.
So help me understand, is there a disadvantage to using the language around the Cold War that doesn't quite translate?
>> I think the analogy is useful both for the similarities as well as the differences that it identifies, with respect to the old Cold War.
Where it's perhaps most useful is that the Cold War reminds us that we want this to stay cold.
We don't want a hot war.
Indeed, the thrust of our efforts need to be deterring CCP aggression, particularly across the Taiwan Strait, so we don't find that this Cold War turns hot.
The final thing I'd say is that, we did not seek a cold war.
It is the CCP and increasingly in partnership with Russia, Iran, North Korea, that has been waging a cold war against us for quite some time, we are just now waking up to that fact, and that's why I find the analogy useful.
>> There's an argument on the American left that the Cold War paradigm in our framing actually gives Beijing an excuse to ratchet up its own rhetoric and its own posture.
>> I think what undermines that argument is the fact that when we had less bellicose rhetoric for the last decade, they were ratcheting up... >> Anyway.
>> ...their aggression, their military modernization.
They were building islands in the South and East China Sea.
They were perfecting a concentration camp in Xinjiang autonomous region.
So I'm not sure softer language will do anything to moderate their behavior.
I would prefer, in general, that we speak softly and carry a big stick.
I think that's overall the best approach for U.S. foreign policy.
But it does us no good to mince words or say things that aren't true for fear of -- of provoking Xi Jinping, because Xi Jinping is the aggressor here.
Ours is a defensive strategy.
We are trying to defend the free world from totalitarian aggression.
We're not trying to take territory.
We're not trying to remake any society in our image.
We are just trying to prevent the CCP from exporting its techno-totalitarian model of governance or taking territory -- i.e., Taiwan -- by force.
>> Chinese leader Xi Jinping has created the most heavily surveilled state in history, and I'd like to dive into how Chinese surveillance tactics also impact Americans.
>> You have described TikTok as "digital fentanyl."
Explain what makes TikTok so much more dangerous than Facebook or Amazon or any other U.S.-based company that collects reams of data on Americans every day.
>> Well, one, none of these highly addictive social-media apps are good for us, on some level.
But what makes TikTok different is the basic ownership structure.
TikTok is owned by Bytedance, and Bytedance is effectively controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
The other thing I think we have to concede is that TikTok is so successful because the algorithm is better at addicting kids.
And that's why the comparison to fentanyl, I think, is appropriate.
The real concern with TikTok is not just that the app can track your location, which it can.
The threat is that, increasingly, it's a news source for young Americans.
It's not just about dumb dance videos.
It is a source of information.
So the question we have to ask ourselves -- "Do we want a CCP-controlled company to be the dominant media platform in America?"
And I have to believe we can come to a compromise in the form of a forced sale to an American company that satisfies my national-security concerns while still allowing the app to exist in some form.
>> You referenced how many Americans are getting their news on TikTok.
Put that in concrete terms, in terms of the 2024 election.
Of course, there was a lot of focus placed on international interference in the 2016 election.
What could the influence of TikTok look like in the 2024 election?
>> It could be -- it could have a massive impact.
I mean, merely by tweaking the algorithm, you could downplay certain narratives, you could intensify certain narratives, you could -- you could enhance the core narrative right now, which is that "America is a systemically racist, evil hellscape, and all cops are bad."
I mean, they're parroting this propaganda online on our social-media platforms.
And so it could be -- It could -- it could have a devastating impact on our elections.
And again, it gets back to the core issue.
We don't want to give an entity like the Chinese Communist Party that weapon with which to not only influence our elections but influence our sense of national identity or intensify hostility between Americans.
"America Against America" is the title of a book written by one of Xi Jinping's closest advisers, and it also describes the strategy that they've deployed quite effectively to pit Americans against Americans and make sure that we are focused on destroying ourselves and not confronting aggression coming out of Beijing.
>> I want to ask about the CCP's influence campaign abroad.
This includes foot soldiers who are part of the United Front work department, which you have described as, quote... What do you want Americans to understand about the CCP's United Front work department?
>> Well, Xi Jinping has called this his magic weapon.
And the United Front work department is, you know, many times bigger than our own State Department.
So this is a way in which they capture and corrupt foreign elites.
They corrupt foreign institutions.
And I say it's insidious because, oftentimes, it's very subtle.
And what we're trying to do is educate members of Congress on what United Front work is, this combination of intelligence operations, economic coercion, and influence efforts, and to also make them aware that they are targets for United Front work.
And increasingly, they are soft targets.
So it may take the form of a -- you know, a donation to an American university that is given in the name of a group that, you know, you start to tease out a connection or two, and then it's, you know, directly affiliated with the United Front work department.
Or it could take the form, again, on an American campus of a CCP-aligned student group being used to harass and, in some cases, physically assault Chinese students or Taiwanese students just because they've said things critical of the regime in Beijing.
So we want to educate the members about what United Front work is and then identify ways where we can counter it in Congress.
>> Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in late February that Beijing is considering providing weapons to Russia in its war against Ukraine.
The Biden administration has also said that if China provides lethal support to Russia, it would be crossing a red line.
Do you think Xi Jinping will cross the red line?
>> [ Chuckles ] Well, I think communicating, in no uncertain terms, that this would be a red line is a wise move.
And I do think there would be overwhelming bipartisan support for some form of economic punishment in the form of a sanction from Congress if, indeed, China decided to cross the red line.
Increasingly, I think Xi views Putin as his junior partner in this de facto alliance to undermine the West.
He is Xi's tethered goat in Europe, his agent of chaos.
And so I think there's a real risk that he will go forward with providing lethal assistance to Putin because it serves his interests, and we need to be prepared to respond in a bipartisan fashion if that happens.
>> Banking sanctions?
>> I think a very strong sanctions package would be on the table in that scenario.
>> What else?
>> Well, if you look at our overall strategy, vis-à-vis the Chinese Communist Party, certain things are obvious.
We need to do more to enhance deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.
I just came back from Taiwan, and my biggest takeaway was the fact that we have a $19 billion backlog of foreign military sales items that have been approved but not delivered.
That's the best thing we could do to prevent World War III is to arm Taiwan to the teeth.
And there is bipartisan support for that.
>> Another component of the geopolitical arrangement with Taiwan is, of course, semiconductors.
95%, 90% of the world's most advanced semiconductors, of course, are produced in Taiwan.
And, you know, you didn't vote for the CHIPS and Science Act, which created more than $50 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to incentivize U.S.-based companies to build up the semiconductor sector here in the U.S.
I just want to be clear.
You support measures to build up semiconductor production outside of Taiwan.
>> I do.
I want to make sure that, however, in doing that, we don't undermine our deterrent posture with respect to Taiwan.
They talk about their, you know, semiconductor dominance as a "silicon shield."
So we just need to be careful about how we do this and constantly signal to our friends in Taiwan that we are going to do everything in our power to help them defend themselves.
The other problem with the CHIPS Act right now that even proponents are discovering is that, without more aggressive regulatory reform, a lot of these chip fabs aren't gonna be built on a timeline that makes sense if you're concerned about a prospective invasion of Taiwan within the next five years.
But we do need to think about, when it comes to certain areas -- advanced pharmaceutical ingredients, rare earths, energetics, the things that are in our weapon systems -- what is the right mix of state and federal funding or incentives?
We can't do it everywhere.
It's got to be selective, right?
We have no problem if farmers want to sell soybeans to China or if Americans want to buy cheap textiles from China.
But when it comes to key industries -- For example, we don't want the CCP to be able to cut off the export of life-saving drugs in order to humiliate us or bring us to our knees.
There's going to have to be government action.
>> To that point, 90% of the antibiotics in the world are produced in China.
70% of acetaminophen is imported from China.
So how do you think about that?
>> It's a massive problem.
I think it's not an easy thing to solve overnight.
But one thing we're trying to do in the Select Committee's work is figure out, "Is there a bipartisan path forward that meaningfully secures our supply chain and meaningfully reclaims our economic independence?"
and pharmaceuticals is a key area.
>> Let me just go back, because you mentioned the silicon shield.
The silicon shield is this notion that somehow Taiwan is protected from invasion because it has a near monopoly on these advanced semiconductor chips that it produces.
On the flip side, does increasing the places where we produce semiconductors, like producing them in the United States, undermine Taiwan's security?
>> Well, my hope is that, if we get our signaling right, both in terms of what we say about our support to Taiwan -- and I, for example, have been a proponent of clarifying our policy of strategic ambiguity.
So right now we don't really say if we would definitively defend Taiwan.
I think it would actually enhance cross-strait stability if we were clear and said in no uncertain terms, "If the CCP tries to invade, we will defend Taiwan."
We haven't actually been meaningfully improving our military posture in the region.
That's what we need to do.
>> You are in favor of clarifying our previous position, which had been one of strategic ambiguity.
That had been the position of the United States for decades.
What would you suggest the articulation of our new policy be?
>> That we will defend Taiwan if Xi Jinping tries to take it by force.
I will, however, concede that what matters far more than strategic ambiguity or strategic clarity is strategic capability.
The actual weapon systems we have both on Taiwan, the ability of the Taiwanese to fight and our ability to work with them and train them on certain systems, that has to be the main effort.
But I do think strategic clarity would help reduce the chance of a miscalculation across the Taiwan Strait.
>> This program, "Firing Line," was originally hosted by William F. Buckley Jr. for 33 years.
Buckley held debates on relevant topics, and in 1997, William F. Buckley Jr. and Arianna Huffington... >> Wow.
>> ...debated trade with China and human rights.
Take a look at this.
>> We pledge always in language and accents unmistakably clear to the world to deplore the hideous treatment by the Chinese government of those brave people who struggle to practice freedom of political action and of conscience.
>> They know all too well what is going on in China.
They know all too well about the slave-labor camps, about the forced abortions, about the torture and execution of dissidents.
So what is left?
Why do they turn a blind eye to what is happening?
It's because they value free trade more than they value freedom, commerce more than justice, and the rule of money more than the rule of law.
>> Human rights continues to be a major problem for the Chinese Communist Party.
The CCP is currently sponsoring a genocide against a Muslim minority, the Uyghurs, in Xinjiang province.
The West acknowledges that this is a genocide.
What do we need to know about the values of a government that is willing to commit a genocide on its own people?
>> I think we need to understand that this threat won't just be contained to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, that they are perfecting this model of techno-totalitarian control, and they're going to export it not only throughout the borders of China but increasingly would like to see a world that looks more like Xinjiang.
We need to be clear that America will not stand idly by while this is happening.
It's why I think it was very productive for us to pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in a bipartisan fashion, and one of the things we need to do on the Select Committee is to conduct basic oversight to make sure that that's actually being enforced, so that we're not dependent on slave labor.
>> How is enforcement going?
>> I think it's very embryonic right now.
I think -- you know, I think there's a lot of companies that have questions about how do they comply with it.
There's a question about how you certify that your supply chains don't sort of run through Xinjiang.
So I think we have a lot of work yet to be done on enforcing that.
>> I mean, Nike is one of these companies who actively lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
Many American companies and industries, frankly, are tied in knots in the context of their businesses and their assets and their investments in China.
One is the NBA, another is Apple.
In 2020, you said... Tell me more about that.
>> [ Chuckles ] Well, I think we saw this with Hong Kong play out, in the NBA in particular.
And the concern seemed to be, "Well, let's not compromise the business that we have in China."
That is troubling for a lot of Americans.
We want American companies to act like American companies, in support of American values.
And if you remember, the protesters that were on the streets in Hong Kong, as the CCP was taking over, were in many cases waving American flags.
They were looking to us for leadership.
So I get it.
I don't begrudge the effort from major American companies to make money all around the world.
And I understand that China is this massive market, but we don't want to allow the CCP to use access to their market as a weapon to silence Americans and undermine American values.
So I think we can have a productive conversation with Disney, with the NBA, with Apple.
I genuinely want to understand how they think about doing business in China.
We have to have that conversation, difficult though it may be at times.
>> Former President Trump this week called for those arrested for their role in January 6th violence to be released.
He cited selectively edited security videos that aired on Fox News by Tucker Carlson, that were provided to him by Speaker McCarthy.
President Trump claims those videos prove the defendants were victims of "a radical-left con job."
>> You were in the Capitol on January 6th.
You were on this program on January 7, 2021.
At that time, you called the actions of the rioters "pure lawless mob behavior."
Have you seen anything since then that changes your assessment of what happened that day?
>> Nothing that's changed my mind.
Yeah, I think the more that's out there, though, provided we're not compromising anything from a Capitol-security perspective, the better.
I think sunlight is the best disinfectant.
And so my hope is that, that will be -- You know, people will examine the full amount of video and data that's available, and we can have a sober discussion about it as opposed to just a partisan discussion.
>> If Donald Trump is the Republican Party's nominee in 2024, do you rule out supporting him?
>> Well, I said two years ago that he lost my support.
I'm not going to change that.
I think we have a ton of really good candidates.
My own bias would be for a non-boomer candidate, a younger candidate.
So we'll see.
We're going to have a really -- we're going to have a debate.
I look forward to seeing what the candidates have to offer.
>> Congressman, thank you for returning to "Firing Line," and thank you for your leadership on these important national-security issues.
>> Thank you.
>> "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover" is made possible in part by... And by... Corporate funding is provided by... >> You're watching PBS.