Booknotes+ Podcast: Author and Opinion Writer Gordon Chang on China and Its Future

By | December 27, 2022

Gordon Chang, our guest this week, is a well-known opinion writer, book author, and graduate of Cornell Law School. His father was born in China. His mother is of Scottish ancestry. Gordon Chang was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up 25 miles outside of New York City. At Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey, he was president of his class. Mr. Chang spent almost two decades in China, where he practiced international law. In the past 20 years, he has appeared regularly in the American media. Gordon Chang was the author of “The Coming Collapse of China” in 2001. We asked him if he’s still sticking by that prediction.

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Gordon Guthrie Chang Is a well-known opinion writer book Author and graduate of Cornell Law School His father was born in China His mother is of Scottish ancestry Gordon Chang was born in Long Branch New Jersey and grew up 25 miles outside of New York City At Columbia High School in Maplewood New Jersey he was president of his class Mr Chang spent almost two decades in China Where he practiced international law In the past 20 years he has appeared Regularly in the American Media Gordon Chang was the author of The Coming collapse of China in 2001. We discussed with him If he's still sticking by that Prediction Gordon Chang you wrote a book 21 years Ago that said China was going to Collapse in the next few years what Happened Yeah in 2001 Um the book said that the Communist Party would fall from power in a decade Um so I'm out of time Um I didn't foresee a lot of things um But the most important was the 2008 Downturn Um which gave the Chinese regime Um some strength gave it some confidence

And it uh shook confidence in the west And so um I think that that was the Primary reason why I was wrong When do you think it will happen if you Still do I still think that it will happen Um what we're seeing right now Um are signs of instability and actually Revolutionary sentiments in the Chinese People so for instance in these Extraordinary protests that started at The end of October over the covid Restrictions Um people were of course complaining About the lockdowns but as we saw Especially after the November 24th fire In arumchi people were on the streets Chanting down with Xi Jinping down with The Communist party and that's something That shook the party this is this is Important because you know a lot of People compare these recent protests With 1989 when there were demonstrations In about 370 Chinese cities and of Course Beijing but I think a better Comparison was 1949 and the reason is in 1989 Um people they did not challenge Communist Party rule they wanted Premier Lee pong a hardliner to step aside they Wanted the party to open up but they Felt the party should rule China if you Go back to 1949 very different situation Shanghai-shek's nationalists were so

Much would you look at the metrics we're So much stronger than the Communists but They failed and they failed because as The Great China historian Yu young sure Said the nationalists Lost people's Hearts And today it's the Communist party that Has lost Hearts yes it can stay in power Because it can imprison it can coerce it Can intimidate but it can't persuade And that means Um we're going to see some incident that Is going to trigger protests like we saw At the end of November and this is just Going to continue the party I think is On a limited timeline Can you remember when you first got Interested in being a China expert Um that's a long time ago Um I was practicing law in Shanghai uh With my wife and um I was working for The great Jerry cone Um Paul Weiss and and Jerry always loved To write about uh things at China Business and and whatever and so he got Me interested in writing and so one Thing led to another so it's been all Downhill since I met Jerry when was the First piece that you wrote that was Recognized and people started noticing That you were somewhat of an authority On China I don't know if that's happened up to Now anyway so

Um But You know all I can say is that I started Writing um at the end of the 1990s Um and enjoyed it and Um just sort of it it a passion became a Career you know my wife says well of Course I'm in retirement so this is like Busier than when I was practicing law Um and I'm still Um you know in all seriousness Um I don't think that I have much Influence in the current Administration I mean zero influence so that's why I Answered the way I did to your question Go back to the beginning how did your Dad get to the United States and why Great question Um My dad was a student in xiaotung University in Shanghai well he grew up In a town called rugo which is in Zhangsu Province north of the yongsi River Um went to school in Shanghai and that's The time of year the Japanese were Attacking Um China and along with tens of millions Of other Chinese he was pushed Westward And it was a great flow of humanity one Of the great tragedies in Chinese History my dad was fortunate enough to Take a national exam got a scholarship To the United States

He actually was examined by Shanghai-shek was a row of students and My dad tells the story my dad he had I Noticed that one of his ears had a Pierce Um and uh you know my dad being my dad I Didn't think he'd be one wearing Earrings but he said Um when he was very young his his Parents pierced his ear and the reason Is that at that time that it was felt That the gods would take away Um boys and so it was a practice in China of that time to put an earring on On boys so that the gods would skip over And late and let them live but anyway Um so shanghai-shek's in Reviewing the line with my dad in it and My dad my dad noticed that Chiang Kai-shek noticed that he had a piercing In his ear and my dad noticed a Chiang Kai-shek had a piercing in his ear Um so in any event my dad got the Scholarship after the inspection He flew over the hump over the Himalayas To India boarded a liberty ship which Went down to Australia before then going Up to the Port of San Pedro in California the reason why I took such a Security circuitous route was to avoid Japanese submarines my dad landed in February 1945 in La had a couple days to spend With a friend of his who also got a

Scholarship so a woman cab driver Because the cab drivers then were were Women Um took him around and and she said to Him would you like to see the homes of The stars and my dad not knowing Anything said yes so they actually went To Mary pickford's house Mary Pickford Wasn't there but they did go to Charlie Chaplin's house and the great man Himself answered the front door and uh After a little short conversation Because Charlie Chaplin was very Gracious even to two you know obviously Poor Chinese students Um my dad came away and and the one Thing he told me about that encounter Was that Charlie Chaplin was short Which is important because my dad was Short so anyway to make a very long Story short Um they took the the Transcontinental Railway went to Cornell my dad got his Master's in civil engineering in 1946 And there's a story after that but uh Much too long to tell What was it like for you growing up in New Jersey And I heard you one time say that you Were so different you look different Than other people and that you were Going to school with but I also noted That you were president of your class so You must have been popular

I was vice president of my high school And president of my high school Um and yeah I was different and got you Know all little kids who are different In any way get a hard time Um but of course if you're Chinese you Get a little bit of Gruff about it but nothing serious and Um you know I just got along Um with everybody Um You know it's it's You know it's it's something which um You know I don't think about very much Um because I had a really you know at School I had a happy time Um you know kids are kids and um after They give you a hard time for a little While they then become your friends and So it was great where did your father Meet your mother who I understand is Deceased Yes but my mom died in 1959 of cancer uh And my dad died in 2015 when he was 98. Um they met at Riverside Church in New York City it was sort of like a mixer And Um my dad's pretty sketchy on the Details so you now know everything I Know You did say in something that I saw that You you had a troubled past with him or He had a troubled relationship with him I was the first born and I was a boy and

Um Chinese household Um that confers special responsibilities Um and I was teaching my dad what it was Like to live in America and my dad was Teaching me what it was like to grow up In a Chinese household so yeah there was Friction Um but you know my wife Was very good she she said to me Um and this was maybe about 10 years Before he died he said Your dad's not going to live you know Forever and it's important that you Reconcile with him because if you don't You will regret it for the rest of your Lives And as difficult as things were Sometimes Um her advice was right so we did Reconcile and I mean it was it wasn't Terrible you know Um but you know there's just that Friction Um And so we were we were on very good Terms when he died and where did they Meet and she was not Chinese I Understand Yeah she she was American of uh Scottish Descent um she came from a long from a Family with a long line of Ministers in New York episcopalians Um And um they after they met in New York

City Um they got married and they moved to Keansburg New Jersey which is a town on The south coast of New York New York Bay Which is a Basically a town which was once Prosperous devastated by a hurricane in The early part of the 20th century Um and never recovered Um and so that's that's where we started And my dad you know it's interesting That when he was in Keansburg Um even though he had gotten his Master's in civil engineering that's the Sort of like the last thing that he Wanted to do with his life so in the Garage of Um home he actually set up a like a Three or four Table restaurant Chinese Restaurant And it failed miserably Um we still you know had the pottery From it um blue and white teapots and Stuff like that Um but what my dad did was after the Failure of the restaurant he then Started working for engineering Consulting firms in New York City Got a job with Public Service Electric And Gas which is the utility in northern New Jersey but at 55 first day of Eligible eligibility for early Retirement he was out the door and he Started a takeout restaurant in Madison

New Jersey the takeout just just as a Counter actually they turned it into a Restaurant he and my stepmom and they Then moved into a bigger place and so it Was a very it was he was doing exactly What he wanted to do which was to be a Restaurateur He bought a building in in Madison Sparked the Rejuvenation of the town Center and Um you know became a prominent person in Town so only in America does stuff like That happen Well because you've been close to Chinese and close to Americans is there Any way to describe the difference in The way Americans think and Chinese Think I know that's there's a lot of People involved but what would you say To that question Oh yeah um there are people who can Answer that question a lot better than I Do because the people have done all Sorts of studies about the way Chinese View for instance pictures Um and and the way that Americans view Them so you know I I Don't hold me to this but like if you Have a picture of an aquarium Um they say the Americans will see the Fish and the Chinese will see the water You know I don't know if that's true or Not Um but you know

I I think we we do think differently Um because we are Americans Um And we have a very different history Than than China does Um so we are much more individualistic Um we think ourselves willful and able To change things the Chinese Um I think to a large extent are a Little bit more collectivist not as much As people say Um because we're seeing actually in China some pretty individualistic Attitudes and and behavior but um you Know I think that Americans are are Certainly Um More Confident maybe about themselves Let me ask you about the atmosphere that We seem to be in now correct me if I'm Off base but we seem to be hearing Through the media And maybe even what you're saying from Time to time that we're headed to war With China And I look through the numbers and I want You to fill in the blank I look through The numbers just give you one example There are 800 American bases around the World A couple hundred thousand American Soldiers and Airmen and Navy

If I read correctly there's one base That belongs to the Chinese Outside of China That alone you just look at it and say Why are they such a threat And from your perspective what what is What do you see down the next 10 years Yeah I'm extremely concerned um because There's been an obvious breakdown in Deterrence and if you look at the Metrics the United States is a far more Powerful country than China Um whether you're talking about economy Size of military Technological advancements all of them You know are in our column but for um Xi Jinping the Chinese ruler I don't think It really matters because he believes That China is ascendant that the United States is in terminal Decline and that He can do what he wants And we don't really have to speculate Too much we can see like the trend of Chinese propaganda which tells us what Chinese leaders are thinking so for Instance after the chaotic withdrawal From Afghanistan that confirmed in the Mind of Xi Jinping that the United States was done And I think it also Um probably influenced Vladimir Putin Um you know President Biden was warning Russia not to invade Ukraine and matter Of fact you know when you look at

Talking about size and power and how That doesn't matter Um in 2021 The Coalition the members of the Coalition that were arrayed against Putin the United States 27 nations of The European Union in Great Britain in 2021 we collectively had an economy that Was 25.1 times larger than Russia's Overwhelmingly more powerful Um and yet we failed to deter Putin Because Putin didn't think any of that Was important he doesn't you know he Thinks National will is the critical Factor and I have to agree with it so he Was not deterred from invading Ukraine And we have seen very aggressive Chinese Behavior You know take the month of December Um there was the Chinese incursion into Arunachal Pradesh they have now started To reclaim islands in the um in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea That were uninhabited and which didn't Belong to China Um there had been pressure against the Philippines Um and all the while Um you know they they don't see an American pushback so I think that they Believe that we're not in a position to Stop them I'm not saying they're right Um but I'm saying that's their mentality And their mentality is extraordinarily

Dangerous and if you want to add some Other factors to this I think that Xi Jinping and I think Certainly people around him are starting To see a closing window of opportunity For China to accomplish historic goals You got the plunging property prices the Sector Contracting economy Falling currency worsening food Shortages deteriorating environment and These covid-19 outbreaks that are beyond Control so Um and then you have the demographic Crisis for China which uh you know China Is now 1.41 billion people Um two Chinese demographers last year Said that China will probably lose half Its population in 45 years if you do Some of the arithmetic on the total Fertility rate you know China could be One-third as populous at the end of this Century as it is now that has to affect The way Chinese leaders are viewing the Situation so you you see that they they Don't respect the U.S they realize They've got only so much time in which To act they believe you know this Imperial Chinese notion that they're the Only legitimate rulers in the world and You start putting all this together and You've got to worry one thing Brian Look I I don't know what's 100 I can't Tell you what's in season things mine But I can tell you what he's doing

He is engaged in the fastest military Buildup since the second world war he's Trying to sanction proof his regime and We saw a lot of these activities in the Second half of this year and he is Mobilizing China's civilians for war so I can see what he's doing Um and so I can see that we're not Preparing ourselves we have no sense of Urgency in the Oval Office or in the Pentagon This is an extraordinarily dangerous Situation But if you look at that part of the World there he China is surrounded by South Korea and Japan and we now have Troops in Australia We have 11 aircraft carriers they have Two Where I mean where what advantage do They have for going after Taiwan when For instance they send us 550 billion Dollars a year in Goods we only spend 150 billion going the other way Um they own a trillion dollars of our Debt what's what's advantage to them to To go after Taiwan what what did they do Once they get it Taiwan represents a critical threat to China People in Taiwan self-identify as Taiwanese about 80 percent self-identify As Taiwanese only Maybe somewhere and that number's been

Going up and the number that's been Going down is those who identify Themselves as Chinese only that's below Five percent these days but in China Itself they view the people in Taiwan as Chinese The core argument of the Communist Party Of China is that the Chinese people are Not ready to govern themselves and so Therefore they need this totalitarian State Well you can maintain that argument if You totally control all information Truman Show like But the point is the people in China Know what's going on in Taiwan they see A vibrant democracy they see a vigorous Economy they see a society that is Admired around the world this is a Critical threat to the most important Narrative of the Communist party which Means that they want to eliminate that They not only want to eliminate they Believe they have to eliminate that Um this is by the way the North Korea South Korea problem uh North Korea says Oh we're all Koreans but you know we can See a very prosperous South Korea and a Not prosperous North Korea well it's the Same thing And that means that it doesn't matter Whether they make a ton of money on Selling stuff the Chinese make a ton of Money and selling stuff to us or any of

This other stuff they need to eliminate Uh the the bad example of Taiwan So what happens though let's say they go To war and they got Taiwan and they lose Everybody around them they lose the United States they lose the Europeans What do they have then what's the Advantage Well if they think that they can um run Their society by themselves and Xi Jinping has actually been closing off China now for quite some time Um a continuation of policies in hujin Town but Xi Jinping has certainly Accelerated Um the severing of links they're Chinese They believe that you know Xi Jinping Believes that um the rest of the world Will come to terms with China and so um If you come with that mentality which is Evident from the things that he says and Does then you don't really care you can Weather it out Um and um so that's why I think we we You know we don't as I said 100 know What's in his mind but we can see the Things that he says and does and that Tells us that's the way he feels So Um he he does a number of things um if He takes Taiwan uh just a couple of them Um you know first of all uh he then has A reliable group to Surge his Navy and His Air Force into the Western Pacific

Um he um I think he takes down America As a global power because after the Catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan Um Taiwan has become the test of Credibility not just in the region but Around the world Um remember Um we had the Budapest memorandum Essentially we agreed to defend Ukraine's borders we didn't do that Um you know if they take Taiwan Um I think countries around the world Look at the US and say yeah they're Powerful they got a big military but They are totally useless as an ally you Know the the the phrase that people use Is that and this is a reversal of what The Marine Corps says you know it is Dangerous to be an American friend it is Very good to be America's enemy that's The way they think in Beijing I'm not Saying they're right I think they're Wrong but it doesn't matter what I think It matters what they think and they have This very dangerous attitude Um and I actually do think that they Would be right if they were to take Taiwan and show the United States is not Willing to defend its friends Moving off the topic of War for a moment There's several other things I want to Ask you about Confucius Institute if my Numbers are right there were in 100 Universities in the country they're now

Down to 18 they're going down even Farther what happened to the Confucius Institute and what was it Well Confucius institutes were funded by Essentially the united front work Department of the Communist party which Is the arm of the party which intent Which influences Um foreigners and um these were you know Basically pretty small units on college Campuses with a little bit of funding From nominally the central government of China but really from the Communist Party Um and um you know they're basically Teaching Chinese language a little bit Of Chinese culture but they had enormous Influence because a lot of universities Would not allow for instance criticism Of China because they were worried of Funding on not only the Confucius Institute but the flow of Chinese Students who are paying full tuition The numbers of Confucius institutes have Dropped dramatically the party is trying To Rebrand them to keep a presence on Campus but under a different moniker and In that regard they've been fairly Successful Um so this is a continual struggle but You know there's not only Confucius Institutes there are Confucius Classrooms in our secondary school and There are hundreds of those

I think in my hometown there's a great School that has a Confucius element to It Um I can't swear but I remember reading About it but in the end why would any School in the United States allow a Communist Party funded organization in I I have no idea uh Um you got to ask them that because this To me is a mystery but it I think it Probably has something to do with Wanting Chinese students on campus Paying full tuition There are they're down but there are 300 000 Chinese students in universities in This country today at least Uh what do you think of that and what Impact does that have Okay they were um before the pandemic There was about 387 390 000 um depending on the count I don't Know what it is today Um because the pandemic and because of Um restrictions that the U.S has placed On visas Um some of those restrictions I think Are absolutely necessary I mean we Should not allow anyone who's in the Chinese military to come into the U.S on A student visa which has been happening Um I I think this Chinese students are The most difficult issue at least for me To try to resolve Um because you know my dad was a Chinese

Student Um but I I do think though that uh you Know there we've seen these numbers About 13 of Chinese students on American Campuses engage in Espionage against the United States Um and that's an unacceptably large Number Um my Um sense the way to deal with this is First of all we've got to remember Chinese students they don't want to Commit Espionage they don't want to take Away First Amendment rights from other People but they basically are forced to Because they are closely monitored by Chinese Consular officials and Ministry Of State security agents Um and they um you know this is our Country why we allow Chinese diplomats And Agents to do this on our soil just is Beyond but we have allowed this Administration and administration out Republicans Democrats liberals Conservatives we've allowed the Chinese To violate our sovereignty so if you're A Chinese student Um and and someone from the Communist Party says um you know we're gonna we're Gonna coerce your parents throw them in Jail unless you steal Yeah of course they're going to steal Um but we're allowing this I think the

First thing to do is to to make sure That Um you know we we eliminate the ministry Of State security Agents from our Country toss them all out or jail them Or whatever we can find the diplomats Um to their counselor or their Embassy Locations we severely reduce the number Of them Um and then we figure out how things are Going with Chinese students and I think That there will be a substantial Improvement from our perspective and um You know we won't see these incidents on Campus where Chinese students Um you know run after the Tibetans or Run after whoever because this is this Is core American freedom on a core American institution you know colleges And universities Um we can't permit this so if we can't Stop that then we can't have Chinese Students in our country but I am I am Positive we can stop stop that because Chinese students they want to get an Education Um you know some of them I'm sure want To get out of China especially now Um so I think that this is a great pool Of of Americans and let's remember the Most patriotic Americans are not people Who are born here there are people like My dad and my wife who had to struggle Under really horrible circumstances at

Home who made a you know who sometimes In some cases risked their lives to get To the United States and and they Understand the value of freedom and and The right to govern oneself so Um you know I want Chinese students in Our country Um I just don't want them doing what They've been doing up to now because but As I said that's our fault I think not Theirs but do we have anything really to Worry about if we have an open Society Whether they're Chinese or Indian or Iranian or whatever I mean things are Wide open what are they going to really Learn that matters Well you know it's not what they learn Um and even what they learn and take Away Um that's that's okay too but you know Outright Espionage like downloading Um Um you know massive amounts of material Um some of which they have absolutely no Right to and then sending it back home That's a problem Um so that's that's what we're concerned About that's that 13 number that some People estimate Um but you know an open Society is very Important that's what made America Strong but it's also a weakness that the Communist Party exploits and so Um when our Republic is in Mortal danger

And I think that it is then we have got To take some steps to defend ourselves And unfortunately some of those steps Will require closing off parts of American society it's unfortunate but I Think that at this point it's necessary When things get better then we can relax And we can go back to The Way We Were Um but right now I think that we're in Real trouble What part of the world do you live in Normally I live in Bedminster New Jersey Um which is about an hour Southwest of New York City it is on the outer edge of The metropolitan area where I live I Don't think anybody or very few people Commute into New York though I think we Probably are Technically part of the metropolitan Area for statistical purposes Um And Um I we love it out there where did you You know Bedminster of course is is Known not for the home of Gordon Chang But it's known for Trump's golf course But that's the rich side of town And a few horses And Where where did you meet your wife I met my wife in Hong Kong Um I was a partner in Baker McKenzie at An American law firm

Um and uh she was she was an associate But I have to say that she was working For somebody else so it was not sexual Harassment And do you have children I've got a child from a prior marriage Um but Lydia and I do not And I know you're private about this but What kind of work does your child do how Old is your daughter and what kind of Work does she do My daughter is now 42. she lives in a sharmini in France Um she was a photographer still does a Little bit of that she teaches yoga Um she has she's a she has great Photographic talent but she doesn't have An interest in it which drives her Father insane because I wish I had one Tenth of her talent because I'd be a Photographer instead of a writer but be That as it may she's a great kid and Um you know I'm very proud of her though I wish you were a photographer Back to China and I'm looking for brief Explanations on a number of things try To get some insight when we hear about Uyghurs Where do they live What is the sensitivity around them And what did the Chinese government done To them The uyghurs are a turkic minority Um and they're the largest of the turkic

Minorities there's kha'zix and they're They're others they live In what Beijing calls the uyghur autonom The uyghur autonomous region which is The Northwestern part of the country Many uyghurs believe that they live in East turkistan which is a separate Country Um and that's because they were Conquered by Mao Zedong so it was an act Of force they were forcibly annexed into The People's Republic So in this in the xinjiang uyghur Autonomous region Um Beijing has been committing acts that Can constitute genocide as defined in The genocide Convention of 1948. that's The intentional elimination of a Minority consciousness Um and they're also committing crimes Against humanity there's the forcible Detention of somewhere between one and Three million Leaguers there's been Executions in those camps we know that Because China's built the crematorium Between two of those detention Facilities we know that there has been Rape of uyghur women as official policy There's torture imprisonment of children And forced labor which in some cases Approximates slavery and their child Labor and that's what we know about I'm Sure that there's been worse But this is

This is a stain on Humanity Coming to the next question in kind of An odd way but for years we had a lot of Stars Who were representing their concern About Tibet One why Two how many Tibetans are there And what's what's the the future of that Part of China Okay in the in the what Beijing calls The Tibetan autonomous region which is The Southwest part of the country it's Not only the tar as it's called it's Also Ching Hai Province and parts of Sichuan so it's a major portion of what Is now considered to be inside the People's Republic Tibet like East Turkestan was conquered by Mao Zedong 1950-1951 at the beginning of the People's Republic And Beijing has been without Mercy Um Um moving against the Tibetans trying to Eliminate Tibetan culture identity Religion Um and it has been horrific Tibet was Sort of like where China developed uh The means of control that are now being Applied in xinjiang East turkistan and Um it is a tragedy which is Um at you know one time did catch our Attention but now is is not and we have To remember that this is the way that

The People's Republic will deal with Others if it ever has the opportunity to Do it it's the you know the way they Treat their minorities is the best Indication of the way they'll deal with Non-chinese around the world You know it's interesting if you look Around all the controversial places Hong Kong around 7 million people to bat Around three and a half four million People uyghurs I don't know what the Total number is but you suggest one Between one and three million have been Persecuted up there and then taiwan's Only 25 million people and you're Talking about China with 1.4 billion why Do they care so much about these little Groups compared to the size of a country Like that The little groups are on the periphery Of China and the Chinese know that um You know they're China goes through Periods of expansion and contraction And I think that it's probably hit the Maximum level and it's now I think Having problems along its periphery And and that's part of the reason with Regard to Tibet the other reason is it Controls The High Ground with regard to India and controls the source of rivers That flow into Russia into you know the Yongsi flows through China Um and the rivers that flow through India and Southeast Asia so that's

That's important there xinjiang from a Geostrategic is important because that's Where you know the the road and the Railway connections between China and Central Asia go you know they got the Belton Road program Originally that was to connect China With Europe well the land Connections in Other words the belt portion of Belton Road Um all go through Saint John I have to admit that I used to think it Was Belton Road and of course I looked It up and you're saying belt and Road And that is a program I want to ask you About what is it how many places in the World are they doing what they're doing With belt and Road Yeah in 2013 in two separate speeches Xi Jinping announced The belt and then he announced the road The belt is Um the the roots to Europe through Central Asia the road is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that's the Roots that go through Um The Straits of Malacca India Um around Africa or through the Red Sea To Europe and now of course it's been Expanded about 135 countries have signed Belton Road memoranda though not all of Those I think have Dalton road projects But there's been a lot of them Um Belton Road has been extended Beyond

Just connecting China to Europe it's now The entire world they also got a space Belton Road so you know it's basically The universe Um and you know those guys aren't Kidding by the way Um you know 2018 uh China's space Officials started talking about the moon And Mars at Sovereign Chinese territory So you this is the most Um ambitious group of aggressors in History so but basically the Belton Road Is the Tie Um the con the world to China We know Relatively a lot about China and almost Nothing about India now that's me saying That just based on what you see on you Know in the media and all that I mean You can find out about Indy but you Don't have the same kind of romance Without you do with China why is that They're exactly the same size and Population one's a communist country the Other is a democracy help us out Yeah that's a great question and that's Another question of yours that I have no Answer to because India is endlessly Fascinating in its own right and Um the people who are endlessly Fascinated with India is a much smaller Subset of humanity than those who are Endlessly fascinated with China Um

I don't know you know it's it's Um We Americans for instance have I've Always been fascinated with China Um and I think part of it is because if We go back three four hundred years China really was a Wonder to behold and India was not Um and so Um maybe that's the origin of it but Each of these cultures is I I think just Uh exotic and and uh complex and as I Said fascinating You lived in China for a couple of Decades where did you live besides Hong Kong Okay I lived I lived I lived in Hong Kong for 10 Years 81 to 91. Um for the five years following I lived In San Diego but spent a good portion of My time in Hong Kong and in China and Then from August 96 to May 2001 we lived In Shanghai So Um But you know during that time was all Focused on on Asia I was practicing law Um then all except for the last year I Stopped practicing law as the 1999 Became 2000 I can remember going to a Big New Year's bash in Hong Kong and They were ticking off the end of the Century you know and while people were

Saying you know 1098 and thinking oh It's going to be a new century I was Thinking I got 10 seconds more left to Be a lawyer nine seconds left to be a Lawyer and Um when it became 2000 I became a writer Why'd you quit Um I quit because a couple things Um First of all Um I'd practice law for 25 years I had All the money I needed Um my daughter just decided not to go to An American University which meant she Wasn't requiring 80 000 a year Um she went to the London Institute in London which meant it cost me like Fifteen hundred dollars a year Um my wife and I don't really have Um big You know big requirements and I had Always since high school wanted to write A book this is there are a lot of Reasons why Um but the most important was I had always wanted to write a book but I had never anything to say When um we landed in China about three Months couple months afterwards I Realized I had something to say And I said I could practice law but then At that time I'd have to stop practicing At 65 and I wouldn't know what to do With myself if I didn't write the book

That I had in my head I knew that Somebody would and I knew that if Somebody wrote the book and not me then I would just be kicking myself for the Rest of my life so I had a perfect Opportunity Um and so I said I'm going to write the Book which became the coming collapse of China And the origin of it is when we arrived Lydia and I arrived in Shanghai in uh August 1996. I can remember Um Lydia getting on the phone and saying Mom China's not communist anymore And I agreed with her Um but as we worked in China as we Traveled around as we talked to people As we saw things We realized that China was Communist and Not only was it communist but it was Headed in the wrong direction So that's why I wrote the book you know I I can remember my clients coming you Know coming into Shanghai Um going to the Grand Hyatt in pudong Like one of the most spectacular hotels In the world And saying to me China is not communist Anymore So Um I thought that I had I had a view Which was certainly a distinctly Minority one you know certain Chinese in China were saying the same thing

Um but it was not a view that was held Outside China so as I said it's now or Never Um and um You know I look back and Um I'm glad I made that decision because You know as one grows older as I am one Realizes the value of time one realizes That you got to do what you think is Important and if you don't do it it just Creates so many problems so I can be 100 Wrong in My Views I can be an idiot A lot of people do call me an idiot but The point is that I'm doing what I think I should be doing and so therefore I Don't regret it whether people agree With me or not I'm doing what I think That I was put on this Earth to do Over the years I've seen you on CNN MSNBC Fox News have listened to you on The John Batchelor show senior columns That you've written Is there a different way that people Look at you today from a political Standpoint and they did say five or six Years ago before the Donald Trump Administration Yeah I don't think it's I've kept my views you know my my General orientation Um and at one time you know going back To George W bush Obama you know I was Considered Um just at one end of the spectrum or

Many people thought on the unacceptable End of one end of the spectrum Um but what's happened is Um that Spectrum has moved Um and the The notion of what's acceptable thought Has changed so Um that's not to say that I'm right Um but it is to say that um For various reasons which have to do More with the Johnson who Jintao Xi Jinping Um I've become Less unacceptable When was the last time you're in China November well the last time I was in the People's Republic of China like Mainland Um was November 2013. I gave a talk to a Convention of lawyers and after that I Decided it was too dangerous to go to China the last time that I was in Hong Kong Um was August 2019 And after that I thought it was too Dangerous to go to even Hong Kong and Dangerous for what reason Um because Um there's a clamp down in Hong Kong and Some people say that the room for Acceptable political thought in Hong Kong is narrower than it is in mainland China Which I actually think is right Um so

Um you know in Hong Kong right now I'd Probably be prosecuted under the National Security Law which Beijing Imposed on Hong Kong so Um I'd prefer probably not to live the Rest of my life in a Chinese jail Can you help us understand What covid has meant to China and how They've handled it in the last three Years How many hours do I have 16. go on go after it okay I mean we Don't really understand what's going on Inside can you help us understand from What your perspective is Well at this moment Um the Chinese people by and large have No immunity to the Omicron variants of Covid-19 and it is ripping through China Um estimates from virologists an Epidemiologists are basically that's 60 Percent maybe of the Chinese people will Get covid this winter we're talking 800 Million to 1.1 billion infections maybe One to two million deaths Um you know we don't know whether it be That severe but the point is that Chinese people right now have no Immunity to it Um and or very little immunity to it Because the two Chinese primary vaccines Cynopharm and synovac Um they're they're not very they were Never very effective to start out with

And they don't really protect people Against Omicron so that's why it's Ripping through China what's happened is From the very beginning of the disease Beijing has tried to use this as a Propaganda tool what they were saying Was that their ability to control Infections and deaths proved the Superiority of Chinese communism over Democracy in general and American Democracy in particular so they were Going for zero covet Um I mean that meant trying to prevent Any transmission of the disease at all At the same time they were not willing To import the effective mRNA vaccines From Pfizer and moderna because that Would be an admission I think the reason Why they wouldn't do it was they had the Money they just felt I think that would Be an admission of the superiority of Western technology and that was Completely unacceptable so it's been a Propaganda tool but what's happened Recently starting from November 13th I think it was and then Ending um this month it had been a Series of proclamations directives Orders that relaxed zero covet now zero Covet is a practical matter no longer Exists and and people say this the Policy change Brian but I think that it Actually is a capitulation that the Policy just failed

Um the World Health Organization says That the relaxation of Chinese Disease Control measures did not lead to this Surge in disease they thought it started Beforehand I think that's right I think That Xi Jinping who is the author of Xerokovic just realized it was it was a Failure but there's a couple other Things that don't really get talked About Of course there was the extraordinary Protests that we just discussed the Chinese people said we're not having it But more important I think that the low The the localities which were forced to Pay for zero covid measures like Constant testing trait contact tracing Quarantines they just ran out of money To do it and also zero covid was Crippling the Chinese economy and the Numbers that we are getting for November Are just disastrous for the Chinese Economy even official numbers so I I Think that they just threw up their Hands and they realized that they could No longer maintain this and they're now Just letting it rip you know as people Have said Um in the United States we tried to Flatten the curve in China they're Compressing the curve and we're going to See how it works So what during these three years have Their manufacturing system continued

When they're we're working to zero covet Um zero covid has Um put crimps into Chinese manufacturing And the supply chain Um there were um you know Export-oriented factories or maybe Operating some of them at 30 percent of Capacity some more Um but you know we've seen the shutdowns Of Um you know the big plants what also was More important maybe was Logistics you Know they closed the big container ports For a little while in places like Shanghai and Ningbo but really the main Problem were truckers because truckers To get to the ports had to pass through Numerous coven checkpoints and a Positive test at those checkpoints would Have meant that they would have been Quarantined for weeks far away from home So a lot of truckers just took Themselves Um and decided to stay home and and that Has certainly affected Supply chains Um and we're seeing some of that right Now as well because of the most recent Surge Um but that was just one of the factors That I think convinced a lot of Companies that they had to make their Supply chains more resilient in other Words to develop alternative sources of Supply and even Apple which has the most

Difficult to move Supply chains has been Reducing its manufacturing footprint in China because they I think they've had No choice I mean these covid protests Actually started in Foxconn facility in Chengzhou in central China it's called IPhone City Made makes more than half the world's IPhones but workers just you know Starting end of October just started Climbing over this fences just getting Out of the place running through the Fields And that was that was the first sign That the Chinese people were just not Going to accept zero covet anymore and What was really fascinating Brian was Not that the workers were scrambling Over the walls it was that the people Around the facility were helping the Workers flee so you had truckers you had People in the communities and and the People who were helping the workers flee Were doing so at Great risk to Themselves so that was a real indication That Chinese Society decided that it was Going to turn its back on zero covet After building tremendous Housing developments apartment buildings Today how many of those apartments are Empty Um Probably more than half The the the factor that is important the

The reason why most of them are empty is Because the owners have wanted to keep Them empty even in a time of rising Sharply Rising property prices these Apartments were empty and they were Empty because the Chinese people were Considering them to be stores of value So if you can't export your money out of The country and they can't uh readily Um they have to they can go into the Stock market which many of them don't Want to be there Um but really the the main way of Storing value was buying vacant Apartments and they would not rent them Out because renting them out would Reduce the value of the apartment so Right now something like 70 percent of The wealth of middle-class Chinese are Tied up in vacant apartments in property And so this is what's so it's important Here is that starting the first six Months of this year we saw property Declines value declines 25 30 percent Year on year but as important sales just Plummeted as well by similar figures so And that's continued on the second half Of this year as you can imagine And it really means that the Chinese People aren't very happy right now Because these apartments are they're Their main source of wealth are Declining in value I'm gonna let you go soon a couple uh

Other questions Richard Nixon's opening to China good or Bad Good at the time Um people forget Um critics of the regime like me forget That we were in a very difficult time in The 1970s and it was important to wean Away the Chinese from the Soviets and so The end of the Cold War ended up two Against one Your opinion on whether or not we will Be in a fighting War at some point with China And what do you think the American People's reaction will be if they're Sons and daughters are sent over to Defend Taiwan Um I actually think the probability of war Is High Um I think it's high because China's Preparing for war the regime sees a Closing window of opportunity Siegen Ping is arrogant and we Americans are Acting like Um you know people in democracies before Great Wars we're just trying to do Everything possible to avoid it and Thereby we are emboldening the worst Actors in the International System So I I see that there's Terrible times ahead I hope it's not True

Um but you remember we're we're Americans Um and so we believe that we're entitled To be oblivious to what our enemies say You know Um the terrorists killed six people in February 1993 by detonating a bomb in Below the North Tower of the World Trade Center We didn't care we didn't care until 9 11 When Um Osama had been allowed and killed two Thousand what 799 Americans something like that Um We just believe that we're entitled to Be oblivious and so we don't pay Attention to what our enemies did that's Why we have December 7th 1941 that's why We have September 11 2001 because we Were not paying attention to what our Enemies are saying and the reason why I Say that is because we're not paying Attention to what the Chinese are now Saying they declared a people's War Quote unquote on us in May 2019. Um that's important Um we Americans don't know about that But the Chinese believe that way Second part of that what will be the Reaction in this country if our sons and Daughters are sent over there to fight To protect Taiwan I don't know

Um I also don't think that anyone knows Remember in 1950 Dean Atchison Secretary Of State one of the great secretaries of State uh in our history publicly Drew America's Western defense perimeter to Not include South Korea up until that Time Kim o sung the leader of North Korea could not get either Joseph Stalin Or Mao Zedong to give him the green Light to invade South Korea because both Stalin and Mao said you're gonna have to Fight the Americans and we're not Prepared to do that now So what happens they hear Dean Atchison Kim Wilson gets the green light and what Do we do within hours Truman sends American troops to defend South Korea 1950 people say oh that's a long time Ago well let's go to 1990. 1990 April Glaspy our ambassador to Iraq has a Conversation with Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein asks the question What will happen what will your reaction Be if I invade Kuwait he didn't put it In quite those terms but that's what he Was saying April glaspy acting on the Instructions of I think it was James Baker's Secretary of State said Something like this Um and this is almost a direct quote we Americans have no interest in the Settlement of intra-arab disputes Saddam Hussein obviously took that as a Green light eight days later he invades

Kuwait what do we Americans do We defend Kuwait So what will happen with regard to Taiwan you know Biden can say you know We're not going to defend Taiwan he Doesn't say that by the way he says we Will but Biden can say he could come out And say we're not going to defend Taiwan XI Japan could take that as a green Light and will probably end up defending Taiwan Um I don't know what Americans will say but Um this is going to be one of those Times where I think that even we Americans will realize that this is not A war in Taiwan this is a war against The United States final a couple Questions where can someone who is Interested in either reading or Listening to or watching Gordon Chang Find you on a regular basis Well on an irregular basis at suspect Um I tweet at Gordon G Chang G-o-r-d-o-n-g-c-h-a-n-g and I archive my Articles for free at my website Www.gordanchang.com And how often do you appear on the John Batchelor show as the co-host Twice a week Um on Mondays for two segments on Wednesdays for four segments Um some and John Batchelor is one of the The great uh great radio hosts so I'm

Very privileged to be able to do that And he is based in New York and you can Hear him I think we can hear him here in Washington I don't know how many other Cities do you know Um since he moved over to CBS I don't Know the specific answer when he was at Uh cumulus which was basically the ABC Network it was about 140 stations Um most the people who listened to Bachelor Um do so on his podcast yeah which is he Takes his CBS Um segments any podcasts and that's Where most people hear them Gordon Chang thank you very much for all This time Well thank you so much I really Appreciate the opportunity Thanks for listening to the book notes Plus podcast please rate and review book Notes plus and don't forget to follow so You never miss an episode Questions or comments we would love to Hear from you you can email us at Podcasts at C hyphenspan.org [Music]