“We could not have been more wrong, and this miscalculation was the biggest failure of American foreign policy since the 1930s,” he said.
In the context of a new book by his predecessor John Bolton claiming that Trump said he did not care about the Tiananmen Square crackdown and that he did not want a White House statement commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1989 massacre, said O ‘ Brien in his speech: “We belittle the serious human rights abuses in China, including Tiananmen Square.”
The comments from the national security adviser are the first in a series of speeches that senior Trump administration officials are making about China in the coming weeks. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray will also address the issue.
His speech, delivered in the swinging state of Arizona, where Trump follows Joe Biden in polls, also comes as Republicans seek to portray the former vice president as gentle on China. That effort has been undermined by the accusation in Bolton’s book that Trump explicitly asked Xi for help in winning reelection, a charge the president’s team has denied.
O’Brien’s radical indictment of the Chinese government is the latest example that the president’s aides go beyond their boss by viewing China as a comprehensive danger to the United States. Trump has tended to describe the threat from China in more restricted economic terms as he seeks to remedy what he says is Beijing’s unfair trade practices.
Deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who covered China, and the Asia team from the NSC helped write the speech, which has been in progress for weeks, according to an administration official. The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on O’Brien’s comments.
While Trump often praised Xi as a great leader, O’Brien condemned his government as authoritarian and dangerous. During the first three months of this year, the Chinese government has accused nearly 500 Chinese citizens of speaking about the coronavirus, which in O’Brien’s speech called the “Wuhan virus” multiple times.
O’Brien warned that Beijing’s evil influence extends deep into American politics and society. People in more than a dozen American cities hear “subtle propaganda for Beijing” on FM radio stations, he said, telling the story of how a US soldier and his family in Maryland needed a security detail to protect them from death threats after Chinese disinformation. He convinced some Americans that the soldier had originally brought the coronavirus to Wuhan.
While Bolton’s book, where O’Brien is not even mentioned, said that Trump told Xi to proceed to build concentration camps for the Uighurs, O’Brien condemned the Chinese government for doing exactly that.
“He locks up millions of Muslim Uighurs and other minorities in re-education camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination and forced labor, while their children are raised in orphanages run by the party,” he said. “This process annihilates the family, religion, culture, language and heritage.”
O’Brien tried to disillusion Americans with the notion that they are out of Beijing’s reach, saying that the Chinese Communist Party seeks to “control thought beyond China’s borders” and attack and blackmail people into serving them. to the interests of the party.
“This is ‘micro targeting’ beyond an advertiser’s wildest dreams,” he said. “China, unlike advertisers, will not be stopped by government regulations. The Chinese Communist Party simply wants to know everything about you, just as it knows almost everything about Chinese citizens. “
As proof of that, he reported that the Chinese hacked Anthem’s insurance to get information on 80 million Americans, hacked the Office of Personnel Management to get data on the 20 million US government employees, hacked the credit rating agency Equifax. and they hacked Marriott hotels for information on millions of guests. A Chinese company in 2016 even bought the gay dating app Grindr to get its data before the US government. USA It will force the company to get rid of the application for national security reasons.
O’Brien praised Trump and the administration for taking “decisive steps” to counter Beijing by banning Chinese companies closely tied to the government’s national security apparatus, such as the telecommunications giant Huawei, from accessing the personal data of Americans. He also praised the administration’s measures to enact export and travel restrictions to Chinese government entities, companies, and certain officials who are helping to crack down on Uyghurs and other minorities.
The State Department recently cracked down on Chinese journalists in the United States, to which Beijing responded by expelling journalists working for the US media. O’Brien hinted that more steps would soon be taken to counter China, although he did not specify what or when.
With China moving to dramatically reduce Hong Kong’s political autonomy, the Trump administration is in the process of deciding how to respond appropriately and how to avoid harming ordinary Hong Kong people, who have protested in large numbers against the increasing invasion of their freedom. of expression and meeting.
O’Brien emphasized that his criticism of the Chinese government does not extend to the regular Chinese.
“We have deep respect and admiration for the Chinese people,” he said. “The United States has a long history of friendship with the Chinese nation. But the Chinese Communist Party is not the same as China or its people. “