Paypal co-founder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel spared no punches in who he cites for helping China’s rapid economic and military expansion. He says that U.S. technology companies bear some of the blame for helping fuel Beijing’s global achievements.
“There’s something about the woke politics inside these companies, the way they think of themselves as not really American companies. And it’s somehow very, very difficult for them to have a sharp anti-China edge whatsoever,” he says.
Theil named Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple in his assessment that American corporate culture has turned a blind eye to the communist country’s human rights abuses, trade infractions and threat at the expense of the U.S.
“If China is able to just catch up, there is a way in which it will become a more powerful country,” warned Thiel. “You’ll have four times the GDP, and maybe four times the military, and it will be the dominant power. Parity means the West is losing.”
Theil spoke at the April gathering of the Nixon Seminar on Conservative Realism and National Security, a monthly gathering of foreign affairs experts who analyze U.S. foreign policy. The programs are available on-line for members of the Nixon Foundation and is based at the Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.
“I had a set of conversations with some of the Google people in the deep mind AI technology, ‘is your AI being used to run the concentration camps in Xinjian?’ And ‘Well, we don’t know and we don’t ask any questions.’ You have this almost magical thinking that by pretending everything is fine, that’s how you engage and have a conversation. And you make the world better. And it’s some combination of wishful thinking. It’s useful idiots, you know, it’s CCP fifth columnist collaborators,” Thiel said.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Nixon Seminar co-chair, is blunt in his assessment. He says that the Chinese Communist party’s attempt is “to dominate the world.”
“In 2019 the Chinese launched more missiles than the rest of the world combined,” he says. “They just have the resources. The scale of what they’re doing to work to put up the right satellites. To work to make sure they have capacity is staggering and they are moving very quickly.”
Experts have been alarmed at the rate of China’s expansion, securing economic ties with countries around the globe that Beijing then uses to leverage global power for its interests. The Associated Press recently noted that “China’s Belt and Road Initiative is building ports, railways and other infrastructure across not just Asia but also Africa and elsewhere in the developing world … and is viewed by the West as a gambit to increase Chinese influence overseas.”
President Nixon’s grandson, Christopher Nixon Cox, asked how Washington would be able to determine if the U.S. remains dominate and in the end, triumph over Beijing as was clear when the Cold War ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“What will determine if we won or lost?”
Former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, a Nixon Seminar co-chair, pointed to the success of the recent crackdown on Chinese influence in U.S. higher education and the Trump administration’s efforts at stopping more U.S. investments in China, as specific measures of U.S. policy successes.
“If we can cut off the flow of investment and limit the overt influences… I think those are two benchmarks that the Biden administration has a chance to gain some traction on and show that we are going to stand up to the Chinese.”
‘In the end, Xi Jinping is afraid of liberty and sovereignty and rules-based order. It’s his enemy,” says Pompeo.
“We will know who wins this by which ideas dominate the next 10, 20, 40 years. Are they a set of Western ideas or are they a set of understandings that flow from the authoritarian regime in China?”
Ben Evansky contributed to this report.