Inside Communist China’s Takeover of Hollywood—Film Exec Chris Fenton | American Thought Leaders

one of the things that China was extremely strict on us about was if if you’re gonna have access to this market and you’re gonna have access to market and promote this movie far beyond most movies you need to shoot the movie here you know and not all of it but parts of it and you need to have what they call first unit people over which means having Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey jr. and having our director over there and showcasing the movie by shooting it you know so many days in that market and having a certain amount of the movie take place in China and the final cut just what does it take to get a Hollywood film screened in communist China how is the Chinese regime subverted Hollywood into its propaganda apparatus and why did a self-proclaimed globalist who managed to get Iron Man 3 screened in Beijing Forbidden City have a change of heart and realized he was pandering to China’s Communist Party in this episode we sit down with film producer and media executive Chris Benton has worked on blockbuster films like Iron Man 3 Point Break and looper he is the author of the book feeding the dragon this is American thought-leaders and I’m Yannick Alec Chris Fenton such a pleasure to have you on American thought-leaders thank you for having me it’s an honor you have been as I call it in the belly of the beast you’ve been in Hollywood and part of your job has been to get Hollywood movies into Communist China you actually got Iron Man 3 if I recall correctly premiered in the Forbidden City which is I think the first of that sort of thing ever happening remarkable and you also have had some introspection around your role and how this whole thing worked it’s an amazing story you write about it and feeding the dragon your book but let’s talk about this getting Iron Man 3 premiered in the Forbidden City and what did it take to actually make that happen well it’s a it’s a very colorful journey over of over a couple years of being involved with with Marvel and Disney and all the filmmakers involved with that film it started around late in 2011 and we released the movie in April of 2013 the the process of getting it into China the process of getting the the approval to do the the premiere in the Forbidden City obviously took a village it wasn’t just me involved there were a lot of Chinese faces involved in that process we had a very large infrastructure in Beijing and where I came into play was as the conduit between the two countries there were a lot of directives that were given by the Chinese government to our company and then it was the company that would then translate them to me and then I would have to find a way to make it tolerable to our partners here in the United States and in regards to the kinds of things we needed to supply and and the kind of efforts we needed to give in order to get government approval for Ironman 3 both as as a form of content to release theatrically there but then also as a form of content or a product or service that we were marketing to their people so we talked about it a little bit yesterday in regards to China there’s two entities you have to sell to their number one is you need to sell your product or service to the Chinese government and you need to portrayed in a way that the Chinese government feels that it benefits them and their populace to allow you access to their market and then you’re allowed to then sell that product and service to their consumer you’re allowed access to that massive market in between that is the narrative that needs to be approved how are you gonna market your product or service to that consumer how are they going to digest what you’re saying to them how does the government look at the way that you’re approaching that marketing and promotion of that product and service in regards to their overall agenda which brings us back to the Forbidden City and the Forbidden City is the center of a Beijing and the center of China is Beijing in fact I like to say that China is the same size is really the

continental United States from one side on the east to the west yet there’s one timezone in China and that timezone is whatever time it is in Beijing and the center of Beijing is a Forbidden City so when we really wanted to portray the importance of what the collaboration was in making this massive tentpole movie between the US and China the best way to showcase that we felt was in the most revered part of China and to showcase it with the star of that movie who was Robert Downey jr. who we brought over and we did the first-ever full-blown you know premiere spectacle that not only was a premiere in in the realm of what we typically think of in terms of Hollywood is concern but we also broadcast it nationally across the country so the idea was to say hey us-china collaboration was done on this film it should be supported by the Chinese government and the Chinese consumer should consume it because you’re just as much a part of this movie as the United States was and that was the first well so this is interesting because basically you know for the for those viewers that might at this point it not be obvious to by doing this premiere they’re basically saying the Chinese Communist Party is fully behind this film that’s the message and of course for you guys at the time that was a great marketing message right correct and not only that when when it’s obvious that the Chinese government is behind something that’s foreign suddenly you see a lot of other wind to your back for instance our offices were near a they were in inside the second and third Ring Road in Beijing and we were close to a mall called you town and inside you town there was a pirated Marvel store where Marvel merchandise was sold without any of that monetization being shared by Marvel headquarters back in the United States but when we started marketing and showcasing the fact that Iron Man 3 was coming and when the the populace started to realize that the government was behind us in supporting that endeavor suddenly that pirated store disappeared just disappeared and when you went to the silk market or some of the pirated stores where you could go buy some really interesting looking Marvel paraphernalia that was slightly off but you could still find an Iron Man figurine or a different t-shirt or whatever all those disappeared too because the populace knew that the government was behind supporting this foreign IP this intellectual property and you didn’t want to get caught selling something that was supported by the government now interesting you know so you know this is about as validated as you could be by the Chinese Communist Party and probably a lot of our viewers are wondering why the heck you’re sitting across from me right now but no I mean it’s very interesting I mean you were full on you know believing globalist so to speak believing in the idea but then something changed along the way right and I don’t want to forget to talk about you know how you actually got through the censorship regime let’s let’s make sure we mention that but but but this piece about how what how did your thinking shift it was really after a congressional delegation trip which I co-hosted with the US Asia Institute which by the way I’m not speaking on behalf of here but it’s a fantastic organization but we had just gotten back in early September from taking three congressional members over to China we we met with Carrie Lam and the protesters in Hong Kong and we also went up to Beijing and xi’an and chengdu and during that process i was also writing the book and i decided to finish the book with an afterword that brought most of the story that ends in mid-2013 with Iron Man 3 opening and breaking every record bringing it into the current day and the smell of pepper spray and you know sort of my thoughts on where the us-china relationship was and I was about to turn in that book and then in October Daryl Morey tweeted out his support for Hong Kong protesters daryl morey the Houston Rockets GM and I saw that I was standing next to another soccer dad on the side of a field watching my son play and I said wow that’s gonna be a really interesting dilemma or problem for NBA in China and he said well why is that and I said well

because yeah Ming really made the Houston Rockets the branded team and in China and I can guarantee the CCP has noticed this tweet and I was right but I didn’t know and what I’d never even thought of through that moment and 20 years prior was the fact that it woke up the majority of Americans to what was going on between US and China when it came to the capitalistic endeavors that we were pursuing and that was this pandering to the CCP in order to get access to that super lucrative market and that was the moment where I looked at it and looked at the book and I said oh my gosh like I was part of the problem that now everybody’s aware of I need to relook at what I wrote and figure out how to implement certain thoughts throughout the book that make it more timely and more self-aware of what actually happened and that’s why I’m sitting here today there’s a lot to talk about in that that subject matter but you asked the question right no of course so let’s let’s talk about the pandering and clearly there was quite a bit of pandering that would be required to get through the censors and to make it so that the Chinese Communist Party is I guess not just accepting but kind of thrilled with the message that a film’s gonna have right especially to be you know validated at the top and the Forbidden City yeah well 100 percent is so you know there’s there’s different sorts of when you’re looking at mood the movie business itself there’s different sorts of ways that we can you know look at pandering for instance there’s the premeditated self censorship where you know you want the movie to play in the two largest markets in the world and make money and that’s the United States and China so you obviously want to make a movie that’s gonna play to both of those markets so part of that might entail maybe not making a movie about China winning a huge soccer game and the Olympics against the Americans and hoping that that movie plays in America well the same reason why you might avoid having Chinese villains in a movie you know that you want to have work in China so there’s the premeditated thought of well in this script is this gonna make it a better movie for both of those more it’s because quite frankly if you get it to work in both of those markets it will work in every other market it’s the toughest Venn diagram to find that concentric circle with but if you make it work it’s magical around the world so premeditated censorship is one and that’s one where I think it’s going to be very difficult to you know mitigate because people are always thinking about that in fact you want it to work in Germany – so you’re gonna think about things that aren’t going to be insulting to that consumer and Argentina and and elsewhere so that’s one aspect of it but another aspect involves the the post-production aspect of of censoring content that suddenly does offend the CCP and they tell you you need to change it and the most current example of that has been what senator Ted Cruz is brought to life which is this top gun movie that’s coming out shortly where Tom Cruise is wearing a flight jacket and it happens to have the Taiwanese flag on the back of it and Paramount Studios wanting the movie to work in China has removed it but on top of it like we saw with the NBA in the Daryl Morey tweet they’re censorship the CCP censorship is not just about their own market it’s about how they’re portrayed around the world mm-hmm so when daryl morey said something off of their soil by the way he was probably in Houston Texas when a tweet tweeted that out the CCP not only punished you know it not only said hey we have a problem with that but they also said we have such a big problem with that then we’re gonna ban not just the Houston Rockets from being shown in art market we’re gonna ban the whole NBA and you look at that and you go we’ll wait a minute that’s that’s censorship Beyond Borders right he said that not while he was on their soil and not to a Chinese you know platform he said it on Twitter in a country that’s actually has freedom of speech the same principle could be looked at where it’s cross-border censorship with top gun’ paramount didn’t just remove the flag from what’s going to be seen in China they removed it from the jacket that’s going to be shown around the world so China CPC she is actually exuding their influence with soft power beyond their borders and telling our companies what they can and can’t show to the rest of the world give me an example with this film specifically if you can if you’re if you’re able to of some of the things you

needed to do you’re talking about Iron Man 3 sure well what was what was great about telling the story about Iron Man 3 is that the the filmmakers at marble actually behaved and and handled situations I think in the way that a lot of company heads should moving forward which was they never were looking at how do we make how do we change this movie in order to make more money in China it was always about if we do this doesn’t make the movie better does it protect the brand will make our fans who have built this brand over 50 60 years happy with how it’s in how it’s implemented and will it allow the rest of the world to feel good that this movies the best quality movie that can be made and Kevin Feige was the one running Marvel he still does he’s a tremendous filmmaker but he never said when we would give him an idea he’d be like well how much more money is that going to make us in China whereas unfortunately I think a lot of other management of other companies and other industries that question so to answer that question there were many in the in the book I actually get into a bunch of different debates we had with Marvel about things that we wanted to implement into the movie one of the things that China was extremely strict on us about was if if you’re gonna have access to this market and you’re gonna have access to market and promote this movie far beyond most movies you need to shoot the movie here you know and not all of it but parts of it and you need to have what they call first unit people over which means having Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey jr and having our director over there and showcasing the movie shooting it you know so many days in that market and having a certain amount of the movie take place in China and the final cut unfortunately what happened and I don’t want to give too much away but we had Robert Downey jr. got hurt in that production so we lost a lot of potential shooting days that we could have done in China so we ended up shooting just second unit material in the market and we did certain things that you know would the CCP’s you know guidance to try to showcase the amount of moviemaking we were doing in that market and the amount of people that we were hiring with those second unit shots that were Chinese and the amount of skill set in exchange that we were doing to help them build their own film industry right because remember that CCP is about how do we govern 1.4 billion people and keep them just happy enough that they don’t revolt right you can’t make them all happy there’s not enough resources on earth so how do you keep them just happy enough that they don’t revolt and part of that is giving them all of what they need and some of what they want but another big part of that is also ability in their middle class and how do you build their middle class well you create industries that hire skilled labor and the film industry is one of them so every time we did a movie that we wanted to monetize that market with we would have to find ways to bring in Chinese below-the-line crews above the line talent into the process not only so that they could be showcased in the movies themselves but also so that they could learn the filmmaking process and learn the talents in the exchange and and the skill set that Hollywood has essentially honed over the last hundred years and for the government to see us do that that type of exchange they knew they had an argument within themselves and also one they could give to the populace of hey we’re supporting this movie because China was involved in making it and China is getting better at building the film in this jury into a world-class film industry which is going to create middle-class jobs for you because of efforts like this so that’s why we’re supporting this movie how important is Hollywood our Hollywood films or Hollywood involvement in China in the Chinese Communist Party soft power operation well it’s one of the devices for sure the the beauty of filmmaking and and the the storytelling that’s involved is that you can implement interesting messaging that’s completely disguised by a fun entertaining story so when you look at even a Johnny Depp movie that we did I was trying to think of interesting films that we had done where you you implement certain things that that fall in line

with the CCP directive but there’s the opening of that film transcendence which we did which was not a successful film at all it did pretty well in China was involved Johnny Depp as a as a as a professor who’s working on nanotechnology and he doesn’t want to be spied on so he puts himself in this strange Hut that has white copper wires around it and in that Hut you know he you can’t a compass doesn’t work can’t find the north or the south and there’s a comment in there about how you know Europe created the the compass and whatever it was sixteen hundred or something and I remember from my engineer he decreed that there was something about the compass that had to do with China so I did some research and I found out you know actually there was this guy shen kuo who created the some apparatus that could figure out the poles and it was in like 1000 AD way before the West ever came across it so we actually found one of his original books and we put it in the opening scene of transcendence we actually had to go to the archives at usc’s library to find it but we put it in there in the props so that we could showcase the fact that China was a part of some of the early scientific discoveries of the world right Point Break is another one right where we did the remake and there was a scene in that movie where we were gonna open up the film with a cold open which is always that high action sort of impact three minutes that gets you right into the movie and it was going to take place in Shanghai and it was going to take place in a building way up like on the top floor of one of those massive buildings in the pudong district and it was a diamond the diamond store or a diamond showcase Center and these motorcycles were driving through they got on the elevator and they started taking all the diamonds and then they drove out the building up on the hundredth floor and they had parachutes and they were supposed to take the diamonds with them but because they’re sort of Robin Hood characters they were gonna spread the diamonds all over you know the city from the air and then all the Chinese were supposed to pick up the diamonds because the Robin Hood effort you know won over the rich diamond dealers or whatever but the Chinese government said you can’t do that I was gonna say this I am sure that one didn’t go over very very well I said well number one is our police would have caught them and number two is the Chinese people would not pick up diamonds that weren’t theirs so this does not make sense right so it’s interesting when you’re thinking about plot points on how you need to create either windy or back or avoid the obstacles ahead and now Hollywood is super coherent or super you know cognizant of that fact and you know it’s partially good business but it’s also partially not American values and and and interests that we should be protecting as a nation so you know what what is the most outrageous thing that you can think of that censors demanded of you and your China film facilitating career well we did a movie with Bruce Willis and Joseph gordon-levitt called looper which is another sort of story I tell in the book and what was interesting about that is that the the movie takes place it both in sort of the present-day maybe five or ten years in the future and then 40 years beyond that and Joseph gordon-levitt who’s a young actor plays the present-day version of a character that Bruce Willis plays forty years in the future and the original script took the the current day which was done in the middle America and then in the future it was going to take place in France because that character when he retired from his gangster sort of career he was going to move to France hmm we ultimately decided let’s move him to China in the future but what’s interesting about China is that the CCP does not like time travel in fact it’s banned from showcasing in movies or in various storytelling especially from the West and part of that is they want to control the narrative of where the future is going and then anything historical they want to control the way the history is told so what we did in order to say to China hey we think this movie could make money from your consumer we think your consumer likes these kind of movies and it does have the future involved which we know is a censored item so what we want to do is work with you to figure out what you want your future to look like and we’ll put it in the movie so we worked with

the Shanghai Municipal Government – which is where the Shanghai locations took her they China locations took place and we said what do you want your skyline to look like 40 years in the future and we created all kinds of different designs and they would pick some and then they come up with some others or they’d have plans for you know ones they wanted to build or whatever and then we would work with the the CGI you know post-production people and design those buildings so that when we actually shot the film we created the skyline that the Shanghai government wanted there in 40 years and that allowed the CCP to go oh wait a minute even though this takes place in the future which we don’t like from Hollywood and it actually has some criminal elements and there was drug use other stuff that’s censored they’re also showcasing the fact that in the future this Joseph gordon-levitt character who becomes Bruce Willis wanted to go there versus anywhere else in the world because that’s the best place to live and then on top of it the movie created the backdrop of what we’ve ish we envision Shanghai to be the center of the world the most beautiful sophisticated technology advanced city on earth that’s what the movie showcasing so why wouldn’t we let this in why wouldn’t we want the public to see it here in China and by the way we want the rest the world to see it too and the rest of the world did it made a lot of money it was a very successful film and you know frankly it never occurred to me that this was a very subversive piece of Chinese Communist Party propaganda I’ve seen it you know oh you saw a looper yeah absolutely it’s a good little movie and I remember that it was didn’t end up in France I remembered in China that part didn’t occur to me but I bet it occurred to a lot of I bet the China China element really occurred to a lot of the people in the Chinese market that we’re watching it they loved it yeah they loved it and I’ll tell you right now the person in Indiana or the person in Brazil or the person in Germany didn’t even notice the fact that there was a little bit of soft power that they digested from the CCP in that movie because the movie was entertaining and engaged them that’s that was that’s the brilliance of moviemaking in regards to the ability for soft power to seep into any market and that’s also a reason why I feel like it’s important for us to keep this exchange going between the US and China because we can use it to our advantage too so Chris so far as we’re sitting here I’m not even a hundred percent sure if you’re advocating for this Hollywood relationship or you know it’s it’s almost like you have some kind of mixed feelings here but I know as a fact and this is in an article that you published recently a Hollywood ending for the coming us-china de Bourgh you are advocating for divorce and tell me why well it’s a it’s a complicated answer so only try to be concise with it we have definitely the rampant globalism which I was a part of for 15 years compromised a lot of American interests and it had repercussions down the road that none of us involved with saw coming so one of the things that I’m trying to bring to light is the fact that we did a lot of stuff to pander to get into that market we did a lot of things that were much more beneficial to the Chinese than they were to Americans to get access to that market and we were very beholden to investors and shareholders that were pressuring us to get that market open as much as possible to us goods and services and we were successful at it but the long-term ramifications for America were not great and we cut to today where the Trump administration has definitely brought to light the fact that we have an unbalanced relationship with China and it needs to change I feel like the the effort that he’s brought for to make us all aware of it is fantastic there’s been a lot of mistakes made along the way by various parts of our leadership where we haven’t been quite as effective and changing it but that’s okay as long as we’re aware that there is an issue so that brings me to why I think there’s a divorce should happen and part of that is in the best interests of America in the long term but it also looks at the marriage between the US and China and asks why did we ever do it to begin with now I get the fact that we all believed in this mission and purpose of free-market

capitalism and rampant globalism was in the best interest of America but we now know it wasn’t so what were the other reasons we had for bringing the two countries together in these nuptials part of it was the idea that we were gonna bring them to become more like us and I talked about this I in in the book I call it fentons five forces which is an homage to Porter’s five forces of business but those are the forces of diplomacy that keep our two countries working together and in communication and I compare it to a cell phone and a cell tower right there’s five bars that you want to have to have perfect communication and you have national national security politics human rights issues commerce and culture and the idea I think that globalists originally had or this push of us entree into China at all cost was that we could win them over on all those five forces but the fact that matter is on human rights politics and national security it’s looking more and more like that’s never gonna happen I’m not going to say that it won’t happen I’m just saying as a practical realist I’m saying let’s pretend like they’re never gonna happen at least any time in the future so let’s agree to disagree in those three so that leaves us two bars left in the cell phone tower two cell cell phone connection and that’s I think enough to feel comfortable that you have a relationship that’s working but if one of those drops and we’re just down to commerce or we’re just down to culture then you’re down to one bar and you’re very close to what I think would be the beginning of another Cold War and to me Cold War’s is not what some people are saying today’s relationship with China is to me it’s no trade no communication like we had between 1950 and 1971 so my thought was in that op-ed that I that I wrote recently was that we should just admit that we’re not going to agree on those three principles which leaves us two left which is only 40% of the five so that should be enough to say let’s get a divorce but you know like any divorce there might be all kinds of intertwined issues like kids for instance let’s figure out how to do the divorce amicably and let’s figure out how to that amicable divorce create some new version of a relationship that’s more balanced that’s based on the two things that we can find that concentric circle in the Fen diagram and that’s culture and commerce but that culture and commerce also has to be reset because as Donald Trump in the administration and various others have said we have a trade imbalance issue we’re accounting procedures that are done by the Chinese are not the same as US companies we have certain protectionist policies and tariffs that the Chinese have over us that we don’t have there’s certain status that they have as a developing nation under the WTO versus a developed nation like we are we need to change those and even with Hollywood and I bring Hollywood into also things like the NBA let’s figure out what is the proper way that they’re allowed to censor things and censor our speech without repercussions beyond where their jurisdiction is so I would argue with Hollywood they can censor things for their market that’s okay why because we’re ok with it with Japan we’re okay with it with Korea and we’re okay with it with the Middle East and other markets so in the effort of finding compromise let’s let them do that but they can’t dare go beyond their border and tell us what we can or cannot have in those movies for the rest of the world and in order to do that the nation has to get behind the studios and the filmmakers that are in charge of those decisions and say we have your back if they retaliate because Germany can see that Taiwanese flag then we’re going to come down with them with the force of this nation with whatever that leverage point is that we think is there the NBA the same the same thing I mean there was a big cry for LeBron James and and you know the the rest of the NBA to come out and support Hong Kong but the fact was there was no national effort to support what repercussions that would have against the NBA so if the NBA did that or LeBron James who has 20 million a year or whatever it is coming out of China every year stood up for those Hong Kong protesters and then lost all that endorsement money all that potential income he would have just been a sacrificial lamb so we need to say hey LeBron we’re gonna back you as a country and we’re gonna make a statement

on your behalf and on the behalf of all people in the United States that way you’re protected and your free speech right to be able to say what you want to say about it but that didn’t happen so you know it’s a very difficult situation because you want to say LeBron say something you know stand up for Hong Kong but at the same point it’s easy for Senator Marco Rubio to tell him to do that but Marco Rubio doesn’t have 50 million dollars a year and endorsement money coming out of China so he can say all he wants LeBron has to make the sacrifice and if he has to make the sacrifice maybe as a nation we back him so that we all create the leverage to make sure that he says what we all want him to say but he doesn’t feel the wrath when none of us else do know it’s interesting you know at the rate at the beginning of your book it’s very stark you actually started with a little I don’t know if you call it a plate or something it’s not exactly a preface it’s a very short line almost like a dedication to self-reflection I thought that was fascinating yeah well there were times where the the movie business is a very high-profile endeavor so that particular movie because it was so big and involved big stars and it was involved the two superpowers it was on the cover of New York Times and Wall Street Journal and all the different big publications around the world and there were times when I would see in fact I say one in in the book where I was called out for being a Benedict Arnold you know and and I went to panels where I would talk and people would come up behind me and and say you’re a shill for China and I never you know to me I felt like I was a true patriot of the united states during that time why because we were opening a market that we were making money and where that money wasn’t makeable at any other point in time and that money part of it not enough of it but part of it was coming back to the united states so we were increasing GDP of know the US and whatever small part and that also was allowing us to finance more production days in various other components of the movies which created more jobs so increased GDP and increased you know GDR and increased jobs for the u.s. made sense to me as far as a mission and a purpose on top of that I also felt like everything that we got into that market in a stronger way that could penetrate more of their consumers was getting more of the soft power message of the West into the East so I felt good about that too so when people said you’re a shill or you’re a Benedict Arnold or whatever it was I always brushed it off because I was like you don’t understand what we’re actually getting done why you know I’m not gonna listen to you and when the Daryl Morey tweet came out and I started the self reflect on it and I start to see where we are today with the supply chain issues with the fact that we’ve shipped a lot of our middle-class jobs overseas the pandering the censorship that certain things that we do that are part of the CCP initiative that aren’t in the best interests of Americans I start to realize I was complicit in doing what those people were those critics were saying I was doing and now I’m thinking differently about it and thinking how do I approach this how do I get to an audience enough where I say hey look none of us were bad people we were driven by a mission and purpose that was fed to us by lots of leadership around the world this globalist free market capitalism idea and we were just trying to get the job done and we felt like we had a purpose and mission that was right but now it’s not we realize it’s not there’s a lot of benefits to a very strategically reset version of what we are doing so I want to make sure that that’s out there I don’t think we want to go to war with China and I know we don’t want to start a cold war with China but we need to reevaluate how we’re doing it and we need to do it as a country together this is not a red or blue issue this is red blue purple and everybody in between we need to get our thinking caps on and get smart about this and figure out how we’re gonna tackle it otherwise like you’re saying we’re just gonna keep kowtow to the CCP giving them what they want on behalf of shareholders and investors that just simply want to make as much money out of that market as possible you know I was just thinking as you’re talking you know when we were talking offline earlier you you have a very good perspective on the power of the Chinese Communist Party propaganda apparatus you kind of described it to me I wondering if you could kind of you know kind of elaborate

on that and how you know how ubiquitous it is it was you had a really very interesting way of putting it and I’m wondering if you could expand on that a little bit for our audience okay so just in regards to structure of it obviously have Xi Jinping who runs the country but he’s got six others Standing Committee members so there’s seven members of the Standing Committee and then you have the rest of the Politburo and the rest of the Communist Party then you have the National People’s Congress right which is sort of a rubber-stamp side of things but under under the Communist Party the CPC is an organization called the Ministry of propaganda or the propaganda ministry or various versions of that name they dictate the messaging that goes out to their populace and that messaging is carried by everybody in government they all carry the party line in fact when I co-host congressional delegation trips to China we hit all the different entities of government and then we hit some of the private sector in the SOE xand and various other entities and they almost say the exact same thing in every room it’s unbelievable and to me that is why I believe in those bars that we talked about national security politics and human rights there are issues there that are part of the party line that are disseminated across the whole populace and yes there are sectors the populace that have the financial wherewithal or the the resources to be able to get news from outside of the country and there’s the VPNs and getting beyond the firewalls but the majority of the people they’re here that one-party line and they believe in it so when we’re saying oh well you know what eventually they’re gonna want to overthrow their government or eventually they’re gonna get behind human rights the way we are the way they’re gonna say the South China Sea is you know not China’s to have like we’re gonna win them over as long as we keep pushing that that narrative well they’re not really hearing that narrative they’re hearing the narrative from the Ministry of propaganda and to liken it to the United States which we talked about before is I look at how steadfast people are on the red or the blue side of things it’s very bifurcated and it’s because each side is getting one party line that’s following one real narrative and no matter how much the liberal side thinks Donald Trump is doing stuff wrong and once that his supporters that believe the same thing his supporters believe he’s doing everything right and they think those supporters think that the left is doing everything wrong and that’s because you have CNN and MSNBC and Rachel Maddow and Don Lemon and everybody else touting one and then you have on the other side you have Fox and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and you know Tucker Carlson talking about another narrative and by the way we’ve talked about it before there’s some people we think are pigeon holed in both sides that are actually much more in the middle than a lot of people believe but you know everybody’s got their blinders on but imagine if you had all of that narrative put together in the United States with one party line then suddenly all those Stud fast supporters that were following that and following that are suddenly following the same and then everybody’s in line and that’s what’s happening in China the Chinese people the populace believe the government is doing everything well if they didn’t we would see another Tiananmen Square uprising and the CCP knows that and they’re super smart super intelligent about the way that they decipher intelligence through and we know mutual friends like Steve Bannon who are calling it an information war part of the unrestricted warfare PLA directive right they’re very good in information and they’re very good at propaganda and we’re seeing that not only inside of their country but we’re also seeing it outside too well so you know all the time and actually this whole coronavirus situation kind of is a good window on this but all the time there’s people who are you know patriotic whistleblowers so to speak right because the Chinese Communist Party’s involved in all sort of malfeasance and so forth so in this case you know you had these 10 doctors which of course you know we’re all we’re all familiar with that when early on said there’s a big problem that’s happening and that you know even though it was very quickly censored and kept from a lot of people still there were some significant a number of people that learned that there was something different than the Communist Party propaganda at the time and we’re worried and that the word did get out so this is this is something that’s constantly happening there at the same time there’s also you know I think it’s some over 300 million people who have actually quit

the Communist Party as part of the quit the Communist Party movement so to speak again not publicly at this it’s so so you know there is a consciousness in China that this may not be the system that everybody wants for the future well there’s definitely dissent a hundred percent and and I’m not saying I mean there’s 1.4 billion people there let’s say 200 million wants something different but who wants something different enough to go up against the Iron Fist of the CCP right now like you’re gonna need strength in numbers you’re gonna need the leverage of a large of that population to want to do that and the CCP understands that and knows that well and their directive when it comes to messaging and narrative is so powerful that they know that they can flip a switch I mean the worst case scenario well in a worst case scenario where they can’t flip the switch in something that’s a little more you know peaceful or subtle they go national they they go nationalistic I was there in 2012 when there were issues with I mean we talked about the truck going through Forbidden City and killing people there were the bus station stabbings etc there was a lot of things that were starting to boil up and show whoa we might be heading towards another June 4 1989 and instead of trying to figure out a way to calm the masses through I don’t know an achievement like oh we just brought another hundred million people into the middle class they decided to instead send some ships over to the rocky islands that are disputed between Japan and China and start to lay claim on those and create this you know rally around the flag narrative with Japan and before you knew it everybody forgot about their discontent in China and started you know throwing Molotov cocktails outside of the embassy for Japan you saw Toyota’s and Nissan’s overturned in Shanghai streets there’s a great sort of rally around the flag opportunity there that they always know they can do and even in this Kovan crisis where let’s face it there were a lot of wrong moves made by the CCP in regards to curbing what the problem was that they had but the rest of the world has a lot of issues with Cova too and the rest of the world is creating some nice opportunities to create narrative around that deflect off that their deficiencies and make it seem like somebody else’s problem any final words before we finish up yeah I just I well first of all it’s been an honor to be on the show the fan and enjoyed many of these interviews it’s interesting I mean I for me it’s it’s about really trying to talk about this as many points of view as possible because I know I have a very strong applied practical experience between the two countries and I know I had a mission and purpose that I believed in at one point that now I think was detrimental to the country but I’m still very very adamant that we avoid a cold war between the two so my feeling is and as a entering the lecture circuit is like how you know how to best get people on board with the fact that we don’t want a cold war we want to continue some sort of exchange that benefits America yet we need to do it without compromising our interests and if we do that I honestly believe in the long run it’s going to be very good for American and also for the world but we cannot do that I can’t do this myself no one can do it by themselves and no one political party can do it by themselves we actually all have to get together and decide this is what we want to do and we got to put the leverage of the nation behind it because when the country does get behind something we can get anything done we want and I do believe that you know I talked about how I don’t think we’re gonna win them over on those three but if we win over a reset in the way that we work culturally and commercially that benefits Americans way better than it has and we get that accomplished it’s like a baby step approach right like China’s one of the big issues that companies have when they enter that market is they see the world is their oyster and they can grow and grow and grow and oh my gosh think of how great this is gonna be but they can never execute the very first thing that needs to get done to get to the next one to get to the next one perhaps if we look at an a baby step approach where we say okay let’s divorce let’s forget about those three right now let’s continue on the commercial and cultural exchange but let’s do it in a smart strategic way that benefits America and protects

what’s important to us and if we can get that done then let’s focus on the big Rhys because I think that will help us show that we can make achievements there but then on top of it that achievement is also going to back us in getting there too and maybe that’s the goal that we need to set but just have that baby step or that one step in between I’m gonna ask you another question before we finish up because I have to you know you’re familiar with what’s typically called organ harvesting industry in China I’m sure if you’ve watched some American thought-leaders interviews we’ve we’ve talked about that a number of times how can you have a commercial relationship I mean this is this is I asked myself this question because there’s some things that you’re saying that make a heck of a lot of sense to me we need to be able to communicate I agree with you however how can you have a commercial relationship with a nation where the state sanctions murder for organs for a big doll in a multi-billion dollar industry you know it if you know that’s a reality and you accept that yeah you had a guest on Arthur Waldron recently who compared it to going into a store that you go to every day to go buy your groceries and then one day you find out that they have all these harvested organs in the back and they have this whole other market that’s going on in the back do you keep going to that front market knowing that the back markets there and what is that saying about you it was a great metaphor and I do think that it is something that falls under perhaps the human rights aspect or even more severe than that I mean they work in harvesting scenario is terrible but for some reason we’ve been able to live with it with other countries too I mean Saudi Arabia for instance the way we are okay with doing business with them versus their human rights issues it’s a it’s a moral and philosophical question that we need to ask ourselves as a country we need to realize that the almighty dollar seems to be driving us and guards to how we make these decisions and we need to decide whether we want to change that and I think more importantly we need to try to make it consistent around the world not just with one market versus another so to answer your question I don’t know how we handle that psychologically we do so what does that say about us I don’t know but I’d like to believe that we all want to try to fix that and I think that starts with how we approach baby steps to getting there and putting the leverage of the nation behind us rather than just having different fractions of us shout out causes and hope that you know sacrificial lambs keep sacrificing themselves because like we know we as a nation if we’re want to pursue something together we can definitely affect change but that one’s a difficult question no absolutely so let’s finish up on this no you mentioned earlier that this isn’t a red or a blue issue for America this is although it seems at this time that it is like just looking at the face of it looks like much more of a red issue like like Republican but you know there is this Blue Dog Coalition that’s you know interested in looking into how China is accountable if Chinese Communist Party is accountable for coronavirus what I mean frankly you’re working with Congress what are you doing to facilitate this kind of becoming much more of a red and blue issue well number one is I want a car I mean the Democrats and and like we talked about we’re you know I’m a nonpartisan in this issue but I would really like to see the Democrats take this issue to heart and start making it a priority if you look at some of the most important principles that the Democratic Party is supported from middle class and labor you know rights an issue to human rights to censorship and the freedom of creative expression and all that stuff that China obviously does not see eye-to-eye with us on the Democrats should be fully into this so one of the things I’m doing whether as a speaker on the lecture circuit or in promoting the book or being a voice in this is trying to get on as many platforms that cater to the blue audience as the red because

we need to get together as a collective to combat this issue and to tackle this challenge because quite frankly the China issues that affect us as a country are really not bordered by red or blue politics I mean 90% of this country you know we talked about how opening that market the products and services has really benefitted shareholders and investors but unfortunately a lot of this country is not benefiting from that windfall they might be benefiting from cheaper goods said at a Walmart but they’re also really not benefiting from the fact that factories have moved out of their town and middle-class jobs have moved out or maybe even the IP that they created in their basement is now being used without any monetization over in China so we need to address this from the Democratic side so I’m trying to get the voice out whether it’s in front of large crowds or whether it’s on TV or in podcasts or radio and and and I know you have red and blue that listen to this and watch this program so hopefully they spread the word too but it’s an important issue for all Americans well such a pleasure to have you on such an honor thank you you