episode 139: Victims of Communism: Are We Condemned to Repeat the Past?
America has a problem.
Positive attitudes toward communism and socialism are at an all-time high in the United States.
Almost 40% of Americans now view them favorably and half of our kids in their 20s say they favor socialism. This demonstrates a stunning lack of knowledge of the evils of communism.
In the last century, communism murdered more than 100 million people, and forced billions into Marxist tyranny. This horrific past is not dead. It’s not even past. China and its Chinese Communist Party subjugates its own people with absolute controls over freedom of speech and movement while engaging in its strategy of “Three Warfares” to become ascendent globally. They assiduously work our world organizations like the UN and the WHO, while simultaneously engaging in genocide, slave labor and forced human organ transplants for sale on the world market.
Meanwhile, in America we’re seeing the rise of cultural marxism and ideologies derived from it like Critical Race Theory.
Joining me on this episode to talk about these threats and what to do about them are two leaders with vast knowledge of the issues.
Dr. Edwin J. Feulner, the Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and the Founder and former President of The Heritage Foundation which he transformed from a small think tank with nine employees into the most highly influential research and policy institution in America.
Ambassador Andrew Bremberg is the President and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and who most recently served as the Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.
episode 139 transcript
Episode 139: Victims of Communism: Are We Condemned to Repeat the Past?
\Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to the Bill Walton Show, featuring conversations with leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, and thinkers, fresh perspectives on money, culture, politics, and human flourishing. Interesting people, interesting things.
Bill Walton (00:24):
Welcome to the Bill Walton Show. I’m Bill Walton. America has a problem. Positive attitudes towards communism and socialism are in an all time high in the United States. 40% of Americans now have a favorable view of both and almost half of our kids in their 20s say they favor socialism, which is up from just 40% a year ago. This demonstrates a stunning lack of knowledge of the history and realities and evils of communism. In the last century, communism murdered more than 100 million people and forced billions into Marxist tyranny. China and its Chinese Communist Party is now becoming a Senate worldwide. And in America we’re seeing the rise of cultural Marxism and etiologies like critical race theory. Joining me to talk about these threats and what to do about them are two enormously talented leaders with vast knowledge of the issues Dr. Edwin J. Feulner Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is here.
Bill Walton (01:32):
Dr. Feulner is also a little job. He was the founder and former president of the Heritage Foundation, which he transformed from a small think tank with nine employees to the most highly influential research and policy institution in America, if not the world.
Ed Feulner (01:48):
Thank you Bill.
Bill Walton (01:49):
Ed, welcome. Glad you could be here. And Ambassador Andrew Bremberg is the President and CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. He was previously served as a representative of the United States to the office of the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. Prior to his work with the UN, he served as assistant to the president and director of the domestic policy council for the executive office, President Trump. Andrew, Ed, great you guys are here, right?
Adam Bremberg (02:20):
Ed Feulner (02:21):
Thank you Bill.
Bill Walton (02:24):
Ed, I think let’s start with you. How did we come to where we are today with this issue?
Ed Feulner (02:28):
Oh, Bill. I’ve got a little more gray hair than either of you. So I kind of I guess I got into it earlier. It was brief recap my 20th birthday, my first trip to Europe with a bunch of college classmates and the priest who was our chaperone. We were in Munich, August 12th 1961. We were scheduled to drive in on the autobahn to Berlin and drive-through Eastern Germany, which was very conventional back in those days. Then something happened that night. We couldn’t go to Berlin. The news in my rather feeble German, I was able to figure out what was going on. The communists were doing something. They were trying to stop people from making the transit, trying to stop people from going to the east side, from the communist side into West Berlin. It turned out that was the night the Berlin Wall started. So, I was kind of there and communism was very real. Subsequent years, in both my research at first at the Center for Strategic International Studies where I worked on questions like trading with the communist, what that was doing during the Vietnam war.
Ed Feulner (03:46):
So I came to know it and to see it up close. And it was a very sobering kind of experience because the differences were so dramatic between their system and our system. Over here, yes we have different political parties, different emphasis, but fundamentally the individual is able to be what he can be or what she can be and move ahead. So those opportunities are just not there. And that’s what really woke me up to what was going on later on exposure to China, et cetera. But we can-
Bill Walton (04:27):
So Andrew, you and I worked together in the Trump transition. Ed, we were all in that together, a band of brothers. You were domestic policy, I remember you knew everything about every single rig on the planet and it was very impressive. And then four years later, you’ve re-emerged as somebody that’s very passionate about China and the worldwide threat of communism. I mean what happened?
Adam Bremberg (04:54):
Thanks Bill. So I have a shorter story than Ed’s.
Ed Feulner (04:57):
Well you’re younger-
Adam Bremberg (04:59):
That’s right. So I grew up with the pillar figures and experience of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul the II, heroic leadership witness about communism. And as a child, I remember when the wall fell. You were there when the wall went up. As a child I remember when the wall fell and the fall of Soviet Union shortly after that. And like many Americans I grew up experiencing, obviously the evils and horrors of communism in the past. Far away and in the past, that was over. And that to the degree that communism remained a threat in the world today, it was these little dictator countries that aren’t really communists was the idea. And just happened to be dictators where no free people would want to live. And China, but don’t worry about China. They’re going to become market oriented, they’re going to Western and liberalized. So they’re not really going to be communist. So it’s okay. And that that’s the world that I grew up, came of age in.
Adam Bremberg (06:05):
And when I entered public policy and doing policy work, I focused on domestic issues because I saw the need to preserve economic liberty and freedom at home as the main focus that I wanted to work on. So that’s where I wanted to make sure we preserved the ability for individuals to retain their economic freedom, religious freedom and working in that space. And I’m sure like many Americans, it wasn’t until the experience of the last several years that my eyes were open and I learned a lot and I was incredibly honored to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. And that experience, which I’m sure we can talk about was just stunning, in helping me really understand the real nature of the threat that communism still poses to the United States to our way of life today. And principally through what we see globally, the actions of the Chinese communist party. That’s what drove me when I left government to come and I was honored to join lead Victims of Communism Foundation.
Bill Walton (07:09):
I think we all need a mea culpa on this one because I was on wall street and we were pumping all kinds of money into China, and everybody was trying to take their business there and put their factories there. And the idea was, we’re going to bring China into the world economy, World Trade Organization, et cetera. We’ll make them rich. They’ll become liberal, they’ll become democratic. And we’ll all be part of this happy rural community. That didn’t happen.
Ed Feulner (07:33):
Well Bill, another mea culpa from this side. I remember pulling together the presidents of the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Cato Heritage. We all sat down and said, we all agree on one thing. China should become a member of the world trade organization and China should have most favored nation status because then the market system will work and China will become more like us. And well that hasn’t been what’s happened. And that was a very much a bipartisan perspective at that time, because it was a combination of wishful thinking. But it also at the end of the Soviet union, I remember a professor at Harvard wrote a book called The End of History. Well, it wasn’t the end of history. I mean it’s well, what we know with Victims of Communism Foundation, it’s worse than ever.
Bill Walton (08:26):
Well, the Victims of Communism Foundation it traditionally look backward at what happened with Soviet Union and some of the Eastern European states, but now it’s very forward-looking because this is not a past problem. This is a future problem. How long do you think this has been percolating in China? I mean, is this something that emerged with fear or has this been 10, 20, 30 years in the works?
Ed Feulner (08:49):
It goes back. I think it goes way back. The Marxist ideology has not really changed from the days of Mao Tse-tung. They try to smooth it over and, make it sound good. But unlike my young friend here, I remember the cultural revolution and the professors being sent out to pick cotton or grow rice in the fields because they had too much education and the millions of people who died in those Mao Tse-tung experiments. And it’s a continuation now of what was happening then. And that combined with really a power grab around the world now that they’ve got the economic muscle and increasingly the military muscle, that the world’s a very dangerous place now.
Bill Walton (09:43):
Well, Bow was a catastrophe economically. He had no idea what to do about an economy and the cultural revolution was run by his movie star wife as I remember. And it was all about taking out educated people, but then Ding came in, wasn’t he the one that really said Chinese communism with a capitalist characteristics or something like that?
Ed Feulner (10:05):
Yeah. Doesn’t matter what you call a cat, as long as it gets-
Bill Walton (10:09):
But it seems like they’ve been systematically since Mao, maybe since the 70s has been systematically building what they call their warfares, the economic warfare, the cultural warfare, the legal warfare, and obviously the war warfare that missiles and things like that. Andrew, you had an eyeopening experience when you got to Geneva and saw the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Geneva.
Adam Bremberg (10:33):
Absolutely. I mean, I was there to see and meeting with other ambassadors and diplomats was very eyeopening from other countries in terms of their experience of the change of how China and the Chinese Communist Party approach you working in international organizations. So I think we’ve seen an evolution where historically their approach has basically been one of defensive of just working in those spaces just to preserve their own kind of sovereign tier domestic issues and fending off kind of criticisms or attacks, which is actually where I think one of the issues with the WTO admission 20 years ago. I’m not going to pass judgment whether or not it was a good idea or a bad idea at the time. I think the clear problem that I hope we learn from it. And some of my experiences in Geneva, I think point to it is that the rest of the developed world in the WTO context failed to hold them accountable.
Adam Bremberg (11:30):
So you can debate whether it was a good idea to let them in or not. But the failure once you made the decision to invite them in, the failure to hold them accountable and that when they would fail to follow the rules, that there would be consequences. That to me, was the devastating mistake that was made. And that’s what we see in other international organizations is that they took a defensive approach. We’re going to keep doing things, our way, pretend to be meaningful contributors to this international order and fend off criticism. And what’s changed within the last decade. Mostly under Xi Jinping has been they’ve taken a much more aggressive, proactive approach in trying to change the nature of these international organizations. Which remember we helped found and build after World War II, to change them in ways that advance their communist ideology, not a kind of classical liberal free approach to the world. And we’ve seen whether you talk about their kind of wolf warrior diplomacy, or there are other actions in the international organization system has become much more aggressive.
Bill Walton (12:35):
Now, did you have any, you were the ambassador for the UN also other international organizations. Did that portfolio include the World Health Organization?
Adam Bremberg (12:44):
Yes. And Bill you know my background had been in healthcare I’d worked in healthcare for years so WHO is center-
Bill Walton (12:50):
Yeah. So because that’s on everybody’s mind now with the Chinese role with the WHO and the virus. What’s your take on that?
Adam Bremberg (12:58):
Oh, this is a perfect example I think of China acting in a very non-transparent defensive posture pretending to be equal members, fully compliant with an international treaty body an international organization, and the failure of that institution and other member states to hold them accountable when they fail to follow the rules. I mean, so I would draw a direct line from our failure to enforce the rules under WTO, to the reason why we don’t see the type of transparency we should have seen from China all year, last year in the WHO context. And I think they unfortunately have learned kind of that right lesson, that there may not be consequences to our actions. So we’re going to keep acting in an aggressive not friendly and working with the normal international order approach, because there’s no consequences when we fail to do so.
Ed Feulner (13:54):
Bill, Andrew under understates his own role because I’m so proud of the fact that he actually beat the Chinese communists. And I think that’s a story that he’s got to tell us in terms of what he managed to do when he was our ambassador in Geneva, in terms of the most outrageous example I can think of in terms of intellectual property. Who steals everybody’s intellectual property? China.
Adam Bremberg (14:22):
So this was one of the first substantive issue I took on when I went to Geneva and talked about one of the important UN bodies in Geneva is the World Intellectual Property Organization. This is a great organization that helps intellectual property creators and owners get better access to IP protection in other countries around the world. This is a great way where multi-lateralism can work in a very efficient way. And well the first issue I ran into is that there was a new election. We were ending two terms of the incumbent director general. There’ll be a new election and as I arrived everyone’s telling me the leading the front runner candidate out there as the candidate from China. And I kind of did a double-take I thought like, is this a joke? Is this like an onion article? Are you pulling my leg? Like what? You can’t be serious.
Ed Feulner (15:12):
Adam Bremberg (15:12):
Yeah. And I very quickly had a meeting with lots of other ambassadors, particularly those from developed countries, our traditional partners and allies, I was stunned with the near unanimity. Where in my conversations with them, I basically hear two messages. One, which is, we’re really troubled by this, this is not a good thing for the UN system or for WIPO. And then the second message of, but there’s nothing we can probably do about it. The Chinese are going to win. And that was just stunning to see that that was the default position. And that what it took was U.S. leadership, to lead a global campaign and cooperation with other countries that long story short resulted in the election of a great Singaporean head of the Singapore IP office as the new director general in I think the most lopsided competitive vote in the organization’s history.
Bill Walton (16:04):
You’re watching the Bill Walton Show, and I’m here with Dr. Ed Feulner and ambassador Andrew Bremberg. And we’re talking about Andrew’s coup in Geneva when he got the right person to head up the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Ed Feulner (16:19):
Andrew, just give us the anecdote about what happened just before the final vote, what the Chinese ambassador told you about his relationship with back home.
Adam Bremberg (16:31):
This was interesting. One of the lessons we had learned was that … And this goes back to China’s the way they act in international diplomacy. They can be very aggressive and use real threats, financial inducements to try to change a country’s vote. We had seen this in the past. So we were very focused on making sure we had an election we went off with good integrity, good rules. And we wanted to kind of limit the ability of frankly of Beijing to come in over and try to bribe or cajole or coerce a country to change their vote. So we had worked with other countries to make sure that less viable candidates dropped out before the election started. And as the election was half taking place, 30 multiple rounds live in person there in Geneva, that candidates that we saw that had been really well qualified candidates, but weren’t going to have the votes to get there that they would withdraw from the race.
Adam Bremberg (17:26):
So what happened was after the first round of voting, one candidate was eliminated and all of the other candidates that were running basically withdrew. So you were now faced with there was going to be one final vote now between the Singaporean candidate and the Chinese candidate. So as I referenced, I approached the Chinese ambassador and inquired whether or not, given that all the other candidates had withdrawn, was he going to withdraw the Chinese candidate before the final vote? He was surprised by my question and were very puzzled and conveyed that, “Well we never foresaw this as a possibility. I’d have to get instructions back from Beijing. Maybe we could postpone the vote to tomorrow and I could decide whether or not we withdrawal the candidate.” And of course we said, “No, no, that’s fine. Let’s go ahead and have the vote.”
Bill Walton (18:17):
What was your leverage? I mean, what did you have over him that he had to withdraw?
Adam Bremberg (18:21):
Nothing. Nothing. I just offered that maybe he would want to withdraw-
Bill Walton (18:25):
And he did?
Adam Bremberg (18:26):
No, the Chinese did not withdraw. That’s why there was this final vote. That was the most lopsided vote in the organization’s history.
Bill Walton (18:33):
What was the vote?
Adam Bremberg (18:35):
There was 83 countries voting that represented the coordinating committee. And I believe the final vote was 55 to is it, that would be 28.
Bill Walton (18:47):
But weren’t they afraid of the Chinese retaliating because they are notorious for-
Adam Bremberg (18:51):
Oh other countries? Oh yes. Oh, this is my conversation with the Chinese ambassador. My conversations with other ambassadors throughout the process indicated that countries were very concerned about retaliation by China, which is why one of the most important things we focused on that had nothing to do with the diplomacy and politicking on this was in the international organization body, the rules for how the election would take place. We had seen examples in the past where the individual delegate who votes on behalf of the country like I did, would take their phone and video or photograph them voting for the Chinese candidate. So they could send that as evidence to China to get whatever kind of either pay off or inducement or to say, “Hey, we did what you asked us to do.” And this was just completely antithetical to any approach.
Adam Bremberg (19:43):
So what we focused on was the rules to make sure that we were going to have rules that protected the integrity of the ballot in the international organization setting. We limited, we worked and all of this was done in great cooperation with other countries because in the UN system, outside the security council in New York, but in Geneva, the U.S. were the biggest payer for everything. We have no veto. So we have to work with other countries and get them on board and compromise-
Bill Walton (20:13):
What percentage of the budget are we in the UN now? 30%?
Adam Bremberg (20:15):
Almost 30% for the UN overall. And it varies by individual organization.
Bill Walton (20:20):
Ed, what’s the nature of the Chinese threat? I mean we sort of jumped into this and I want you both to talk about why are we concerned?
Ed Feulner (20:30):
We have to be concerned Bill, both because of just the size of their economy, the way it has grown and the acceptance of by so many people who basically enjoy the virtues of freedom around the world and free enterprises. Hey, we can get our widgets cheaper made in China. Hey, oh yeah well, we’re dependent on them for supply chain. So we can’t ruffle those feathers or if you’re in a less developed country, oh, China’s been so good to us. They’re helping us develop our port system or building a railroad for us.
Ed Feulner (21:06):
Well, this goes back a long, long way in terms of Chinese efforts and communist efforts, going back actually to what the Soviet Union did back in its heyday, when it was working elsewhere around the world, whether it was in Southern Africa, et cetera. And going back to the victims of communism foundation, you were right Bill that it’s an amazing historic study to tell in terms of what’s happened over the last 100 years really, the last century of the more than a 100 million people who died because of this ideology, but it’s ongoing. And it’s ongoing, not just in China, it’s in Vietnam, it’s in Cuba. It’s particularly in North Korea. We all hear that all the time. And now you have places like Venezuela once the richest country in all of Latin America and following a Cuban model. It’s very distressing that they still would be credible.
Bill Walton (22:03):
Now, all those other countries you mentioned, are they making common cause with the Chinese? Is it a-
Adam Bremberg (22:11):
Certainly to varying degrees. I mean, they all have their own individual relationships. Vietnam obviously-
Bill Walton (22:17):
Because I don’t think the Vietnamese like the Chinese that much.
Adam Bremberg (22:19):
Exactly. I was going to say, they’ve got their own domestic and security issues with the Chinese particularly [crosstalk 00:22:24] south China sea.
Ed Feulner (22:27):
Yeah. And Vietnam is a significant economic player as well as it’s a 100 million people on China Southern border. And they’re mad right now at what the Chinese particularly are doing with their dams up the Mekong River, where Vietnamese have happened to have lunch yesterday with someone who knows Vietnam very, very well. And the Vietnamese for generations have farmed certain rice patties along the Mekong Delta. And all of a sudden, China is through their dams is holding water. Then it lets the water free and the water comes down without any warning to people down river, wipes out villages, kills people, eliminates as I say, fields that have been farmed for generations and they’re just not good actors in the whole world community. And so they’re-
Bill Walton (23:24):
China if you look at all the countries throughout, they have no friends.
Ed Feulner (23:27):
No. And they’ve got nothing countries around them. Yeah.
Bill Walton (23:31):
So that’s, did you see that at work in the UN?
Adam Bremberg (23:35):
Oh yeah. Absolutely, absolutely the way you put it. China doesn’t have a lot of friends, they have people that will work with them-
Bill Walton (23:44):
And they coerce-
Adam Bremberg (23:44):
Either through inducements or fear, but they don’t have friends. And that I think is really the big competitive advantage that the U.S. has.
Bill Walton (23:50):
It seems to me that we’ve got to make the case for freedom though, because it was pretty obvious when we’re fighting Russia or Soviet Union that we’re free. They’re locked down. They’re living under tyranny. The cause of freedom in the United States is not as a senate as a once was. I mean, you’ve now got among kids. It’s freedom is not that much of a value it’s equity or it’s being woke. I mean, I don’t want to change the subject particularly, but the nature of the enemy we’re fighting is very anti-freedom. Yeah. We’ve got a mount a counter attack. I mean, how do you see us doing that?
Ed Feulner (24:25):
I guess on every front and here Bill, I think about some of the concessions that are constantly being made by our political leadership. When we gave Russia the permission to continue with Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the North Sea to make Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies. And someone said well, it was 95% complete, why shouldn’t we let them complete it? A 95% complete pipeline under an ocean in 20 years is just going to be a piece of tin junk down there. It’s not going to be of any use to anybody. But we made it viable for them and for our allies then to be able to separate themselves I guess from us. So what we need is really strong leadership I think not only from the United States, but from our allies, whether they’re in NATO, whether it’s in North Asia, think about Korea in Japan particularly. Whether it’s from besieged allies like Taiwan number 70, 80 to one in terms of what might happen to them and on down.
Ed Feulner (25:37):
And we’ve done some interesting things and Andrew, you were involved. I mean, things like quad where we’ve got the United States and Japan and India and Australia working together, to kind of counter what’s going on in China. So the whole idea of communism and what VOC, Victims of Communism is all about is kind of an historic thing that well you’ll have your museum and people can go in and see how bad it used to be. It’s not just an historic thing. It’s very much a thing for now and for the future.
Bill Walton (26:12):
You’re watching the Bill Walton Show, I’m here with ed Feulner and Andrew Bremberg. And we’re talking about the nature of the Chinese communist threat and how the United States of America needs to marshal its forces effectively against it. And first is understanding the issue, understanding the problem. And that’s what you guys are doing with your foundation. I mean what’s your role?
Ed Feulner (26:34):
Let me just say one thing about the history of it Bill, because this goes to one of the points you made before. Victims of Communism Foundation was authorized by a specific act of Congress passed unanimously with outspoken support from Jesse Helms on the right and Nancy Pelosi on the left, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. And we are proud of that charter because that’s what the traditional American perspective has always been, that we are different from the communists and that we want to honor those people who have suffered from lack of freedom. And that’s why, I guess it’s so important today when as you pointed out in the beginning, so many people don’t see the difference and we’ve got to remind them of what that difference is.
Adam Bremberg (27:22):
Certainly. But to your question about what we’re doing today, I’d really like to talk about we have a really impressive China studies program at Victims of Communism led by Dr. Adrian Zenz, who’s our senior China fellow who has been doing incredible research. I mean, new research about what is happening and the area he specialized in has been Western China in the Xinjiang area. And the research that we’ve been able to produce, in terms of ex exposing and explaining what is happening with the genocide that China is now committing against Uyghurs and other religious and ethnic minorities in Western China has been critical. So we saw the decision at the end of the Trump administration to ban the importation of cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang. And then immediately after that you saw the decision by Secretary Pompeo to label what’s happening-
Ed Feulner (28:14):
Now what they’re doing there is they’re using forced labor-
Adam Bremberg (28:16):
Forced labor. Absolutely. Absolutely. You saw the decision by Secretary Pompeo to make the formal designation of genocide, which then equally importantly, then under the Biden administration, Secretary Blinken reconfirmed, there was a lot of speculation. If you remember back at the beginning of the year that well, what’s the Biden administration going to do? Would the new secretary walk back Secretary Pompeo’s genocide determination and they didn’t. And one of the reasons that I believe that’s the case is that the research base that those decisions, both the importation bans and the genocide determination has been based on including the research done by Adrian Zenz is so clear and so convincing. There’s no way you can walk that back and that it’s an important message that the rest of the world I believe is now slowly waking up to.
Adam Bremberg (29:04):
I mean, this is a conversation that I would have with other ambassadors in Geneva or in the human rights space, for the entire time I was there and you had a lot of tepid, acknowledgment and significant hesitancy on the part of other countries to sign onto the letter put their name on it. And we’re seeing that change now I believe frankly, because the evidence has become so convincing and so overwhelming. Not just the acts that the Chinese government are doing, but the latest research paper we put out shows the intent to commit a genocide.
Bill Walton (29:35):
China has weapons though that Russians didn’t, Soviet union didn’t. I mean, the differences so cold war, we had the Soviet Union they had their missiles. We were iron curtain. It was pretty obvious. They were bad. We weren’t that interconnected. Now with China though I mean, we are so interconnected, economically, technologically. We’ve got a big threat with our semiconductors mainly come from Taiwan and China has designs on that, but they’ve got their own semiconductor that we buy from them. And with regard to the Uyghurs and the slave labor they’re making cotton, right? Picking cotton.
Adam Bremberg (30:11):
That’s the one yeah.
Bill Walton (30:13):
And a lot of the apparel companies, there were some retailers I think a Swedish retailer that was in China at 400 stores and they came out against this slave labor. And then next thing you know if you called China’s Uber, they couldn’t tell you where the store was. And they disappeared the whole chain and they’ve got that same kind of pressure to bring, to bear on Nike, the National Basketball Association.
Adam Bremberg (30:41):
There are a couple of others, so it starts with cotton. That was the most obvious one. But we’re now seeing the questions about other solar panel components that are being produced with slave labor. The whole supply chain in China it’s a very obvious question mark about kind of how much they’ve integrated forced slave labor of Uyghurs. Cotton was the obvious one, but in other sectors, I mean, we’re doing research on this right now to help identify what other parts of the supply chain are infected by that.
Bill Walton (31:11):
So if you want solar in the United States, we’re buying it all from China and they’re using slave labor to make-
Adam Bremberg (31:16):
That’s what it looks like.
Ed Feulner (31:18):
Well, except look, we do have some friends as you both know, I’m going to be going to Korea very soon to South Korea, free Korea. And one of the main Korean companies actually moved their whole solar panel production from China to Georgia, Dalton Georgia. And it’s a Korean company, but they actually make solar panels now in the United States. So there are options out there. Samsung used to do all of their telephones in China. They moved them all to Vietnam. Now yes, Vietnam is still a communist country, but at least they’re not dependent completely on China for that part of their supply chain for their telephones. So there are some positive things happening from our friends and allies around, but at the same time general motors largest sale of automobiles is to China. Are they going to go over and shake that up? And that’s a problem.
Adam Bremberg (32:11):
And you touched on this and so did Ed just now, I want to come back to the question about why is it a threat because China has had this impressive I’d say lie message for years, which is we’re just trying to defend ourselves, just leave us alone. And we’re basically drawing to say, we’re not like the Soviet Union. They were this ideological, global threat trying to spread their ideology around the world. We’re just trying to just leave us alone. And it’s such a pernicious because one, it lulls you into the idea of, oh we shouldn’t worry about them. But it’s a clear lie in that they now use their geopolitical power with other countries or their market power with companies to now reach out beyond their borders. I mean I actually, I mentioned this to the Chinese ambassador when I was in Geneva. One of the most telling things that that had happened in the recent years was the controversy over when one of the NBA owners had tweeted free Hong Kong and you saw the threats of economic repercussions against the NBA by the Chinese government.
Bill Walton (33:11):
Oh that was the coach.
Adam Bremberg (33:12):
Right? Correct. Yeah. But it helped show is that this whole idea that China is just defensive, just leave us alone. No, no, no. They’re going to take their ideology, their censorship, their lack of freedom. And they are going to seek to super impose it in your country if you criticize them. And that’s a huge threat.
Bill Walton (33:31):
Wasn’t there a martial arts star that somehow said something incorrect about Taiwan or Hong Kong? And he gave this groveling apology because his martial arts is such a big, big, big market in China?
Ed Feulner (33:44):
Well and his movies would not have the proper attendance that he hoped for in terms of paying for making the movies. And the NBA I think just committed to what, $3 billion for the Chinese market, because it’s so big for them? These are American sports teams going over there, because of their search for the almighty, not even the almighty dollar for the almighty renminbi.
Bill Walton (34:12):
Yeah, the China would like to change the reserve currency.
Ed Feulner (34:15):
That’s for sure. Yuan renminbi yeah.
Bill Walton (34:18):
Are they making any progress on that front?
Ed Feulner (34:20):
Yeah. I’m not an expert on that. I don’t think so.
Bill Walton (34:23):
I don’t think people want to have China controlling the world’s currency.
Ed Feulner (34:27):
No. They certainly don’t. I want to bring up one other point on that whole subject though. We have a good friend who you should have on one of your shows Bill and that’s Roger Robinson.
Bill Walton (34:37):
Oh, I know Roger.
Ed Feulner (34:37):
And Roger’s done yeoman’s work in terms of pointing out that in the United States in well, China’s just this other big emerging country, all of a sudden Chinese companies are being listed on the New York stock exchange, the American stock exchange over the counter markets and American veterans and American service men and women whose pension funds are invested in some of those stocks. And these are the same companies now listed on American exchanges that are suppliers to the people’s liberation army. Suppliers to our enemy. What an outrage? Anyway, Roger Robinson-
Bill Walton (35:16):
So we’re financing ammunition’s industry.
Ed Feulner (35:18):
Roger Robinson has done yeoman’s work in terms of getting them dealers and both the administration, both the Trump administration, and now the Biden administration have reaffirmed that they’re going to be delisted.
Bill Walton (35:29):
Well, this surprises me that Biden has actually done a couple of things, right. I’m surprised because he did something right. He kept this, I think there were like 76 companies that were banned from the exchanges. He kept that in place. And you mentioned the other thing he did. What’s the Biden versus Trump?
Ed Feulner (35:51):
My one line is that U.S. China relations are not ever going to go back to “the good old days,” whether it’s the Obama days or the George W. Bush days. It’s new and leaders in both political parties realize that there really is a China threat. And you see this from Tim Kaine, the former Democrat candidate for vice president joining together with Tom Cotton on joint efforts to stop further Chinese incursions into the American economic system. And there are many examples like that.
Adam Bremberg (36:26):
Yeah. I mean, when I was still in the White House, before I went to Geneva we’d become aware of the issue about federal retirees, the thrift savings plan, and the retirement plan for federal retirees was about to get shifted over from a more limited international fund-
Bill Walton (36:40):
Well you were the first one to identify this in the White House.
Adam Bremberg (36:43):
Yeah, we worked on it. It took time to get it fixed. It didn’t get fixed till after I was already in Geneva, but it was great to see that through and to Ed’s point, we had bipartisan support. I remember Senator Rubio, Senator Shaheen were both very keen on this and making sure this got fixed. And that did get fixed. And then what you referenced was both President Trump’s executive order last year, and then President Biden’s executive order this year taking DOD’s identification of Chinese companies that are directly supportive of the PLA. And saying that U.S. persons cannot hold those equities. And what’s important is that what I saw in the Biden executive order actually expanded and created a new category, not just those that are related with the PLA, but those related to surveillance issues.
Adam Bremberg (37:31):
So Hikvision which is a huge Chinese company that does all their surveillance technology was added to that list by the Biden administration. And that was a great sign to see that taken. So I totally agree with Ed that this is a bipartisan issue. And one other example of that was the end of last year, Congress passed and the president signed a bill that now requires the end to one of the most ridiculous examples of kind of government enforcement discretion and you’ll remember the old Sarbanes-Oxley reforms from 20 years ago-
Bill Walton (38:03):
And that’s a painful memory.
Adam Bremberg (38:03):
I’m sure, but people have come around to the understanding, you had the development of the PCOB that was now going to audit the auditors to make sure you dealt with that. For the last several years, companies from one country and one country only have been able to flaunt-
Bill Walton (38:20):
Oh, that’s right.
Adam Bremberg (38:21):
The ability to have make their books open to the regulators. And it’s been Chinese listed companies that we allowed to list in the United States in violation of federal law. So what you had though, you had bipartisan support for a bill that said, that’s got to stop, and that’s going to end.
Bill Walton (38:36):
You’re watching the Bills Walton Show. I’m here with Andrew Bremberg and Ed Feulner and we’re talking about China and the fact that China has now become something that maybe the one issue we seem to have bipartisan agreement on.
Bill Walton (38:51):
So in the so many places [crosstalk 00:38:56]. We can talk this whole … I did want to come back to the case you’re making for freedom and all the victims of communism and how bad it really is. Because I think that’s getting blurred when you’ve got 40% of Americans and 50% of kids in their 20s thinking, “Hey, it’s just fine. It’s just people being nice to each other sharing.” That’s not the reality. What are you doing to wake people up?
Ed Feulner (39:22):
Well, we have a teacher’s education program in terms of being able to teach this. Tell us about your trip just recently to Florida, it’s very exciting.
Adam Bremberg (39:33):
It was very exciting. I was just in Florida yesterday where the governor signed several kind of civics education reform bills. One of which was the bill that Victims of Communism had worked in close partnership with members of their state legislature to push forward the requirement that students learn about communism and totalitarian regimes in high school, in their comparative government classes. And learn and understand the flaws and evils of communism when learning about the U.S. government and how it works and including a part of that great legislation also included the development of these profiles and patriotism. That we are going to tell the stories of those that have fled communism as refugees or exiles and made it to the United States. And we’re so thrilled about that part too, because that builds on another project that we’ve been running in Victims of Communism, which has been called our Witness Project. Where we’ve done these really great, I call them mini documentaries, eight to 10 minutes of first person testimonials by those that have been victims of communism. They tell their stories.
Bill Walton (40:36):
And those are all available on your website?
Adam Bremberg (40:38):
Those are on our website, yeah, vctimsofcommunism.org.
Bill Walton (40:43):
So does China have internal weaknesses? I think they do. And does Xi really have the whip hand? How firm is his grasp on power? Because I think of him as the really prime mover of the aggression we’re seeing.
Ed Feulner (41:02):
Whip hand, yes. It’s pretty clear, I think to most outside observers that any dissidents from his leadership is being subdued or even eliminated very clearly inside the communist party.
Bill Walton (41:19):
Is he disappearing people?
Ed Feulner (41:22):
That might be a little strong but we look at some of our friends, we just presented our Truman Reagan Award Bipartisan Award to Jimmy Lai in absentia, the great hero of a free media in Hong Kong. And the day we presented it to him was the day after his third consecutive trial began. And he’s got another four trials I believe pending for what he has done because he had the audacity to publish a newspaper expressing free views and to support pro-democracy movements inside Hong Kong. This is no longer tolerated by the Chinese. So the clamp down is universal.
Ed Feulner (42:07):
I saw in our Daily Digest and VOC, the new Chinese ambassador coming to the United States is no longer going to be Mr. nice guy, Mr. Diplomat. He’s one of the real tough guys from President Xi and he’s going to be much more in your face than the current ambassador has been. So it’s depressing, but at the same time it’s a good challenge for us to remember and to draw more clearly I guess the lines between what we believe in and what the other side believes in. And that ought to be a lesson that the kids should be able to learn. If the kids could start learning real history and everything else.
Bill Walton (42:50):
Well, did he blunder by coming public with his aggression? It seems to me that Chinese are making tremendous progress in filtrating all these different cultural institutions, confucius institutes, the whole coming in the United States. Now everybody likes the Chinese, we do, Americans generally like Chinese. But they’ve got 80 million members of the Chinese Communist Party that don’t necessarily think we’re that great, but it seemed like Xi public with this too soon.
Adam Bremberg (43:20):
Well, I think that’s-
Bill Walton (43:21):
I means they could have invaded us if they waited longer.
Adam Bremberg (43:24):
Well, that’s going to be the huge historical question of, did they come out with that too clear too soon or not? And that’s what we’re going to have to figure out and struggle through the next couple of decades.
Bill Walton (43:32):
What do you think?
Adam Bremberg (43:33):
But I want to just come back to the first question part about China’s biggest vulnerability in the way they perceive it is their own domestic population. They view their domestic population as their own biggest threat. The biggest potential cause for instability in the country, which is why you see such repression by the communist regime, honest people, whether it’s Tibet or the Uyghurs out in Xinjiang, Christians inside, house churches and Christians inside mainland China and what Ed just talked about, the complete lockdown and crushing of freedom in Hong Kong. You talked about our award Jimmy Lai just two weeks ago, which was great. And it was an honor to present the award with you. and then we’ve now seen that Apple daily the newspaper is being crushed and shut down. And that what the regime views as their biggest concern is any competing free thought/ Whether it’s influenced by just by free information or religion or some other ideology that has to be stomped out domestically. And that seems to be their biggest focus.
Ed Feulner (44:45):
We think we have problems here with big tech in terms of subduing certain political perspectives, but boy over there it is absolute. That the Chinese Communist Party controls every single social media outlet and millions of people, literally full-time are sensors. And anybody who dares to put something on their equivalent of Facebook or WeChat or whatever, boy they’re shut down immediately. They’re non-existent.
Bill Walton (45:15):
And by the way, they’re probably watching this show. I’ve done seven or eight shows on China and the chat bots was interesting. Because what they’ll say is “You guys are just grumpy because we’re now the ascendant and you were declining and there’s nothing evil about us, but you’re just looking in the past. We’re the future.” That’s their view. And Xi’s got this thing, I think they’ve really launched, it’s not just Marxism, but they’ve got the century of humiliation where it’s their time to emerge. I mean, did you see that in your dealings with them, with the UN?
Adam Bremberg (45:50):
Oh, absolutely. You saw that theme merge multiple times. Talk about having a real victim complex. I mean they would blame the United States. I heard it directly and then through other countries that that they would blame the United States in particular for holding them down or keeping them back when … I just found it so offensive to imagine over the last 40 years, has there been a single country that has done more, had a more explicit policy to promote the growth and advancement of China more than United States?
Bill Walton (46:22):
Yeah, we’ve been-
Adam Bremberg (46:23):
We’ve been their biggest supporters to help them in every possible way. And they get this why is just outrageous. One point I want to make sure we touch on in terms of what’s happening here-
Bill Walton (46:35):
Yeah, we’ve got a couple of minutes to wrap up here. I think we could go for another five hours-
Adam Bremberg (46:39):
We could go on for hours.
Bill Walton (46:40):
Were running out of … Let’s make these points because I think I want to-
Adam Bremberg (46:45):
All of this happening … I don’t understand people know all of this is happening in the backdrop that China is slated to host the Olympics next year in 2022. And that is just unacceptable. Coming back to where we started on, this is the question of China both of-
Bill Walton (47:01):
That’s the Winter Olympics?
Adam Bremberg (47:02):
Winter Olympics 2022. Going back to the WTO and everything in between, will the international community, will countries around the world, hold China accountable for its bad actions when they make them or not? And my view and perspective has been the biggest problem is China’s bad actions of course, but enabled by the unwillingness or inability of countries at times including the United States, but other countries around the world to hold them accountable for when they act badly. So we’re going to face this question in less than a year. Is the world going to send diplomatic delegations and come and be tools of a domestic propaganda event at the very countries are recognizing there is a genocide. I mean, a million people in concentration camps and a genocide of forced slave labor happening in China.
Ed Feulner (47:57):
Bill, I want to make two points. One is in terms of current Chinese behavior. Yes, it is the genocide. Yes, it is the slave labor. It’s also the forced organ transplants. The horrifying stories. I was in Europe last week, I met with a senior American diplomat who had been in Asia. He said the horror of seeing people walk around, either wearing sunglasses or eye patches because somewhere along the line, their eyes were physically removed. They’re alive. These are real living people. They just take their eyes out and sell them on the international market. I mean, that’s pretty horrifying thought and that’s going on today, but if I had one concluding thought Bill, going back to history, Andrew and I had the opportunity about a couple of weeks ago to have lunch with a Jewish refugee from Romania who got out when Romania was still communist came over, was adopted by Jewish parents in New York city.
Ed Feulner (49:09):
Raised and now very, very concerned about communism, not only in Romania as it was in all of Eastern Europe, but how it still continues around the world. And I said to him very candidly. I said, “Louis,” I said, “This is very, very interesting.” I said, “But you’re a Jew. What about the Holocaust? Wasn’t that awful what happened under Hitler and the Nazis?” And he looked at me very calmly and he said Ed, he said, “Hitler did it to the Jews, the communists do it to everybody.” I thought, wow, what a statement that is about what we’re up against right now.
Adam Bremberg (49:51):
And I would just add to the part about history. I’ve always loved the quote, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And I think what we’re doing at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is rooted in making sure we educate people about what has happened with communism in the 20th century. Because I really feel particularly people my age or younger have never actually been niched. It’s not that they’ve forgotten. They’ve never actually learned the lessons of the evils of communism in the 20th century. So I think educating them and teaching them about that, so that they can draw from those experiences can help inform people as we move forward and deal with the challenges front and center put by communist China today. But if you don’t have that founding and that rooting, it’s going to be very difficult for people to understand, oh well, why do you keep saying the communist party who cares?
Adam Bremberg (50:42):
And I think that’s what seeps into some of this idea that, oh you’re anti China meaning you’re racist or anti-Chinese when that’s the furthest thing from it. I mean as you said, Americans love the Chinese people. It’s the Chinese Communist Party and making that connection and helping people have the background of what that means in seeing what have the totalitarian communist regimes done always for decades throughout the 20th century that caused the deaths of a 100 million people and enslaved billions now.
Ed Feulner (51:12):
Bill, when we open our museum later this year, the theme is a very simple one, remember us. A 100 million people died because of this scourge of this abhorrent philosophy, remember us. And the victims have been everywhere around the world and they deserve being remembered.
Bill Walton (51:36):
Well, we’re going to help them remember it, this to be continued. It seems like the Winter Olympics are a great focal point to get the word out for this because that’s going to be on everybody’s mind. And it seems like that’s a great way to put together a list of all the past current and future oppressions. And I don’t know, I’m all in. Do you have other members of the coalition in this one? There’s some people-
Adam Bremberg (52:03):
Oh yeah, we’ve worked with … I think now we’re well over a 100 other organizations that have spoken out, and written letters and talked about the need for the IOC to move the location-
Bill Walton (52:11):
Well, it seems like because of your background and obviously Ed your background, you did build the world’s greatest think tank.
Ed Feulner (52:16):
Thank you Bill.
Bill Walton (52:17):
That was a little thing you did. Thank you for that. I think there’s a real leadership role for you guys in this, because there are a lot of people interested, but we need a leader I think.
Adam Bremberg (52:31):
Yeah. And I’ll just add from my experience in Geneva, the leader has to be the United States. Without the U.S. leadership, nothing’s going to happen. This is going to be a real challenge and I think opportunity for the United States government now to take this issue on and lead.
Bill Walton (52:46):
Okay. Andrew, Ed, thanks to be continued. I’m sure we’ve got a lot more to talk about. You’ve been watching the Bill Walton Show and I’ve been talking with Dr. Edwin Feulner and honorable Ambassador, Andrew Bremberg about China and communism worldwide and what we intend to raise awareness about that issue. So thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. And we’ll talk next time.
Bill Walton (53:09):
I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Want more, click the subscribe button or head over to the billwaltonshow.com to choose from over a 100 episodes. You can also learn more about our guests on our interesting people page and send us your comments. We read every one and your thoughts help us guide the show. If it’s easier for you to listen and check out our podcast page and subscribe there. In return, we’ll keep you informed about what’s true, what’s right, and what’s next. Thanks for joining.
Episode 139 Highlight 1: We tried to bring China into the WTS to make them more like us. This didn't happen.
Episode 139 Highlight 2: Ed Feulner on why we can never forget the 100 million victims of Communism.
Episode 139 Highlight 3: Great power rivalry with China is vastly complicated. Why? Because our economics and supply chains are so tightly interwoven.
Episode 139 Highlight 4: China is snuffing out a free Hong Kong.
Episode 139 Highlight 5: What does the Chinese Communist Party see as its greatest threat?
Episode 139 Highlight 6: China's scheduled to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Why this must not happen.
Episode 139 Highlight 7: Why the Chinese Communist Party is worse than Hitler.
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