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Howard Phillips: U.S. Builds China's War Machine

Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM

In an exclusive interview with NewsMax.com, Howard Phillips, president of The Conservative Caucus Foundation (TCCF), stopped just short of predicting outright war between the United States and China in the near future, "although that can change at any time, depending on unforeseeable circumstances, which affect the decision-making process.”

"Communist China is embarked on a long-term plan, the outcome of which, they hope, will lead to a correlation of forces between the United States and the People’s Republic of China,” said Phillips, the 2000 presidential nominee of the Constitution Party and the Independent American Party.

Having just led a delegation of 23 on a 12-day tour of Asia in late August, including China, Phillips discussed a wide range of economic, diplomatic and military threats from Beijing. The longtime leader of a part of the conservative movement that insists on sticking to basic principles is convinced the U.S. needs, first and foremost, to stop helping the Chinese eclipse this country in all three of the above categories. The U.S. Taxpayers Alliance (USTA) co-hosted the trip with TCCF.

"It’s very much in their interest to continue receiving financial support from the United States and other Western governments, and from private sector organizations throughout the West,” he said.

Whereas the civilian leadership is "biding its time until it feels it is militarily and economically stronger and the United States is comparatively weaker,” the military leadership "has a greater sense of impatience in achieving its objectives, particularly with respect to Taiwan.”

Furthermore, the Chinese military "is getting stronger month by month, year by year.” That includes a 17 percent boost in military spending in this past year. Mock exercises and the addition of equipment and technology are means by which the militarists in China seek to "affect the morale of the free Chinese on Taiwan.”

The leaders of every major political party in Taiwan told the delegation "they wish to avoid a provocation to the People’s Republic of China. That defensive posture in itself is "a victory for the Chinese communists,” in Phillips’ view.

The thrust of his perspective is the U.S. needs to give the Taiwanese confidence that the U.S. is prepared to fully support them. The U.S. should thus "redefine its policy toward Red China and the relationship between Taiwan and the mainland.”

"If the United States manifests indifference, as [Truman’s Secretary of State] Dean Acheson did when he said [a few months before the outbreak of the Korean War] that Korea is outside America’s defense perimeter, that’s temptation to aggressors.”

Further, Taiwan should "carefully consider asserting the independent sovereignty of the Republic of China.”

That view flies in the face of the policy of every recent U.S. president, but Phillips sees that precise measure of firmness as a necessity now while "it is less convenient for the PRC to initiate military action than it might later be.”

That such firmness is "outmoded” was reinforced during a discussion at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. The director of that group’s Institute for American Studies told his U.S. visitors that their anti-communist views in support of the Taiwan government "were inconsistent with the polices of every president since Richard Nixon.”

Since Nixon’s famous rapprochement with Communist China, the United States has said that it believes in "One China, Two Systems.” But the Communist Chinese "define that differently, perhaps than Richard Nixon and [his successors].” China sees "One China” including both the mainland and Taiwan.

The U.S., on the other hand has said it believes that "One China” means the Chinese people have a common heritage, even while rejecting the notion of the Chinese Communist Party having control "over all elements of the Chinese people.”

This ambivalence has allowed communist China to define our policy for us. They have "asserted their definition of our policy. And we have not consistently rebutted their definition” to assert our policy.

Even presidents more desirous of maintaining a firm policy have been foiled by career diplomats. As Phillips recalled, when President Ronald Reagan saw his China policy discussed by Dan Rather on the "CBS Evening News," he called Rather to complain. Rather told him that the language prepared by the State Department was such as to be susceptible to an interpretation favored by the communist Chinese.

Phillips says the Shanghai American Studies director "was correct in the sense that we [The Conservative Caucus Foundation] believe that communist regimes are never legitimate and that Taiwan is the sovereign representative of those ideas of liberty with which the American people are most comfortable.”

As for trade with mainland regime, TCCF’s leader told NewsMax that "without the American taxpayer, communist China would be far less a threat to U.S. vital interests than it now is.” Further, he is "more convinced than ever that ‘most favored nation’ status for communist China, which gave them an $84 billion trade advantage last year, is a horrendous mistake.”

And this view comes after TCCF/USTA visits to World Bank headquarters, development projects in Beijing, talks with "a number of journalists,” people at the General Motors plant in Shanghai, people in and out of government in Singapore, Taiwan, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and elsewhere.

U.S. taxpayer assistance to the Chinese regime through the World Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the Asian Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank is "injurious to the security interests of our own country.”

A recent NewsMax report said that the FBI failed to vigorously pursue an investigation of Chinese spying in the U.S. because the bureau was hoping to establish a field office in China.

Phillips cited that as an example that, "unfortunately, too many decision-makers in government, the executive, as well as the legislative branch, fail to believe what the communist Chinese themselves say about the United States, about their own [China’s] policies, their own purposes.” Bottom line: the communist Chinese have military and economic objectives in conflict with the "the vital interests of the United States of America.”

Phillips and his colleagues observed many people in the PRC who think "they can destroy the morale of the people on Taiwan and achieve their objectives without armed conflict.”

Overt hostility to the United States is avoided simply because "that would cut off their access to Western financial resources and Western technology.”

The TCCF/USTA delegation was repeatedly told by more than one communist official, "You know, we can wait, whether the issue is the Spratley Islands or Taiwan.”

Phillips, who has been severely critical of the foreign policy approaches of both major parties, does see some hope in that "Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld and others in the [Bush] administration recognize that peace through strength is still the best policy.”

A strong U.S. presence in the South China Sea in the Pacific "encourages stability.”

As long as Taiwan "maintains its sovereignty, independent of control by the Communist Party Central Committee on the mainland, it constitutes a barrier to hegemonic design by the Beijing leadership.” Otherwise, U.S. influence in the Pacific will be eclipsed by Red Chinese influence.

Even Phillips’ strongest critics credit him with intellectual honesty. The Washington establishment has reached a "consensus” that anything called "free trade” is good. But he still reminds conservatives of their roots on this issue, especially when it comes to dealing with China or other communist nations.

While Washington frets over whether China is willing to become a full-fledged rule-abiding member of the World Trade Organization, the "no sacred cows” approach of Phillips impels him to tell NewsMax.com that "it is unconstitutional for the United States to belong to the World Trade Organization.” Forget China, he says. What are we doing there?

"Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution,” he noted, "makes it clear that Congress shall regulate commerce with foreign nations.” He believes Congress has no constitutional authority "to surrender decision-making responsibilities to NAFTA or the World Trade Organization” and the international socialist bureaucrats who presume to dictate to the United States what trade policies it shall implement. Further, Phillips sees President Bush’s "fast track” as another "surrender” of Congress’s legislative responsibilities.

That puts him in the same boat with the left-wing AFL-CIO on this particular issue. But he says: "Their reasoning is different than mine. My reasons are constitutional.”

If Phillips could spend a few minutes in the Oval Office with Bush, here is what he would say:

Any trepidation among the 23 anti-communist conservatives visiting "the belly of the beast,” so to speak? China has been known to toss American citizens in its dungeons.

"I think our spouses were more concerned than we were. [But] we were surprised at the reception we received.”

Everywhere they went, "it was not unusual for a communist official to say: ‘Why are you here? We have read your Web site, and you are a strong anti-communist.’”

Phillips’ response was that the group was there "to see firsthand what was happening” and also because "President Bush will be coming to China several weeks from now,” and the group’s members want to be able to comment authoritatively "in the context of his visit.”

There was a tense moment when Phillips and the speaker of the Chinese congress engaged in an extended discussion regarding Taiwan. Phillips said that if Puerto Ricans should vote for independence, he had no doubt the U.S, would honor that. Would China honor a similar assertion by the people on Taiwan?

"Well, that set him off. Until then, the conversation had been going very quickly. But at that point, he went on for a long, long time, explaining why this was different and a non-negotiable issue.”

The TCCF leader had crossed over the Chinese line of "pre-emptive suppositions” before discussions can begin. President Bush will be expected on his visit to "kow-tow to their presuppositions.” Phillips fears that trade and other issues; the president already "has done a series of kowtows.”

The conservative leader and his entourage have been debriefed "extensively” by U.S. embassies or consulates in virtually every city they visited. A key member of the delegation, Lt. Gen. Gordon Sumner (Ret.), an ambassador-at-large in the Reagan years, enjoys a very high security clearance and is obliged to report back on his activities after the trip.

That would no doubt include visits the TCCF/USTA had with members of the "Christian underground” in China. The group supplied them with Bibles. In contrast, the leaders of the "official” Christian Church in Beijing, when reminded of specific biblical passages that conflicted with government policy, retreated behind the argument that forced abortions, for example, are nonetheless "popular with the people.”

Not that any popular referendum has been held, of course.

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In an exclusive interview with NewsMax.com, Howard Phillips, president of The Conservative Caucus Foundation (TCCF), stopped just short of predicting outright war between the United States and China in the near future, although that can change at any time, depending on...
Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM
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