China under Communist Party rule poses an existential threat and must be countered with stronger defense, economic, and political measures, according to a new committee of experts.
Former government, military, and intelligence leaders joined by business leaders and human rights advocates warned during an inaugural press briefing that Communist China poses the most dangerous threat to the United States and the world.
Creation of the Committee on the Present Danger-China follows three earlier iterations of the storied organization that played influential roles in American national security policy beginning in the 1950s and throughout the Cold War and after.
The panel includes a blue-ribbon roster of 43 experts including former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former Education Secretary William Bennett, former Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence ret. Lt. Gen. Gerald Boykin, and former Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.).
Other notable figures include University of Pennsylvania China specialist Arthur Waldron, strategic missile defense expert Henry Cooper, Chinese Christian activist Bob Fu, former Voice of America China broadcaster Sasha Gong, and retired Navy Capt. James Fanell, former intelligence director for the Pacific Fleet.
One of the first actions by the committee was to issue a warning on the anticipated U.S.-China trade deal that is said to be close to being completed.
"The trade deal the Trump administration is now negotiating with China is expected to address its Communist Party's longstanding practice of stealing American intellectual property—the life-blood of our information-based economy and a key component of our national security," the statement said.
"It remains to be seen whether any new commitments from the Chinese to end this practice will be honored since past ones have not."
Frank Gaffney, vice chairman of the Committee, said even if a trade deal is reached and China honors its commitments, "we are still facing a world of hurt at their hands."
"We must address these other dimensions of the problem that ultimately emanate from the character of the communist regime, mainly that it is ruled, brutally, in a totalitarian fashion, by the Chinese Communist Party," Gaffney said.
Committee chairman Brian Kennedy said the independent, non-partisan group will seek to educate and inform the American public and government policymakers regarding the threat from China ruled by the Communist Party of China.
The threat includes a large-scale military buildup, active information and political warfare that targets the American people, business, political, and media elites, and Beijing's aggressive cyber and economic warfare.
"The Committee takes no ideological point
of view, rather it relies on the facts as reasonable people can understand them," Kennedy said. "Armed with these facts, the Committee believes the common sense of the American people will demand from their elected officials that all reasonable measures be taken to defend the United States, our economic interests, and the security of the American people."
Woolsey, former CIA director in the administration of Bill Clinton, said China is seeking to defeat the United States according to the dictums of the ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu—without having to engage in a major conflict.
"We have to be able to turn away Chinese domination of our Internet," Woolsey said, noting efforts by China's Huawei Technologies and other firms to control the emerging 5G telecommunications technology.
Boykin, undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, said the Chinese intelligence threat has increased rapidly and through cyber attacks stolen or reverse-engineered large amounts of advanced American technology.
The Chinese strategy against the United States was outlined in a 1999 book by two People's Liberation Army colonels called Unrestricted Warfare. The book called for using all forms of warfare—military, diplomatic, economic, financial, and even terrorism—to win wars.
The book "laid out the absolute road-map for how they intended to take over America, and they are in the process of doing everything they said they wanted to do in that treatise," Boykin said.
Boykin said a counterintelligence briefing he received at the Pentagon revealed Chinese intelligence agencies had planted spies throughout the United States.
"Every university in America is penetrated [by Chinese agents]," he said. "Every high-tech company in America is penetrated by intelligence agents—even the intel community itself has been penetrated."
The researchers are focused on obtaining American technology. China's efforts to undermine the United States are "very sophisticated," the retired three-star Special Forces general said.
Former Pentagon nuclear policymaker Mark Schneider said China's nuclear arsenal is rapidly modernizing with new missiles, bombers, and submarines.
China's nuclear arms are built and stored in a massive 3,000-mile-long tunnel complex dubbed the Great Underground Wall and the actual numbers of Chinese warheads in the arsenal is unknown.
"Anyone who says they know how many nuclear warheads China has is either an idiot or a liar," Schneider said.
Lianchao Han, a former Senate staff member and pro-democracy advocate, said China poses the most serious threat facing the United States yet many Americans are unaware of the danger.
"Engagement and appeasement advocates continue to push for the failed China policies," Han said. "So it is our duty to inform and educate the American public and decision makers to what the [Chinese Communist Party] really is, what they intend to do, and why they are so dangerous."
The new Committee is modeled after the original Committee on the Present Danger first formed in 1950s to support President Harry Truman's national security policies designed to address the "present danger" posed by an aggressive Soviet Union.
That committee was led by James B. Conant, who was involved in developing the first U.S. nuclear weapons, and Tracy Voorhees, an undersecretary of the Army. It included more than 50 experts, academics, and other figures, including William Donovan, the wartime intelligence chief and head of the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA. Broadcast journalist Edward R. Morrow was also a member.
In the 1970s, a second Committee on the Present Danger was set up with 141 board members to address national security threats to the United States.
The Committee called for hardline policies toward the Soviet Union and its positions formed the basis for President Ronald Reagan’s peace-through-strength posture. A total of 33 members of the Committee were key players in national security positions within the Reagan administration. Reagan was a member in 1979.
Other Committee participants in the Reagan administration included CIA Director William Casey, National Security Adviser Richard V. Allen, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick, Navy Secretary John Lehman, Secretary of State George Shultz ,and Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle.
Chet Nagle, a former Navy pilot during the Cold War and a member of the 1970s version of the Committee, said earlier panels were formidable groups initially focused on the Soviet Union and then in the early 2000s the group emphasized countering international terrorism.
"Now another existential threat to America has arisen," Nagle said of China. "That threat is Communist China's plan to dominate the United States and ultimately the entire world.
The Committee's founding statement says: "As with the Soviet Union in the past, Communist China represents an existential and ideological threat to the United States and to the idea of freedom—one that requires a new American consensus regarding the policies and priorities required to defeat this threat."
To that end the group will work together with a diverse group of experts on China, national security practitioners, human rights and religious freedom activists, and others.