China has an enormous influence on Americans today, punishing those who oppose the communist regime and rewarding those who support it, author and China expert Michael Pillsbury says on the latest episode of “The Kevin Roberts Show.” 

“This is the Chinese influence strategy toward the United States,” Pillsbury tells the show’s host, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.) 

“They do two things,” Pillsbury says of China’s leaders. “They focus on anybody who says China is a threat and if they can punish that person, or their company, or their family, they will do it. … On the other side, they reward really handsomely those who help China.” 

America shouldn’t aid China’s economic growth as much as we do now, says Pillsbury, who joined The Heritage Foundation in January as senior fellow for China strategy. A veteran Defense Department consultant, he is the author of the bestseller “The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower.”  

America gives secrets away to the Chinese Communist Party while expecting nothing in return, he argues.

“We are helping China far more than they’re helping us,” Pillsbury says. “In fact, they are undermining us.” 

Pillsbury, an architect of the Trump administration’s China policy, is the former director for Chinese strategy at Hudson Institute. He also has been a Defense Department official and Senate staffer.

“Americans, for good and for ill, are very short-term strategic thinkers, including in foreign policy,” Roberts says on the podcast. “The Chinese are the opposite. And this is a very different adversary than [we’ve] ever faced in our history.” 

China, Roberts adds, steals opponents’ “ideas and technology for a strategic purpose.” 

Studying the history of Chinese dynasties would help Americans better understand China, Pillsbury suggests, saying that they should not be fooled by China. 

“The Chinese focus is on the story of how each new emperor fooled the old emperor by saying, ‘I’m not a threat,’” he explains. “‘I want to help you. I want to be in a coalition with you.’” 

“They’re quite sensitive to not stimulate the sense of a China threat in a country like ours,” Pillsbury says.  

Some argue that China is going to collapse, he notes, but the regime has been increasing its stockpile of weapons for years.  

“We are doing an excellent job of confusing ourselves about China,” Pillsbury says. “For every red-blooded, China-threat-theory person, there are about 10 on the other side.” 

Some argue that China isn’t a threat, he says, because the communist regime doesn’t believe in God or free markets.  

“We Americans have always ruled the world because we don’t do any of these things. We have religion and innovation and freedom and free markets,” Pillsbury says. “So, we’ve talked ourselves into thinking if there is a threat, it’s not going to last very long.” 

Education can allow America to prevail over the China threat, he adds.  

“The Heritage Foundation can play a crucial role in the educational front, just [by] already having publications that shine a spotlight on Chinese behavior and then attempt to give an explanation.” 

Pillsbury calls for an index of U.S.-China competition.  

“We don’t have an index yet of how the U.S. and China are doing in this strategic competition,” he says on the podcast. “If you don’t have a scorecard, you don’t know who’s ahead. And this is in China’s interest to conceal really big breakthroughs from us, in part because they can go steal the new idea or buy the new idea and bring it down as they talk about it.” 

“They’re starting to challenge us on the number of nuclear weapons,” he said. “This was the core of the Cold War.” 

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