U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser says China is trying to “remake the world’ in its image.
Speaking Wednesday before a group of business leaders in Phoenix, Arizona, Robert O’Brien said U.S. policymakers had naively believed for decades that the Chinese Commnunist Party would move steadily towards democracy as it grew economically, while at the same time downplaying Beijing’s numerous human rights abuses.
O’Brien said China has launched a massive effort to influence opinion within the United States, claiming that people in more than a dozen American cities listen to FM radio stations that broadcast “subtle pro-Beijing propaganda.” One example he cited was a false assertion that the novel coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan late last year was brought into the country by a U.S. soldier.
O’Brien also cited China’s efforts to collect personal data on millions of Americans through cyberhacking of credit bureaus, health insurers, hotel chains and even dating websites.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to know just about everything about you," he said.
O’Brien said the Trump administration has imposed restrictions on Chinese companies that are closely allied with the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence and security apparatus from accessing U.S. data, including tech giant Huawei, which the administration contends will use its new 5G network to spy on Americans.
O’Brien’s speech is part of the administration’s increasingly hardline stance towards China over economic and diplomatic issues, including trade, restrictions on tech giant Huawei from accessing U.S. semiconductor technology, and Beijing’s tightening grip on semiautonomous Hong Kong.
Other high-ranking senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray, are expected to deliver similar speeches challenging China in the immediate future.
O’Brien’s harsh criticism towards China stands in sharp contrast to recent allegations made in a new book by his predecessor, John Bolton, that Trump directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to increase China’s purchase of American agricultural products to help Trump secure votes in farm states in the November 2020 U.S. election, in return for a more favorable tariff rate on Chinese goods.
Bolton also alleges that Trump approved of Xi’s explanation for building internment camps for as many as one million Uighur Muslims, an ethnic minority in Xinjiang