Friends and Enemies Around the Globe

Heritage Explains

Friends and Enemies Around the Globe

Heritage Explains: China | Episode 6

What are the relationships that China has with its neighbors? And how can we influence those relationships to ensure peace? For that, we turn to our friend, Director of the Asian Studies Center here at The Heritage Foundation, Jeff Smith.

John Popp: From The Heritage Foundation, this is Heritage Explains.

Mark Guiney: Most Americans would probably be familiar with the names of Frederick Douglass, the famous black abolitionist and statesman, and Susan B. Anthony, the tireless advocate for women's rights. But most Americans probably wouldn't know that because of the similarity of their work. The two were well acquainted with each other and actually had a friendship of many years, but their friendship was slightly complicated. They were both passionate people whose goals were sometimes at odds with one another.

There's a story of a meeting they both attended in 1869 where Anthony said that as much as she empathized with Douglass's experiences as a black man and a former slave, that he would never "exchange his sex and color to be a white woman". Douglass rose up in protest and said, will you allow me a question? Yes, Susan B. Anthony replied Anything for a fight today.

Relationships are complicated and defined by a lot of things. One of the most important I think, is how physically close we are to one another. Physical proximity creates relationships and physical distance can just as easily cause those relationships to weather away. When we think back on the closeness that we enjoyed with high school classmates, summer camp friends, college roommates, coworkers from jobs we no longer have. Those were some really great times and we swore that we would always maintain those relationships.
But when there's physical distance, when we're not together every day in high school or summer camp or college or that job, those relationships get much harder to maintain. It works both ways though. While being physically close to someone can lead to a friendship, it can also make enemies.

Today on Heritage Explains, we're going to talk about both situations, not at the level of individual human beings, but at the level of nations. In the course of this series, we've talked about many aspects of the problem America faces in dealing with the Chinese Communist Party. We've used Heritage's recent report, winning the New Cold War, a plan for countering China as a framework to do this.

And we've arrived at the last section, exercise, global leadership. What are the relationships that China has with its neighbors and how can we influence those relationships to ensure peace? For that, we turn to our friend, director of the Asian Study Center here at The Heritage Foundation, Jeff Smith. Jeff Smith, we're here to take a trip around the world with you today.

Jeff Smith: It's good to be here again.

Guiney: We've talked so far in the show about ways do we want to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable and most of them having to do with things we're doing here at home. But for our last episode, we want to get into what we need to do globally to hold China accountable outside the borders of the United States. Well, a lot of these nations which are connected to China, which I guess at this point is really all of them in one way or another, but we're going to try and focus on some that have a unique relationship.

And so I guess the best place to start is with Taiwan. We've already talked in episode four about in Taiwan, it's the place where China and U.S. are most likely to clash because it's a strategic and technologically valuable location. For our listeners who might have missed that episode or need a little refresher, can you kind of give us the bird's eye view on Taiwan before we move on?

Smith: Yeah. So Taiwan is a small island off the southeastern coast of China that Beijing believes is a part of sovereign Chinese territory. And it is a complex history there. We don't have enough time to get into, but it has essentially been a self-governing island for decades now. And that the Chinese Communist Party has basically committed itself to reunification with the island in one form or another, up to including an invasion of Taiwan.

And there's been a lot of chatter recently based on reporting that Xi Jinping has ordered the Chinese military to be ready to launch some kind of operation to retake Taiwan by 2027. Now, that doesn't mean we have confidence that they're 100% going to go in 2027, but it does mean they're nearing the point at which they believe they'll have the military capability to do so, that the balance of power has shifted in their favor. And if chairman Xi gives the PLA the green light that he wants to be confident that they can do that.

So we believe that we're entering a sort of dangerous period in the Taiwan Strait where our once considerable military advantage has shrunk and where the potential for escalation or some kind of misadventure by the PLA is growing significantly. And because that could lead to such a catastrophic conflict. And as you mentioned, when we sit back and think about scenarios in which the U.S. and China could find themselves at war, this is probably the most likely scenario because the consequences would be so catastrophic.

Everyone is laser focused on the military balance in the Taiwan Strait. What are China's intentions? What do we have to do there to deter China? What do we have to do to get Taiwan to beef up its own military capabilities to better be able to defend itself and deterrent invasion? How do we need to preposition us forces in the region? What's the right deterrence posture?

And so it's frankly, it's sucking up a lot of oxygen in Washington DC and in the Pentagon, but rightly so because the consequences could be so grave. Taiwan is certainly important focus of the new Cold War, China paper that we release that we've been discussing lately. One of the significant recommendations we make is that Congress passed something called the Taiwan Relations Act, which authorized up to $10 billion in U.S. military assistance to Taiwan over five years.

But that money has yet to be appropriated and actually spent. And so we are urging Congress to act and to act decisively and to begin to deliver to Taiwan not only new military platforms, but frankly there's a backlog of $19 billion worth of military hardware that Taiwan has bought from the U.S. that has not been delivered yet. And so if we're really worried about a Chinese invasion, but the time to act and deter such an invasion is now.

Guiney: Isn't there a proverb? I think it might be a Chinese proverb that goes, "the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago". The second best time is now.

Smith: Yeah. I think that that applies in this situation, 20 years ago would've been an even better time to start preparing for this. But we are entering a volatile situation. And one of the things that concerns military planners is that the military balance is shifting more in China's favor lately, but China also faces several long-term challenges, demographic challenges, public health challenges, economic challenges.

So what if China concludes that it's reaching its maximum point of leverage over the United States that this is the best it's going to get because over the longer term it's going to have to grapple with these internal issues. And if it's ever going to launch an invasion of Taiwan, now is that sort of Goldilocks window.

I think ultimately the chances that China's going to go tomorrow or next year or even the year after are maybe less than 50%, but even if they're 5% or 10%, the consequences would cripple the global economy, result in tremendous loss of life and devastation for both countries, for all parties involved, that we need to do everything in our power to deter the single greatest threat to global peace instability, and we have to do it now.

Guiney: So we've talked about Taiwan, but Asia by and large is a big place. And there's three different chunks we want to talk about. We want to talk about Northeast Asia, which includes Japan, North and South Korea, Southeast Asia, with places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and then South Asia, which would include India, Pakistan. So we want to treat those as three different sort of zones. So first, can you talk a little bit about Japan, North and South Korea?

Smith: Yeah. Two of those three are some of America's closest and most valuable partners in the entire world. That's South Korea and Japan and the South Korean president is in Washington right now. There's a very sizable U.S. military force in both countries. Where in South Korea, largely to deter North Korea from taking any provocative action against South Korea. Those two countries are still technically in a state of war. And a lot of our partnership with South Korea revolves around mitigating or limiting the threat from North Korea, both to the United States, to South Korea, to Japan, to the region.

And of course North Korea is a nuclear power now it's a country that is probably the most repressive, closed, hermetic society in the world, a very backwards country, a very totalitarian and inward looking country, but a very threatening country which has very considerable military capabilities and which is constantly threatening war against our democratic allies, South Korea, threatening the United States and is developing a significant nuclear capability and long range ballistic missile capability to the point where they can actually threaten the U.S. territory in the Pacific and potentially even the U.S. homeland.

So it's a significant and growing threat, and our longstanding partnership with South Korea is vital to containing that threat. Japan is also one of our oldest and strongest allies in the region. Japan is much more focused on the China threat. It is concerned about North Korea and has been a target of North Korean threats before. But Japan is among all of our Asian partners, probably the most concerned about China's rise and it's increasingly belligerent behavior.

And frankly, it was Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who first championed the concept of this Quad coalition of Indo-Pacific democracies working together amid China's increasingly belligerent rise. It was the Japanese prime minister who first came up with the idea of the free and open Indo-Pacific that we've since adopted here in the U.S.

Guiney: What does that mean?

Smith: The free and open Indo-Pacific is essentially a concept for some people, a strategy that signifies we view the operating system of the Indo-Pacific as one of freedom and openness. So freedom of navigation has to apply across the Indo-Pacific. We have a set of rules about where ships can and can't go. Those things should be determined by rules and laws, not by might makes, right.

So free and open for trade free and open for shipping it means transparency, ideally democracy, it means open contracts, not debt trap diplomacy. And so this idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific is essentially we need to keep the Indo-Pacific under this free and open operating system that has been governing it for decades and by the way, producing a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific for decades. And we have to defend that operating system against new threats and challenges. And right now the biggest threat and challenge to that system is China's rise.

So the Japanese have created the conceptual framework for why China's rise is posing such a challenge to the whole region and also what we should do to respond. And that is get together these four Indo-Pacific democracies, Japan, India, the U.S. and Australia to act in some ways as the guardians of that system. So Japan has been doing a lot conceptually on the China challenge. It's also begun to much more vigorously enhance its own military capabilities and expand the room to do more with the United States militarily.

So Japan is constrained by a post-war constitution that effectively prevented it from building a normal military. It instead could only build a self-defense force, but it's increasingly reinterpreting that constitution to allow it to do more traditional military type activities including with the U.S. And so it's really been in part driven by fear of what China's doing has been re-arming itself and integrating itself with the U.S. and other allies to prepare for contingencies in China's scenarios.

Guiney: Are we worried about North Korea?

Smith: Yeah, we are worried about North Korea because the nuclear program keeps expanding and the ballistic missile ranges keep increasing. And unfortunately multiple presidential administrations have really been unable to find a way to solve this challenge, solve this problem. Nobody wants to go the military intervention route because the consequences would be catastrophic. But we've been unable to find any kind of diplomatic framework or basket of economic and political incentives to either coerce North Korea to roll back these programs and its provocative behavior or entice it to pursue a more peaceful path. So it's a very intractable problem that unfortunately has only been getting worse.

Guiney: So what about places like Southeast Asia, we moved south to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, those kinds of areas. How has China been moving in that area and what do we need to do to respond?

Smith: Good question. So China's economic engagement with ASEAN, which is the association of Southeast Asian nations, is the regional grouping of all the Southeast Asian capitals. China's economic expansion into that region has been vast and dramatic to the point where China is now the largest trading partner for most of those countries. Perhaps that should not be so surprising because it's in China's immediate neighborhood, it's in China's backyard. So you would expect that in Central America or South America probably we have a greater trading relationship with a lot of these countries.

Nevertheless, China's influence has been expanding considerably at both an economic and political level. It's a complex situation though where you have this group of Southeast Asian capitals, but they're very different in how they approach the U.S. and China. So on one end of the spectrum, you have the Philippines, which is a treaty ally of the United States. We have access to military bases there. They're essentially one of our closest friends in the region, and they're very concerned about China because they have a sharp territorial dispute that is active, a China claims territory that falls within the Philippines exclusive economic zone. They've sparred over this, these competing claims before, and the Philippines is very concerned.

At the other end of the spectrum. In this group you have countries like Cambodia and Laos, which are arguably some of China's closest friends in the region. And some of them host significant Chinese political and economic presence and potentially even military presence. They essentially are always supportive of China in any international forums internally, inside ASEAN they're always defending China and preventing the group from taking significant action against China.

Guiney: And we talked in the last episode about some of the dynamics that cause that to be so China has a lot of pull in the region and standing up to China would be a huge economic and potentially military hit for a lot of these nations.

Smith: Yes, and China is shameless about beating down any country that speaks ill of it or does anything against what China perceived to be in its national interests. And so it's very good at wielding a stick in coercing countries to align with its priorities. So you've got the Philippines in the pro U.S. camp, and then you've got Laos and Cambodia on the other end of the spectrum.

And then in the middle you've got countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, which are representative of a lot of countries in the region, which kind of want the best of both worlds. Their position is essentially keep us out of this fight between you and China. Don't make us choose sides. The Americans should stay here and provide security and make sure China doesn't do anything too crazy, but we are dependent on China for our economic future and we don't want you Americans to do anything that's going to start a war.

So kind of stay in this Goldilocks position where the U.S. provides security, China provides prosperity and everyone's happy and don't get into a new Cold War and don't make us pick sides. Now we view that as fairly naive that you're putting the US and China on the same pedestal when China's actually claiming your territory. Right? China is, even for Indonesia and Malaysia, there are overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea. China is in many ways clearly the aggressor, but these countries desperately want to avoid standing up to China and paying a political or economic cost for doing so.

And so they're trying to keep their head down and keep the money coming in and hope the Americans stick around long enough to prevent the Chinese from doing anything too crazy. Again, many of us think that's naive, but that is the reality of the state of play in Southeast Asia, these balancing between the different poles and trying to get the best of all worlds.

Guiney: So you mentioned you have the China loyalists, you have the American loyalists, you have the folks in between. Is there really a way for us to sway that balance to bring more people over towards the American way of thinking?

Smith: There's always more we can do for the Southeast Asians. They place a lot of importance on ASEAN diplomatic venues and symmetry, and they're constantly hammering the fact that the Chinese show up to our meetings and have a presence and send high level representation and you don't. And it shows that China values us and diplomacy, well, of course it's like three hours away from China and 18 hours away from the U.S. so it's a little easier for the Chinese to show up at these meetings.

But could we be a little more diplomatically engaged? Yes. Could we be more economically engaged? For the Southeast Asians, multilateral trading agreements are important, and we've been out of the TPP, we've been out of RCEP, we've been out of these regional free trade agreements. Unfortunately that's not even an option because the political environment in the U.S. is simply not supportive of these big ticket free trade agreements.

That said, even at a bilateral level, we could do more, but would we be capable of pulling them over to our side? I'm a bit skeptical. I think the only thing that will do that is China overplaying its hand. So what we have seen is regional capitals will respond when China gets too aggressive and it's done that with the Philippines at times. It's come close to doing that with Vietnam and it's also harassing Indonesian warships and Malaysian fishermen, and it's doing these sort of provocative activities around the edges.

And it is possible that it ends up getting even more aggressive and crossing some red lines at which point these countries are going to say, "okay, we need to do more with the U.S. That's the only way to deter these guys".

Guiney: So we've talked about the Quad, the alliance between the United States, Japan, Australia, India, and that kind of brings us to South Asia, which a lot of people I guess don't think of India and Pakistan as being part of Asia, but in fact they are. And we have a somewhat unique relationship with these nations.

Smith: Yeah, definitely. And a very different relationship. We have a different relationship with India and Pakistan and India and Pakistan have a very different relationship with China, and there's a lot to unpack there. But India has essentially gone from being a sort of estranged democracy that was leaning pro-Russia during the pro-Soviet Union during the Cold War, to now being one of America's strongest non-treaty ally partners.

So we don't have a formal treaty alliance with India. They don't do treaty alliances, but short of a treaty alliance, there's actually a lot you can do together, and India now conducts more military exercises with us than any other country. It's purchased over 20 billion in U.S. military hardware over the past 15 years. We have signed four foundational military agreements, which allow us to do all kinds of things from refueling each other's warships at sea or in air to sharing encrypted communications equipment and allowing us to talk to each other over secure channels, which is important, of course in wartime. We have access to each other's military bases under certain conditions.
So we've grown very close strategically and militarily with India over the past 15 years. And it's no secret that shared and mutual concerns about China or have been a sort of animating variable in that equation. The Indians, of course, have one of the longest disputed borders in the world with China. They went to war over this border dispute in 1962, and for the past several decades have been unable to resolve this border dispute, which crosses through the Himalayas through relatively barren territory in the Himalayas.

It's been outstanding, but relatively stable and well managed since the 1962 border war. But over the past decade, that has really changed, and you've seen aggressive Chinese tactics and pressure along this disputed Himalayan border that has really alarmed India. And in 2020 they had a flare up at the disputed border that resulted in casualties, 20 Indian soldiers were killed. You had patrols from both countries, fighting each other in hand to hand mortal combat with spikes and clubs and sticks beating each other in the middle of the night to death.

Guiney: Why because their pads just crossed when they were on patrol and assumed one another to be in one another's territory?

Smith: In a sense, yes. The Chinese had essentially moved across what was believed to be the Line of Actual Control. So there's not actually a border up there that's demarcated. You've got the Indian saying, "well, we think our border goes up to there". And the Chinese saying, "well, we think the border's there". And so they patrol in some places in the same place. And in 2020 you had the Chinese essentially make some very provocative moves to across several points at the border move forward beyond where they had even patrolled before and set up shop.

And that led to a series of clashes and diplomatic dust ups. And one night it descended into violence. The Indian public has always been skeptical of China. I think they've viewed it as their number one threat, or maybe number two right after Pakistan. But after Indian soldiers come home in body bags, now the public perception really shifts.

And interestingly, shortly after that, India banned TikTok and a number of other Chinese apps and really began taking a much harder line against China in a lot of forums and decided to do more with the Quad. And China has in many ways really alienated India, which is now this year a lot of demographic experts believe that India overtook China as the most populous country in the world.
It's now the third largest defense budget in the world after only the U.S. and China. Before this decade's over, it'll probably have the third largest economy in the world. So this is a big, big player and will be for the foreseeable future. It's only going to grow up and at some point may even catch China. And so the United States building this strategic partnership with India, and China having fundamentally alienated a generation of Indians, I think will have a significant impact on the sort of long-term geopolitical balance of power, both in the Indo-Pacific but globally.

At the complete other end of the spectrum you of Pakistan. And we've had our own very troubled history with Pakistan. It was a Cold War ally against the Soviet Union. They technically partnered with us after nine 11 in the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, but they also were playing a double game supporting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, even as they were ostensibly cooperating with us. President Trump famously cut off all aid to Pakistan because they're playing this double game. So that's a contentious relationship now.

But as opposed to India, which is now hostile to China, Pakistan is arguably one of China's oldest and closest friends. And so they collaborate a lot on economics, on military, and even on nuclear. China has aided Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, and China of course has been building the China Pakistan economic corridor, which is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure corridor, which will link western China to the Indian Ocean. And of course the China Pakistan close ties further aggravates India because India and Pakistan are historic rivals.

And now India's got both of its rivals on one to the east and one to the west that are collaborating with each other and it feels increasingly encircled. So you've got multiple layers of geopolitical rivalries and factions and dynamics for the U.S. to navigate in South Asia. But one thing is very clear, and that's China's presence in the region has been growing very considerably. And of course that has India agitated and concerned.

But it's not just Pakistan, it's also the smaller countries of South Asia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Maldives in all of these countries. China was a very marginal player for virtually all of the 20th century. And only in the past 10 years has it really begun gaining a diplomatic and economic, and in some cases, small military foothold and its sphere of influence there is expanding considerably causing more friction with India.

Guiney: What about the Pacific Islands? Stuff like Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Guam, Samoa, all of these small nations, even Hawaii, which is of course is not a nation kind of cover the Pacific Ocean. What's the state of play there? Has China made inroads there and what has been our response?

Smith: Very good question. Yeah. The Pacific Islands are of course geo-strategically very important. They played a very important role in World War II and the U.S. Pacific campaign against the Japanese. They're like stepping stones, incredible distances between the U.S. West Coast and East Asia and the Pacific Islands are stepping stones to the rest of Asia for the United States.

China's presence there, unsurprisingly has been growing significantly. Of course, it always starts with economics, growing trade, growing investment, but as of late, it's taken on even a military dimension. And China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in recent years that has raised a lot of eyebrows about China's expanding security presence and influence there. It's also in some ways helped motivate the United States, which has its own unique security packs called COFA with three of the Pacific Island nations in the larger family of Pacific Islands.

Guiney: Is that an abbreviation? COFA?

Smith: Yeah, Compact of Free Association. So these three Pacific Islands are essentially formed a special relationship with the United States in which we provide for their security. Citizens of these countries can actually serve in the United States military. We provide for their security and a number of other things we even provide for their mail system. The U.S. Postal Service is the one that provides their mail, and in return, we have essentially unfettered access to military facilities on the islands and also the right of denial to others. So these COFA agreements are term limited agreements, and ironically, the three COFA agreements expire this year.

Guiney: And where are they located?

Smith: They're Palau, the Marshall Islands, and what's the third one? I should know this. And The Federated States of Micronesia. And so Heritage have been pushing the Biden administration and Congress, which is currently in the process, the final stages of negotiating new COFA agreements with these three countries. We've really been pushing them to get this deal done, and that involves some economic assistance to these countries who actually suffered from U.S. nuclear testing in the 20th century out in the Pacific.

And so these new COFA agreements will likely provide some economic benefits for the islands and some recognition of the U.S. past behavior and hopefully some compensation for that behavior. It looks like the agreements are going to get done by the end of the year, but it's absolutely critical to maintaining America's privileged security position in the islands.

Guiney: Last question. Russia, definitely in the news right now, buddies with China, is part of our strategy to drive a wedge between those nations to affect that relationship somehow and how?

Smith: Yeah, very good question. Two countries that have historically been at odds with one another, but over the past 10 years, and certainly since 2014, have grown increasingly close. And really it was, in my opinion, it was Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014 that resulted in very significant and punishing sanctions from the West justifiably that forced Russia to say, you know what? Europe and the West we're done here I'm turning my attention east and I'm shifting to China.

And you saw a number of new diplomatic and military agreements and economic agreements, new pipelines, and essentially Russia increasingly tying itself to China in a variety of ways that have only strengthened with time and received another boost after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia's been further isolated by the west since the invasion of Ukraine, and that's only caused it to double down on its relationship with China even more.

Now, what can the U.S. do in this area? I unfortunately think our options are limited. To entice Russia back away from China, I think is a very unlikely prospect. We don't want to lessen the pressure on Russia anyway because it's the middle of, in an invasion of a sovereign democratic country. We could try to sort of drive a wedge between the two countries, but they both see it as in their interests to cooperate against us right now.

So I think our ability to do so is limited. What we can do is diminish the value of Russia to China. And so Russia, through its invasion of Ukraine has been weakened militarily, economically, diplomatically. We can ensure that Russia continues to pay a price for that invasion and is likely to emerge from that conflict whenever that is in a considerably weakened and more vulnerable state.

Now, that's actually a mixed bag for China because on one hand it doesn't like a loser and it doesn't want its most important partner to be weak, but on the other hand, it actually gives China better terms in the partnership, in the arrangement. So the weaker Russia is the more China can say, now, the next time we renegotiate our gas contracts, we want better deals. And Russia, we know your military is in dire straits right now. We could send you a lifeline and make some purchases, but they're going to have to be at extremely discounted rates.

And Russia was already the junior partner before all of this is making Russia even more of a junior partner and giving China even better terms in the relationship. But ultimately, I don't think China wants to see its best friend fighting against American imperialism. It doesn't want to see it become a basket case and a drain on China's own resources, right? Because Russia will increasingly rely on China for support and aid to keep itself afloat, and I don't think that's the ideal outcome for China either.

Guiney: Jeff Smith, thank you so much for being a part of Heritages Explains China. It's been an amazing couple of weeks going through all of this stuff. Any final thoughts for our listeners?

Smith: Good luck in God's speed. We've covered so many topics here and we've barely had the chance to do them justice, right? Each one of these topics we've glossed over could take up its own hour and a half episode. That's how complex and broad in scope the China challenge is. And I think it underscores how massive of a threat that China poses across so many domains and realms and why it is rightly sucking up so much of our attention in Washington, in the government, in the State Department, in the Pentagon, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future. It really does rise and elevate to that new Cold War type of threat.

It's on the level of the threat that the Soviet Union posed to the United States, and in some ways China is an even more capable and dangerous adversary, and this competition will play out on a global scale the way that the last Cold War did, and it's going to require our ongoing and persistent efforts to win.

Guiney: As we wrap up our series on the Chinese Communist Party, I want to go back to a voice we heard at the beginning of episode one. In that episode, our president, Dr. Kevin Roberts talked about where we stand with China, and I think it's helpful to remember a bit of what he said now.

Kevin Roberts: The state of the play regarding the threat from China as it's perceived here in the nation's capital is poor but improving. And so just to contrast where the state of play is today versus a year ago, it's better and it's better in part to your question because more political leaders on the left are recognizing the threat from China.

And I think one piece of evidence that we'll be looking for here at Heritage as a measure of success of the revitalized effort that we're leading against the CCP is if when Congress has hearings on some of this legislation, that they don't descend into the typical partisan battle and party line votes, but in fact there's a real bipartisan effort at the committee level. And then of course when the full vote comes from the full chamber at confronting the threat, and I'm cautiously optimistic that will happen.

And I will say to give President Biden slightly partial credit on this, about every third time he speaks about China or Taiwan, he's right. At Heritage, we have this beautiful privilege and burden of telling the truth even when it hurts. And I mean, I'm very happy just as an American citizen that the President, whoever he or she would be happens to be right some of the time. It's just that I think his advisors then get around him after he makes these good pronouncements. We've seen this recently with Taiwan, and they say, "don't say that again".

That speaks to what remains a real obstacle on the left, which is they're not quite there. And so one of the things we're trying to do at Heritage is not just give our natural political allies, the conservatives in Congress the intellectual ammunition they need to fight this battle politically, but also to be really good at messaging to continue to do what we've always done, which is be very willing to work with people on the left who want to be leaders on this issue.

Guiney: Living as we do in times that are politically fraught. It can be easy to forget that friendship and goodwill can go a long way, and that is what separates us from our adversary. Folks, thank you for listening to our first season of Heritage Explains as complex and difficult as the problem of the Chinese Communist Party is. We hope that this series has been helpful in understanding this complex issue.

We thank everyone who contributed to this show, especially Jeff Smith, Alexa Walker, Dr. Kevin Roberts, Michael Pilsbury, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Brian Burak and Jim Carafano. Also thanks to our production staff, especially John Pop, Phillip Reynolds, Tim Kennedy and Lauren Evans. And finally, thanks to you for being a listener of our show and a supporter of The Heritage Foundation.

We're working on a new season for you with a new topic, but in the meantime, keep an eye on this feed. Every Wednesday we'll be bringing you bonus content that we are really excited about, so stay tuned for that. As always, you can contact us with your thoughts at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you. See you later.

Heritage Explains is brought to you by more than half a million members of The Heritage Foundation. It's written and produced by Mark GuineyLauren Evans, and John Popp. Production assistance by Alexa Walker and Jeff Smith