Rebeccah Heinrichs’s lecture at the Christianity & National Security Conference 2022.

Rebeccah Heinrichs discusses the Chinese Communist Party, internal division, and the weaponization of social media. The following is a transcript of the lecture.

Got a little nervous when you said you weren’t sure if you’re allowed to say it and you said I was a Baptist. That is not… that is… that part is not a secret. Could have gone a lot of different directions, there. Um, well good afternoon, uh, it is a… it is a pleasure to be here with you all of course. Thank you, Mark for inviting me. I’m sorry that I was not able to come last year and maybe the year before that but, but I’m… I’m incredibly privileged to be here to speak with all of you. I think that, um, everything that you’re doing and committed to, I’m not sure what else is more important um, for our country right now so I’m thankful for you, uh, not just being here for… for… but, uh, for choosing the vocation of which, that you are currently um… that you’ve currently embraced and pursuing. 

So I didn’t have a whole lot of direction about what I wanted to talk about specifically, which is kind of a, um, uh, a dangerous thing for me but I… I thought, given the nature of the work that I’m doing right now, that I would just kind of talk to you about where I think the United States is in the geopolitical environment and then how we should think about how to navigate this, how to get through it, um because I think that understanding the nature of the threats and of where the United States is, um, in this particular time in history will be helpful for us as we think about how to prioritize what we’re doing, how to think about this, how to make the best arguments and help one another, um, in all of our various ways that we’re really tackling the same project. 

I have come to believe that we are in the beginning of a decade that is highly dangerous. Some have called this the decade of danger uh, for, for this generation of those of us who will be, uh, trying to navigate our… our country, um, it’s much more difficult and I would argue even more dangerous and more complicated than… than the Cold War. So the… the Biden National Security Strategy came out and said basically the end of… the post-Cold War is over. We’re sort of in this new phase. What is the phase? It is a very, very dangerous decade. We have two… two countries, not just one like the Soviet Union.  

We have two countries that are very determined to unseat the United States as the preeminent global power. Of course, the first one is the lesser one, and it’s the Russian Federation trying to pull at the threads in NATO, in Europe. Uh, it’s not just about Ukraine. I try to explain to people Ukraine, in order to… to actually undo the NATO alliance and have control over the future of Europe, it needs to prevail in Ukraine, and so Ukraine is the first piece of that overall mission for the Russian Federation and the… the bigger power in this… in this um, growing cooperation between these two countries, of course is the Chinese Communist Party led by Xi Jinping. Uh, the Chinese Communist Party should be understood as the primary threat facing the United States because of its power, because of its ability to actually carry out its agenda. It wants to unseat the United States. It is not… I…  

I don’t like the phrase rules-based international order, or the liberal international order. Um, that’s kind of how many folks in the national security establishment try to talk about what is the thing that we’re trying to predict, protect. I don’t… I don’t like that, although I know what they mean. The reason I don’t like it is because one, I don’t think it’s rhetorically useful. I don’t think a lot of Americans understand what that means. I don’t think it resonates with them. I don’t think they understand how that affects their family. I don’t think that they… they can… there it feels um, incon- incongruent with, with what the kind of threats that they’re facing at… at home. 

And when I say threats I mean, um, increasing prices, not being able to find a job, disappearing of the middle class, threats to free speech. All these things that… that… that the American family is facing they don’t… they don’t view… they don’t understand this rules-based international order thing and why Ukraine has anything to do with that. And so it’s an unhelpful way to kind of think about it. So what I say, though, is uh, what… how I explain it is this is the, especially to an American audience, doesn’t work so well with some of our allies. Some of them get it and are okay with it, though but, but I say this is the American-led… this is the American-led order and Americans have benefited more than anybody else in this order, but so have our like-minded in the broadest sense allies and partners in the free world. 

I’d argue even our adversaries have been benefited from it, from the stability and the understanding of… of costs and benefits to certain kinds of behavior. But the American people have our economy, our way of life, all of those things are secured whenever you have, uh, both the… the Asian theater and the European theater secured and borders defended. Sovereign nations understood who they are, democratic nations permitted to determine what is best for their own populations given their own understanding of justice, right and wrong, and their own people’s idiosyncratic things about their cultures, histories, and values. Okay that… that has worked pretty well.  

We have seen the American family flourish economically for a while in the… in the… in the post-Cold War. This is one of the things I said is we inherited… we as a country inherited a great responsibility to steward the… the U.S. leadership that we inherited, uh, from that Cold War generation. I’m afraid, however, that much of that preeminence has been squandered. So there was this idea then that, if the United States was able to prevail in the Cold War, which we did, that these ideas of… of free trade would incentivize other countries, close countries, especially the… the Chinese communists that they would be incentivized to just participate in global trade, and that they would liberalize domestically and then they would no longer pose that the kinds of bad ideas that were dangerous to their own people and to the rest of the world.  

This was a bipartisan idea that took hold. I want to be clear, this is not something that was just something on the… on the side of the… the political left. I mean, it was both. You saw this… this idea that this would happen, and then if you look at our military, what our military did as well, we acted as though we really believed that. We divested a lot of the kinds of Cold War military weapons systems that we needed in order to deter the Soviets, um, and… and prevail. The deterrence broke down and failed, uh we… we got rid of a lot of our industrial base capability to be able to produce weapons at scale that we might need in a hurry. We’re seeing this play out right before our eyes with Ukraine. 

Um I’m… I’m not upset that so much of the weapons that we designed for Soviet equipment is being used to take away and to destroy Soviet equipment. I’m glad for that. But a lot of this equipment that… that we have provided to the Ukrainians and frankly that the Eastern Central Europeans have provided the Ukrainians that was American-made needs to be backfilled and restocked, um, and… and we simply don’t have the industrial capacity before us to be able to do that quickly. And that’s not something that we can fix very quickly. 

And of course, you have seen other problems that all industries are being faced with right now with… with a problem, with not having a workforce necessary to be able to even put some of this back together at a… at a quickly enough um, pace on a close time frame. And so what has happened is the Chinese Communist Party was quiet about its ideological commitment to Marxist Leninism and it simply got rich. It got rich, um, and what did it do? Did it liberalize? Well, no. It didn’t. Instead it took its wealth, which it benefited from the U.S. led order… took its wealth, uh, from… from this system and invested it in specifically the kinds of military weapons that you would need to push the United States out of the Pacific.

If they could do that, if they could ensure if they could not just threaten but actually back up their threats with the ability to push the United States out of the Pacific, then what? Power, geopolitical power, derives from… you hear a lot of people say the strength of your ideas. Well, okay, I say it’s your military and it’s the size of the economy. And because I believe that the United States is a better person to steward that great duty and responsibility, it is ours to shepherd and steward that responsibility well by ensuring that we have the military and economy to continue to be that force for good for the American people and for the West, but the Chinese Communist Party understands that if they have this, and you can see they’ve done this economically, see how hard it is for businesses to even just simply stand their ground and say what they believe to be true. There is genocide going on in China. They can’t… they’re afraid to say it simply because the Chinese Communists will say “don’t say it or we’ll take away your contracts or you’re going to lose business.” 

The other thing that’s so… that’s so incredible to me about China, the American people are just beginning to understand this. I know we kind of took maybe a little bit of a premature victory lap during the Trump Administration because the Trump Administration finally got people to understand the threat from China, thanks mostly to Secretary Pompeo and how much he articulated that. But there’s so many things that we’re still not doing, we haven’t even grasped. One of which is very, very interesting. In… In China, all of… they’ve got social media influencers. They have cultural pop icons. All of them work for and support the Chinese Communist Party.  

So what happens when Nike and all these other Western companies put out a letter that says “we would really prefer you not commit genocide,” you know? “We would really prefer you not do that. It would make it easier for us from a… from a, just a sort of, you know, business perspective we can say that we’re not actually engaged in… in being enriched on the kinds of essentially slave labor that… that we have forsworn from… from years ago.” The Chinese Communist Party didn’t even have to say anything. They didn’t even have to put out a statement. They just turned on their influencers, and you had Chinese Communist Party influencers 25 year olds, 22 year olds, 28 year olds getting on their social media platforms and blasting out to all of the people who follow them, listen to them, stop buying these products and the stocks for all those companies just went through the floor overnight. So all of these companies understand the power… the… the power that the party has over its own people. There really is no more true real distinction between private enterprise, between the military sector and the civilian sector. It’s all bending towards… anything that was there even five years ago, six years ago is… is diminished. It’s all bending now towards Xi Jinping and what… what he has decided is best for the party.  

We saw this during the Covid pandemic. Everybody was so concerned, obviously, about the nature of the virus that was coming over and so there’s so much focus on that. I just watched in real time scientists in China try to explain what they knew about the virus, and those scientists were disappeared. We have barely come to grip, we have barely, barely grasped the nature of the… not only of the disappearing of information that’s coming out, but of the people who were trying to provide that information. We have not grappled with that at all as a country. 

So this is the nature of the Chinese Communist Party. We still as a country don’t like to call them a threat. What we do call them is a competitor. The Trump Administration’s so boldly and able to get us to understand that they are not a partner was… they, as far as they were able to go as a competitor, um. You have some that say an adversarial regime or a potential adversary… nobody’s anywhere near being able to call them. They are a Chinese… Chinese Communist regime that is about to pass the United States depending on which economist he talked to, could pass the United States economically, and depending on what happens to our own country in the next couple of years, but also has the ability if they… if this, the importance about Taiwan… 

I really will get to the Christian, uh, principles here. I’m getting there. But this is… but it’s important that we understand what we’re in right now before we can start to actually try to make sense of this. Otherwise, we’re just going to argue about Christian nationalism versus Christian realism versus classical liberalism versus libertarianism. And we’re all just going to do this while the Chinese Communist Party just comes over and prevails. So we have to understand kind of the… the context that we’re in. Um, was I saying about the Covid? Something else? 

Okay. So this is… this… this is… this is the… this is the nature of the threat and, and so we have to figure out then how, how we’re going to… oh! Taiwan! Taiwan. So… so when people say it… so it just went right back through my head. People will say “Rebeccah, why do we care so much about Taiwan? Holy cow, like, isn’t Taiwan just the Ukraine of Asia? It’s not really a problem. We’re really going to send our sons to die for the Donbas and Kherson to die for Taiwan?” And you hear that. You hear this.  

People have forgotten that it is us who have benefited. Number one. From the United States being the preeminent power. From us being the ones that can bend. Whenever I say that to us, being the preeminent power, it means the rules of commerce, it means the rules for what we expect out of companies to be fair and transparent, it means that they pay you on the royalties of which you were owed because the intellectual labor came from your mind that belongs to you. These are Western ideas. We have been able to set those and defend them, implying because of the military that we have… that’s what we talk about by maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s our military. It’s our navy. It’s the Air Force and the Space Force… but, but so it’s so, so much change. 

It takes some imagination to understand a Chinese Communist Party tilted world versus one tilted towards us. You think about how corrupt the WHO was during the pandemic. Think of that. For everything, for everything. Where did this virus come out of? What about this… this… this… this drug that’s now being imported in this? Kind of, food in food safety and security and trade…. All of the things that are regulated and bent towards American standards and Western standards for appropriate behavior to increase human flourishing in the security of human beings now bent towards what the Chinese Communist believes is good for the party. 

And you can get a flavor of what else that might be like by looking at how they treat their own people. I tell you, people you know, just look at how they treat their people. I’m not saying they’re going to try to make the planet like mainland China. What I am saying is you can tell what they think is right is wrong. And okay and acceptable behavior by how they’re treating their people. Now just expand that to everything else of which they can affect.  

Okay, okay. So… so what do we do? So here we are, um, you have a lot of people and you have people in international relations now talking. I know I’m already at 15 minutes here. I’ll wrap it up here. Next five minutes. But now Q&A and hear what you think. How do we navigate this? 

The first thing I tell people is there are two schools of thought, two primary schools of thought, frameworks in international relations. One is the realist framework. The realists believe that this is an anarchic world, that countries are distrustful of one another, that countries based on their own views of right and wrong are going to vie for power and they’re going to do what is necessary based on their own set of what they believe is right for their own people and that it is just… it is full of distrust, because people are sinful and people don’t… don’t… don’t… They don’t even do what’s right for their own interests, properly understood, half the time. So how in the world are you going to get everybody get… to get along? Um, in any other way other than try to do what’s best for your own country, understanding in this anarchic system. 

Okay. That’s realism. It’s not proactive. I’ll hear people say “Oh Rebeccah, I hear that you wanna um, cooperate with countries based on principles but I’m a realist. I know that you’re an idealist.” Like what? No. Realism doesn’t prescribe to you, doesn’t give you the answers about what to do. Realism gives you the framework for how you see the world, okay? So then, the next part is, and you’ll hear people say “well I’m a true realist,” meaning “I’m just all about real politique and I don’t really care about values.” So when you ask that, people will say: “Do we lead with values or do we just think about power and interest?” They say they’re a real realist because they don’t care about values and principles, to which I respond I don’t think that’s the best way to handle these problems. 

Realistically, I believe there is no such thing as value lists. We are all making decisions in our life based on certain things of which, we don’t even like the term “value” because it’s empty, it’s vague, it doesn’t mean anything. We all have values. The Chinese Communists have values. It’s power for the Chinese Communist Party. So Christian realism, to my mind, is the most helpful way to navigate one, how do we as Americans ought to understand ourselves and what just government is? 

Part of the reason is… is because regardless of this academic discussion about Christian nationalism or… or all these other arguments that people are having, which are mostly interesting and ultimately, I’ve come to conclude probably mostly unhelpful um, is that you countries will behave based on their own set of understanding of right and wrong.  

Our documents that actually govern how we train our military train… our train the people who are engaged in national security policy are based on the just war principles, the laws of armed conflict… Read the laws of armed conflict. The ideas of discrimination of proportionality, um, uh, the… all of these principles… they come from a tradition that is Christian. It’s very influenced by Christian thought. So you can say whether or not if we should or shouldn’t be the case, which some people might try to argue that, but the fact remains that our country is deeply influenced by Christian thought for our understanding of justice, to the point where that is how we even teach and educate our Armed Forces. 

So, here’s where I think that we… that we, where we should stand and where we are, the United States must, must understand that one, this is the… this is the challenge of our generation. This is the challenge. Definitely. I think the next 10 years is very, very challenging. We must not only be able to handle and to deter and defend on, with… on the hard power piece, on economically, we must, must care about the principles and the ideas we have… we still have with all of our problems domestically. The obvious moral superior… superiority over the Chinese Communist Party and the Russian Federation, the North Koreans and the Iranians who- they are cooperating with the Russians and the Chinese when their interests align… 

So I’m going to end on a little provocative note before I turn over the questions. The… the challenge, though, is… so I think all… everything I said, I believe is… is… is actually just… just true. These ideas are from a Christian realism perspective. The United States must fight for the power of which it inherited. Um, it is not a foregone conclusion. We should not despair. We should not be discouraged. We should have some optimism, but we must grapple with that. Those American principles and values are that we are holding out as we compete and deter and defend against the Chinese Communist Party and the Russians. 

Um, Anthony Blinken, our Secretary of State, kind of fumbled over this question when he was getting harangued by the Chinese in that meeting. And the Chinese said basically… was giving him a hard time for Black Lives Matter and racial disunity and problems in the United States, and… and Anthony said “Well I think it makes our country better that we’re able to have these conversations.” And say, that was a pretty good… I’d give him a C minus for that answer. I was about… it was a C, you know, I would have said this is the… uh, we are an anti… we are the anti-racist country. Our founding documents and principles hold out the belief that all human beings are created with dignity because of their inherent worth created by God.  

Where we have failed to do that, it’s not because our country is systemically racist. It is because we have not lived up to those founding principles as per Frederic Douglas’s argument. So that we… we need to… we need to understand that and move forward with… with this idea that this conflation, and I do believe it’s genuine on… on… on… on the Left end of the political spectrum, this conflation of progressive radical views as democracy, the I- I bring that up, and I know it’s controversial. I brought it up in other national security settings. It makes people uncomfortable but I have to say it… because it is part of our State Department’s views for how they are carrying out what a U.S.-led order is, it’s… it’s these… it’s these views. One, I tell them, it aggravates half the American people. We cannot have these deeply divided factions and prevail in great power competition. We will fail. So what we have to look at, what are the principles in… 

George Washington warned us about this. So what… what, so… so what are the things that we can come and understand? For the American people, I think it’s those things I laid out: it’s rule of law. Countries should be able to be self-determining, and that’s why democracy is better, because there’s flexibility in there for people to vote, make mistakes, change their mind and adapt, unlike states… authoritarian countries. And so we have… we have to get back to understanding that and we must go back through all of our foreign policy documents and all of those things that are additional this… that are additional and aggravate other… our allies and partners and aren’t even held to be American values in the United States. We have to get rid of them. We can’t afford…  

This is going to have to be the era of American allies. That is how we prevail in this. We must convince these other countries: that not only they’re hedging… I’ll just say that, too. We have the allies and partners who are hedging and trying to see… that’s part of the reason for why some of them won’t totally divest of some critical vital national security, uh, sectors in their own country from China. They’re hedging to see how the United States actually navigates the next couple of years. We have to be able to demonstrate to him, to them, that we are good allies and that we will let the French be French, the British be British, the Latvians and the Poles be the way they are, broadly understood as members of the free world. 

Um, and… and then my last point, I would just say one other big indicator that we’ll have, um, that we are being… that we are serious about… this is the… the kinds of tools that the Chinese are using in information warfare. The United States just simply gets rid of them and that’s TikTok. The TikTok social media app, when you get on Twitter please understand that you are stepping into an information war zone. That is what Twitter is. That is what social media apps are and it’s… they’re incredibly pernicious, especially for the younger generation, the youth. To be able to turn them and twist the way… the way they’re thinking… There is a new… new polling coming out that came out. I’m polling young people in college about, um, about speech and free speech and I’m not going to get it exactly right here so I’m going to speak generally because I don’t want to miss… misrepresent it.  

But one of the questions that was asked to these young people is: Do you think that there are certain… there’s certain things that people can say in other countries that are deserve… to say in other countries that are deserving of capital punishment? And it was like 40% said yes in an Amer… and so, so where are these ideas? This sort of, like, softening of what it means to be an American, of deeply held beliefs, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech… Understanding that we can disagree but that you’re not going to get canceled. I mean, I don’t even know how young people even can… can navigate a college classroom environment. I look back at the things I said when I was a freshman, right after 9/11. Holy smokes, I would be canceled 10 days from Sunday by… by now. I mean it was, it was, um, it was a… it was a time of which people were actually able to really try out their ideas on one another and do it not only not being offended, not to offend.  

Of course the principle, the Christian principle that you’re not seeking to offend, but the other one that I think we need now more than anything is that you work just as hard at not being offended, that giving grace to the person who is speaking to you because we’re going to have to really work together to come up with some, um, policies and principles moving forward so that we can prevail over the next decade. 

Thank you. That… I’ll love to hear your questions. I had some great quotes I didn’t even read. I’m just, I’m going to read one. I’ve got this gentleman coming up to the microphone here.  

Q&A 

Question: Okay. Hi. I’m Jonathan Dean. I’m from Asbury Theological Seminary. I’m curious. You said, uh, sort of in light of the threat of China right now in the current international order is going to be the era of American allies. And I am interested in it. I do think there’s sort of a moral question there, yeah. When you talk about, for instance, sort of historical allies for the U.S. like India and Saudi Arabia who are currently involved in thinks like in Yemen, there’s such a complicated situation of historical allies in Yemen that Saudi Arabia is directly involved in… In India, the religious turmoil under the Modhi’s government… How do we as Christians sort of navigate those moral obligations?  

Answer: Great questions. And this is, this is my, and I love… and I’ve got such strong opinions about the U.S.-Saudi partnership, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to share it with you now. Um, it’s funny. Well I will sometimes, um, write on this and I’m very defensive of the U.S.-Saudi partnership and I’ll explain why. But when I do that, I will sometimes get, you know, Saudis who will write me and thank me and I’m like, it’s not for you, um. No, um. Okay. Here’s this. So we… we must… what did George Washington say a foreign policy should be? Does anybody just know? I’ll give you a hundred life-points if you know the answer. If you can just remember the phrase. My kids always give my kids life-points. It works for them. I’m sorry, um, that doesn’t translate into anything. But who said interests? Yeah. Guided by it’s interests. Guided by justice, interests guided by justice. 

Um, and so it’s… it’s… it’s prudence, of course is the cardinal virtue. Here we’re trying to navigate this and… and all of you know this is a great quote here, so this… this is, um, this is about the subject of ranking priorities, understanding that we still care very much. This is not a skewing principles of justice and morality, um, but this… this quote is… this is James Turner Johnson argues that “The ranking of values is necessary in any ethic and that for the just war tradition thinkers, this reality must be asserted.” Johnson illustrates this well by contrasting the way humanist Erasmus and utilitarian John Stuart Mill grapple with the question of whether war can ever be moral. For Mill, quote “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest thing.” Uh, and… and I think that that underscores the point that Washington was talking about, which is that it’s interests guided by justice. 

So what I mean with the Saudis… so as a tool you can think about and trying to determine a country and… and the nature if they are… if they are a threat to the United States. Do they have the will and the capability to do great harm to the United States, and to what degree? The Saudis pretty much rank very low on both of those. On will to harm the United States and on capability to harm the United States. Now, people say “okay, Rebeccah. But it wasn’t the Biden Administration, right? To hit the salaries over the head because of the Khashoggi killing.” And I tell them, oh my goodness this is… the Khashoggi killing was terrible. It wasn’t even the worst thing they did that day, it’s not the worst thing they’re doing right now.  

The Christian Church is underground. There’s not a synagogue in sight. It is a capital offense to convert from Islam to either of those fates. It is a brutal regime based on a very tough, tough, specific view of Sunni Islam. Okay? And uh, so we have to… we have to… we just have to… we have to understand that that is the reality. They’re also a very pretty good partner in radical, uh, terrorism outside their borders for the United States, and they are a great, uh, they are… they are a… the enemy, the one of the primary enemies of Iran which does not have the capability and the intent of harming the United States and our allies and partners. It’s not the only thing the Saudis do. So they check Iran.  

They help us with counterterrorism, uh, information in intel. They actually work with us pretty well, um, on all of those things. Pretty good, uh, partners as I say. Allies, partners, loose, slamming small “a” allies, allies, partners, um… And there’s also, and this is no… people don’t, like, talk about this. It makes them feel icky but it’s true too. There’s a couple of ports around Yemen that are incredibly, incredibly crucial for just glo- the global commodity of oil going through those ports. The Iranians want to take over Yemen through their proxies the Houthis in order to have that lever pull over the West. It is in our interests to have the Saudis and the Emiratis be the ones on our side to make sure that the Iranians don’t have that power over the region to carry out their terrorism throughout… throughout the Middle East and beyond. 

Um, so… so that’s where I would rank the Saudis. So I would say that, and furthermore, the Saudis will 100% defend their own people and their own airports and all their civilian infrastructure that is under attack from Iranian proxies. If we’re not the ones that are going to help them do that, they will turn to the Chinese and the Russians, which is what they’re doing so… so to my mind, um, and you know, you take a clear-eyed view of what can be done, I think that the Saudis can make domestic improvements and in some regards they have even under MBS for women, etc. Pales into comparison. I understand, I don’t want to overstate the good things that have happened, but… but as the United States is involved in the Saudi partnership, I think we have a much greater ability to privately speak into things that we would like to see domestically with the Saudis.  

So that’s how I would think about the Saudi relationship with the United States. You always want to see gradual change, but you’re realistic. The United States is going to be much less helpful for pushing for increased justice in these countries if we are under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party. All of these conversations will be academic at that point, so we… we must make sure that we maintain our preeminence and pull away from this, um, degrading, uh, ability to… to… to actually move in the world on our own terms, which is really what we want. I don’t have all the answer for all of our policy. I do know that I want the United States, the best of our ability, to move in the world on terms most conducive to the safety and security of my children, of the American people, in securing the American way of life. And then, everything else kind of fits into that paradigm. 

But you have another question? 

Question: Hi. I’m Esther Peters from Asbury Theological Seminary, as well. I have a question on the power of the Chinese influencers, because as I understand general… the general populace in China don’t have access to social media or at least it’s very, very regulated, very, very, limited and so who, what… what is the audience of those influencers? And if they are Western, does that audience just not realize that hey, they’re advocating genocide and other things?  

Answer: So the… the… actually, China… China is… is operating under the… the largest, most sophisticated techno-authoritarian country. Everybody’s hooked up to tech, it’s just that they’re not getting all of the right and clear and accurate information. It’s heavily, heavily, heavily censored and beds towards the interests of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s how they’re able to carry through their, um, what’s it called? Their, uh, their social media… their scoring… their social credit score. 

So I mean, so this is a real thing, you know if you… if you… if you, you know in China, I mean a lot of this is you… as I was trying to do research before, I did this media hit where I was trying to even get my hands around, to understand this well. And it was very hard to actually understand specifically what’s going on in China. But one of the… one of the metrics that we understand is that you can criticize, let’s say you criticize the Chinese Communist Party or your mom does and you defend her or whatever. If it is over email in some way, you can have your social credit score be penalized so that the next time you call an Uber it just doesn’t come. 

So you have actual… you have actual, real-time, no kidding consequences in the way you move and live in China based on the things that you say and do that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t want you to do. Um, the Chinese American… Chinese people who live in the United States, who are… who are free to be here, they’re… they’re… they’re… they, they, they have visas to be here, they… they all have to check in with the Chinese consulates while they’re here. Um, I… I’ll try to keep it so it’s not a non- non personal experience, but I can tell you that when… when… after you talk with, um, it’s terrible. The United States of America needs to do because of our fear, because of university’s fear of losing the Chinese Communist Party and money… they’re not doing what they should do to protect the students that are there legally to be able to study and learn, and that includes… So I say this because all of those students there still have to check in. They’re still being monitored. Everything they say and do in the United States, all of it. 

 Those… those, uh, influencers in China, they’re not Western. They’re Chinese. They’re Chinese but they are very, very popular and they… they are able to send out signals and by… by denouncing and canceling cancel culture, like on steroids, there, um to… to immediately crash uh, the… the uh, profits of Western companies, I mean you can look at… let me give you just a couple of other… did you have a follow-up? I was gonna… I couldn’t do nothing… 

Response: uh, no I don’t think so.  

Answer: Okay. If you do, please, please jump right in my… um, there’s some other things that you can see how the Chinese do this. It’s so powerful the… the Australians right during the Covid pandemic, the Australians actually came out. They were then the most forward-leaning on demanding for information on Covid origins. It was the Australians. Um, they said we think that it would be necessary to understand where this thing came from, and um, I don’t know I mean, even if it was an accident, which we have… we, we don’t have any evidence that it wasn’t an accident… all of the behaviors of the Chinese Communist Party looks like they were maximizing the export of this virus outside their border and… and so we’d like to know more about this and… and the Australians are still living under sanctions from China for having done that.  

There are fourteen principles that the Chinese Communist Party has… has said that… that are necessary for the Australians to meet before they’ll lift those economic punishments. There’s like… so you’ll sometimes hear some people… they’re not really… I don’t even… the, the political parties are also mixed up right now. I don’t even know if these people are on the right or the left, but whoever they are, you know… I hear some people say, like, you know, a Chinese Communist Party-led world would actually be gentler than a U.S.-led world, because they don’t wield economic punishment and sanctions and they don’t do all these things. This is what they do all the time. They on individual people or speech codes, and um, for… for companies and businesses based on what they say, um and… and… and do. So, um they just don’t have the same flair that the United States does whenever they’re announcing sanctions, because they’re not a transparent country. It’s a very opaque, um, country. It’s part of the… the strategic culture of the Chinese Communist Party. Thank you. 

Question: So my name is, um, Daniel. I go to Canton University. I’m an international student from Burma, actually, so… and my question is, is that growing up in my country, I’ve seen… I don’t think the biggest threat has been social media. The biggest threat to our… my country is like, economic prosperity has been. Chinese takeovers of business. Oh yeah. And especially this point of families, where we see Chinese men come into the countries and take preference wires, and use that to buy up businesses and companies so that they can increase their influence in that area. So my question is, how do we… how do we call… like what is the solution? Like, what… what can we do if, rather than, like, trying to voice out the opinions, the opinions themselves are being forced up by someone, you know, right beside you or someone that you’re close to? 

Answer: Wonderful question so I didn’t… I didn’t… I’m glad that you give me an opportunity to… to clarify. I don’t mean that’s the biggest threat. I was just using it as an illustration for how… how quietly and pervasive their efforts are across their whole government to be able to influence and base and soften what the American ethos is, and how we’re able to… It used to be… to be this sort of American, you don’t tell me what to say, you cannot tell me what to say, I will wear my Tiananmen shirt, and I’m not going to take off my Tiananmen shirt, you know? That… that sort of, like… Now the Chinese have been able to say, apologize for saying that, NBA player and they’re happy to do it. I mean to me, I watch that and I don’t even know what you would have to do to get me to say that. I mean, Lord willing, I pray that under those circumstances I would never bend.  

So that’s all I meant by that. Your question is, and your illustration is very, very good. So again, the Chinese have been working across all of these different means to be able to do this, so you’re talking about there’s the… the Chinese will go into these… into these other countries, and I mean it’s… I mean again, you talk about this, you’ll hear people say well the United States has been a colonialist power and so maybe it’s time for somebody else to take over, and you look and see what the Chinese Communist Party is doing to the United States of America. And this kind of gets back to one of my points that I made, it’s related to this so the… the Marxist Leninist ideology, that’s that root of Chinese communism.  

It’s anti-family, I mean this is part of it. It’s anti-family. It’s about dividing and breaking up the family, because why? The family is one of the greatest bulwarks against statism. It gives us a sense of who we love and what we’re willing to die… die for and speak up and defend for war, so it… defend and so that… that… it is a… that because I don’t have that appreciation for the family, they’re actually anti-family, and so some of the things that they’re willing to do, um, for the sake of the Chinese Communist Party, is pretty evil. I mean, when you look at the kinds of things that you’re talking about, the United States has to be aware of it. And there’s… there’s things that we should do and should not do in order to combat that. And that’s why I get back to the point about this progressive ideology in our own State Department being conflated with democracy. It is not if we… if we are pushing for things that are anti-family in some sense, or are aggravating countries and cultures that do have a pretty strong sense of the natural family, we should not be aggravating, aggravating them and pushing them in a direction that actually, whether intentionally or not, actually feeds into exactly the kind of agenda that the Chinese Communist Party is pushing for. So I don’t have a simple answer for you except to say that I recognize how terrible that is, that the United States needs to be aware of that, it needs to be able to go… go… we need to be able to offer something different to these other countries so they understand that we are the better bet, we’re better for them. It’s more just for them and the kind of things the Chinese Communist Party offers with money and economic development comes at a pro… price that is too high and not worth it. 

Question: Uh, Joseph Lucani with the Grove City College and IRD. Rebeccah, thank you for your fabulous talk, really fabulous and stimulating. Let me give you a softball question. Russia and Ukraine, um, what do you think would be the best possible outcome and what would be achievable… the best possible outcome and do you think we have the political leadership in America and in the West to help bring it about? 

Answer: Uh, wonderful questions. Um, uh… One, I want to stress the importance of electing men and women of character who are able to one, recognize the… that America is good and worth defending, that our values are good, principles are good and worth defending and… and has the ability to think and navigate an extremely complex threat environment and make decisions that require a lot of seely resolve. Um, so I am… I am concerned. I am concerned about the United States in… in trying to get us through on us… to a soft landing through the Russia Ukraine war, uh, I believe all… all… everything that the United States and the West can do at this point with Ukraine and Russia is fraught. All of it.  

There is no… if anybody tells you what we should do and they give you a very easy “we should do this and it’s easy,” or we should do that it’s easy, um, I think none of it’s easy. Uh, I do believe, however that… that we have been overly risk averse in Ukraine in providing Ukraine the necessary equipment and operations and the ability to operate as it needs to push Russia out to the point where Russia has essentially then ceded. That, you know if, if you… if you see, uh, escalation control, the adversary will take it. And so where the Obama… where the Biden Administration has said we’re not going to provide this certain equipment, we’re not going to do that, then the Russians have just escalated and have continued to, uh, to do incredibly, um, inhumane and terrible things to try to prevail over the Ukrainians. 

So, um, I do believe that the United States should back up what it says, which is to help Ukraine, um push the Russians, uh out… out of… out of Ukraine so that there is something left of a sovereign Ukrainian country with the Ukrainian identity, and… and that means providing Ukraine with all of the military equipment that it needs. If the United States were actually fighting this with NATO, what the United States has basically been doing is saying we’ve sort of allowed that, we’ve provided Ukraine with the kinds of weapons and operations as though it’s like two Russian countries fighting each other. We’ve kind of kept it symmetrical for fear of the Ukrainians prevailing so much that the Russians then escalate for the point of a nuclear employment in the theater, um, and… and because of that fear, the United States, the Russians have successfully deterred the United States from doing entirely reasonable things on the conventional level. 

Not without risk. None of it’s without risk. This is why you deter small regional wars, because small regional wars turn into larger regional wars, and that’s whenever you get to the nuclear precipice, uh, so realistically, my hope… the thing that I pushed, that I try to push for and hope for is that. A realistic outcome is that the Russians, uh, Putin and… and his men are convinced that they cannot ultimately prevail on terms they believe will be worth it, and they have to be convinced of that before they escalate to… to what I fear they could potentially do over the next several months. And, and so the United States of America, with our allies, need to be able to convince the… the Russians, um, that of… of what the United States can do to make them regret that before they do it.  

We cannot leave this. I hear people say, well can’t the Europeans handle it? What is “the Europeans?” I mean, Poland is not. France is not. Germany is not. Latvia… It’s not Estonia, and I’ve talked to all those countries and they all have different visions of what they would do and how they would handle it. It requires a steady hand at the helm, and it requires U.S. leadership, um, and so that… that is what I hope for, but… but I… I do want to convey just the importance… the importance of… I’ve seen this now play out, the… how dire it is. For our country to elect men and women of character who are able to handle these… these particular threats, and in this stressful environment in the years to come. Um, so thank you for your very easy question. 

Question: Joe Ryan Burton, uh, Regent University. Um, so you’ve alluded to the idea that we need a coherent ideology as the United States, and my question is, uh, how can we as Christians kind of help consensus build and be the peacemakers at least on the domestic side of, uh, creating a consensus of an ideology that everyone, or at least the majority as a democrat- democratically elected society can get behind? 

Answer: A great question to land… to end this conversation on, um, and Mark will answer the question now… Um, you know I… we’re… I mean, this is… you’re doing it. This is it. You’re doing it. This… this is what Mark is doing. I mean this is what… I try to encourage people because I… I leave you so everyone’s like okay, wow, the threats are even worse than I thought they were and this is awful and I need to change my vocation. 

Now, at this point, um, no. I mean this… this is… this is it. So, you… you… you, uh, all of us are living in little mini-republics. I mean, that’s the idea. That’s the idea is that we are supposed to be doing that and so you should be… I’m not going to use the word “winsome” now that that word has been totally poisoned now with the fight of like, oh winsome has been used as just nice but ceding actual principle. No, but we… we should speak and act in a way that is encouraging and optimistic. When clear-eyed about the dangers facing our country, remind the people you’re talking to… I…  

I believe I firmly believe that there are some people in this country that haven’t… have truly, truly an anti-American vision of what this country should be doing. That includes people who believe that the… that the American founding was flawed. Can people say that? They say that the Declaration, that Locke is the problem. Are you kidding me? Locke is not the problem. Locke was… helped to solve an answer to a question that was killing Christians, which was how do you handle differing religious beliefs? And, and, and Locke helped us think through this. I say us like I was there, but I mean this is… this is… this is… okay. So, so I would remind people, I would remind people we’re not going to solve the questions that…  

The greatest statesmen this world has ever seen were able to come together and that was very hard. I mean, it’s like we’re trying to relitigate the American Revolution and the Civil War all at the same time. I mean, we’re not going to be able to do it but, but I really do believe that some… I hear some people’s ideas, and you can trace them through, like holy smokes, that’s really bad but… but… but that doesn’t mean that that person is my enemy. The American government exists today. I have serious problems with… with some of the direction that… that it wants to take us and I… and I fully understand how bad we are on… on culture issues and… and the idea of the natural family, and um, radical gender, um, ideology. All of that is part of this discussion. I understand how bad it is, but I want to communicate to every person I talk to who is an American here you are not my enemy. You’re not my enemy, and so we still have an opportunity to figure this out, because we have a system of government that has allowed for it.  

We had people who built into this… I understand that we might be over a barrel in some ways in terms of actually having a functioning ability to… to dissent and disagree, but we should push on that. So, be courageous. Um, I was just saying before this event… I was talking to Joe. This is… never in my lifetime before over the last couple years where I have been in professional meetings and thought something and actually have been afraid to say it because of the professional ramifications if I say something. I have never felt that until the last couple of years. So that is real. So I would encourage you all to be praying for your own wisdom, um, and for this country, and to be able to speak truth, um, when you can and… and… and when you kind of push forward, understand that the people who you’re talking to… that you cannot view them as your enemy. You cannot view them as your enemy. Um, that that… we’ve got lots of problems, but in order to solve the problems we have domestically, or at least mitigate them and prove them, make it… make some… challenge it, make some changes, we must hold the line abroad.  

We have external threats that are looking to exploit the factions in our country and so, to the extent that you have a say in any particular conversation or organization that you’re involved in, be the person who’s reminding everyone that we are not the enemies of one another. And so we have to solve these… these problems, um, with grace. But I’ll just say something, end on the point that I made earlier not just on… not intentionally offending the person… you don’t want to intentionally offend the other person, so you want to be gracious in speech and you also want to ensure that you are not the person who is so easily offended. Um, and… and that is, uh, I think an attribute that our country is just… we are so under-exercising that muscle and so, we can be the people who are exercising it, um, as we have these conversations with our… with our colleagues and our friends and family, foreign allies.