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November twenty seventeen, and I'm accompanying the now former President Barack Obama to Shanghai, China, former President Barack Obama will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a reporter with.

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He's giving speeches, meeting privately with leaders. I have very little to do. It's a lot less stressful than when we were actually in government.

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Then one night at 10 p.m., the phone wakes me up in my hotel room. It's the front desk. Someone from the Chinese foreign ministry wants to talk to me now. I quickly tidy up in a few minutes later, two Chinese officials are sitting awkwardly in my room. Only one of them speaks a senior diplomat. For a few minutes, he makes a diplomatic small talk. I'd grown accustomed to praising the past cooperation between President Obama and President Xi Jinping.

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And just as I'm wondering why he's here, he gets to the point. Is President Obama traveling to Delhi next? Yes, yes, I say. He says it's his understanding that President Obama is considering meeting in Delhi with the leader of the Tibetan opposition in exile. That's how China's government refers to the Dalai Lama. To them, he's a kind of Tibetan terrorist. The official very carefully explains that Obama should not meet with the Dalai Lama. He says if he does, the Chinese people will be greatly offended, including Xi Jinping the whole time this diplomats talking, the other guy just sits and watches.

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Silently, from my years in government, I'm used to getting this kind of message. I patiently say that we appreciate the request, but President Obama will meet with whomever he wants. And with that, the meeting is over. Here's why I'm telling you this story, we had not announced the meeting with the Dalai Lama, I'd only just been put in contact with his staff myself. What my visitors were doing in no uncertain terms was letting me know the Chinese government was monitoring my conversations.

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I'm Ben Rhodes and this is missing America, a look at the political afflictions spreading unchecked around the world and the absence of American leadership.

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Today, the Chinese model of authoritarianism in which citizens give up their rights and submit to constant surveillance in exchange for a promise of safety and prosperity.

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We'll learn about just how totalitarian the Chinese system is becoming, how it may be spreading, and how we could be headed for world order, where it's all just business as usual.

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They want to change the standard.

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They want to change the rules and to lower the bar on what constitutes humane, decent and stabilizing behavior in the international system. Then we'll learn why and how millions of people in Hong Kong have fought back.

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I don't know whether I will win or lose, but at least right before I die, I have to try and struggle and fight against it and how the United States should be inspired by them and help people like them, not by starting a new Cold War, but by living up to our own standards, the democratic example that America needs to be or else on this episode of Missing American.

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So you're probably not surprised to hear that China is not the most free and open society in the world. In fact, my generation's first memory of Chinese politics was 1989, when the communist government crushed pro-democracy protest in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

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Good evening. We all knew it couldn't go on forever, but no one thought it would come to this. A brutal massacre of Chinese students and other protesters by the Chinese army from Tiananmen Square.

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The sound of gunfire sounded like a battle, but it was one sided.

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The Chinese Red Cross says at least 2600 people were killed. The students claim thousands of others were wounded there.

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But that was 30 years ago, right, from the Chinese. Since then, China has gone through an historic economic expansion. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, the country opened up to Western businesses, culture and tourists, and there hasn't been another violent military crackdown on the scale of Tiananmen.

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From the outside, China seems at least a little freer. Sad to say it isn't we just can't see the shackles as easily. Jeff Prescott was a member of the National Security Council under Obama. He lived in China for years.

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He says that when Jinping took power, an already restrictive country got worse. JI's government was determined to crush dissent, but with an evolution of tactics from the brute, in-your-face force of the Tiananmen era to less visible weapons like technology.

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You know, China has had closed circuit televisions for a long time. If you became a political dissident, China, someone would come to your street corner and put up a bunch of cameras so they can monitor your house in real time. What's new is that they've combined that with all of the computing power that the modern information apparatus provides.

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So you probably know China is on the cutting edge of tech innovation, surpassing the US, an artificial intelligence, high speed 5G wireless networks and more. Well, the government invested in that tech not just to sell it, but also to use it to spy on its own citizens with an efficiency and a scope that's never been seen before.

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So you can have all of your personal data online. The government can monitor that in real time. And when you add new technologies like facial recognition, like real time artificial intelligence based tracking of different data sets, they can essentially track a person in real time across the city, across the country.

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They can also track your movements across the Internet, like, for instance, if you download a Muslim sermon and you happen to be a wigger. Wiggers are a predominantly Muslim ethnic group in western China, more than one million have been put in Chinese concentration camps. The government says it's to fight extremism, but most of these workers have never been charged with a crime.

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What we're seeing now with these vast reeducation camps and concentration camps in Xinjiang is people being identified for suspicious behavior like their online activity, like the use of their phone, the kind of apps that they're using, the the Internet searches that they're doing, feeding into this kind of surveillance database so they can then be picked up off the street and sent away for some kind of reeducation or punishment.

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And if that isn't Orwellian enough for you, the Chinese government is scaling up its surveillance capabilities across the country for a project it calls a social credit system, which is not really fully operational at this point.

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But you just imagine your kind of credit report. You know, every transaction that you've made, your banking history, you know, banks use that in our country to figure out whether they should give you a loan, whether you're a safe bet financially. China's trying to use that to kind of evaluate a citizen by, you know, how patriotic they are, how much they follow the rules, whether the emails and Internet posts that they make are sufficiently laudatory of the Communist Party.

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There's a sort of pretty chilling way in which these technologies could be used to track people and score them over time. If you were in a high social credit score, maybe the government makes sure you get a decent job or your kid gets in a decent school, get a low score, and maybe those opportunities dry up. Worse, you're going to knock on the door, there's an episode of the TV show Black Mirror about a society that does something similar that's reserved for members of our prime flight program.

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You got to be a 4.0 or over to qualify. Oh, I'm I'm a firefighter. I'm afraid you're actually a fool, but one eight three. Well, you might say that's just China for you, right? It's been a closed society for decades. That's their choice. Why should the rest of the world worry? Here's why increasingly, China is expanding its influence beyond its borders, including to a continent many Westerners don't pay much attention to, but really, really should.

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So my name is Sanju Delhi from Ghana, and I am an entrepreneur and early stage tech investor and an author.

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I met up with Sanju Delhi last year in Johannesburg. He was about to publish a book of interviews conducted with people he'd met after visiting tech startups in every corner of Africa.

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You're seeing incredible innovation come out of all the different parts. I was in Rwanda the last time, and you're seeing incredible innovation come out of some of the tech entrepreneurs that are building tech tools that are adapted to their local problems. Right. And so I'm very optimistic about that side of things.

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Delhi is not the only one bullish in Africa. True.

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Some African countries struggle with corrupt leaders, human rights abuses and terrorism. But the continent is also home to some of the fastest growing economies on the planet. And the reason is Africa's young people, look, in 2050, we're going to be one in four people will be African.

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And more importantly, 70 percent of the world's youth will be in Africa. The rest of the world will be Asian. And and so to me, I see that as a real assets and a real opportunity.

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If we do the right things and we have the right conducive environment to leverage that creating that environment will take investment in roads, infrastructure, wireless networks, bandwidth, education, investments many African nations can afford right now. But there's one country that's been more than willing to help out. Spoiler alert. It's not the United States.

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When the newly inaugurated President Trump unveiled his America first approach, it wasn't long before his budget team proposed deep cuts to foreign aid that would hit Africa the hardest.

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President's stated goal in his inaugural address of America first may instead mean America alone, and particularly in the context of Africa, may well mean America left behind.

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In fact, under Trump's isolationist anti-immigrant vision, the United States has gone out of its way to alienate Africans and young Africans who used to dream of studying and working in America using vulgar language.

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President Trump today questioned why the United States would allow people from Haiti and Africa into the country.

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He apparently said this is a quote.

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Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? This all puzzles some good deli's around it, especially given what it's led to.

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So to me, I think it's a huge missed opportunity that the U.S. is not focused on more sustained engagement with Africa. And what's interesting is with that absence, guess who's filling that void?

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China, right. Look, I've now spent time in forty seven African countries, the forty seven country I was in recently was Saotome and Principe.

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I mean, the Island of Principe has only 8000 people and the Chinese are already there by already there daily means they're aggressively investing, providing development, loans, technology and sending in thousands of Chinese workers to build infrastructure across Africa. And all signs literally point to how huge an impact that this is already having, though I best explain it to a friend, the other time was I said I was driving on a street in Accra and I saw a sign in Chinese and then I knew they've arrived.

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When you start seeing signs in Chinese, you know, they've arrived.

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All this investment isn't just China's way to get first crack at Africa's resources. It's not even limited to Africa. It's all part of an ambitious global plan that is also going to increase China's political leverage around the world.

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It's called the Belt Road Initiative. Jake Sullivan was Vice President Joe Biden's national security adviser.

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Very simply, what the Belt Road Initiative is, is an effort to build forms of infrastructure, ports, railroads, roads, airports, that's on the physical side and then on the digital side, basically building the Internet backbone and the 5G backbone across all of Asia, all of Europe, all of Africa and eventually around the world, all built to tie countries to Chinese influence in a variety of different ways. And then beyond that, they're trying to structure economic relationships with all of the major economies of the world outside of the United States, where those countries become increasingly dependent on China.

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And the multibillion dollar question is, once that happens, once China has all that leverage, what are they going to do with it? For his part, Jake doesn't think the goal is to create little China's all over the world the way the Soviet Union tried to export its brand of communism. In fact, he thinks about road initiative is intended to shore up China's power at home.

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It is defensive in nature, in my view.

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It is not evangelizing, but it's so they can neutralize the capacity of any of those countries to put any pressure on China.

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Jake says once nations are financially beholden to China, they'll be more likely to look the other way when China, say, puts a million people in concentration camps. But in the process, I think it's also inevitable that other governments will become more like China's. Why, first of all, because of the technology that China is exporting along the Belt Road, the same tech they used to spy on their people at home, China is exerting influence as an enabler.

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Samantha Power has the same fear. She was America's ambassador to the UN under Obama.

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And here I think that there is just a core effect, irrespective of what China's intentions are, whether it wants to make the world safer, authoritarianism or autocracy or not, the fact that it is introducing into the free market globally surveillance technologies, machine learning, EHI tactics. I mean, these are now services and goods that are available with no strings attached to any government that seeks to do a deal with China. The Chinese government is extremely explicit about not being at all curious about how these tools are being used.

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And indeed, that is going to give those leaders who want to control dissent, who want to wipe out opposition. It is going to give them resources that they have not had at their disposal.

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There are plenty of those kind of leaders in places like Africa or Asia or Latin America or as we heard last week, Europe leaders happy to turn their nations into Chinese style surveillance states.

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And maybe even more chilling, China isn't just winning over governments, it's also winning the hearts and minds of people.

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China is an example to voters, to governments of all regime types, that you can actually pull hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, you can fuel economic growth at the same time you violate civil and political rights. That is a powerful rebuttal to an argument that has undergirded U.S. diplomacy and U.S. rhetoric for a very long time, which is that democracy and economic prosperity go hand in hand, and that is exerting the powerful appeal for citizens who may be disillusioned with the returns that democracy has offered them in their lives.

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Don't believe people would willingly choose a promise of stability and economic security over democracy and human rights while people around the world are willing to consider it.

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I think what you're finding increasingly in Africa is that citizens are demanding performance.

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Fred Swaniker is another entrepreneur from Ghana and he works with young people all across Africa, the continent's future leaders.

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One can argue with China and say, well, China is not democratic. But again, when you look at the results and, you know, hundreds of millions of people brought out poverty in a very short period of time, one must say, well, OK, how can we learn from the way that has happened? And, you know, when you look at many of the countries that we look at today as role models of development like Singapore and so forth, they didn't necessarily have democratic governments.

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But that effective governance technology entrepreneur and activist Paul understands that mindset, too. He runs an NGO called Bais Impact that uses tech to solve social problems. He also happens to be the French born son of Chinese immigrants.

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We talk a lot about China's use of AI for for civilians or even we talk about the social credit system in China that is very in many ways, Black Mirror feels a dystopian.

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Yeah, right. But, you know, it's funny, I talk to a lot of people in China. If I talk to my family, too, and I talk to people who have been Western educated, I've talked to people who've who know Butterman and some of them will actually defend the social system, which which is mind boggling. Right. Because from our Western armchairs, it's easy to think that this is impossible. But one thing they will tell you is we know it's a tradeoff in terms of civil liberties, but we also know what we're getting from it's.

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Dwan says you get a sense of actual physical safety because when the authorities monitor everyone's every move, it's way easier to stop crime. Because of that, we see the immediate advantage of having surveillance systems that help you find the whoever stole your bike within hours, or you also have people who they've lived through through famine, they live through hunger. They live through cases where people died because they didn't have the right resources. They will look at you with a straight face and like, well, how can you tell me about human rights when human life is not even viable?

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And so I'm fully willing to live in a society where I will relinquish some of my what you consider to be the most important rights.

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Samantha Power says there's an important way for democracies to combat that way of thinking.

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We are going to have to make a more powerful argument for our model. And part of that argument is going to have to be that the system and the respect for human rights deliver for our citizens.

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But at this very moment, let's face it, the United States under Trump is not making the most convincing argument that democracy is effectively empty.

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Body bags dumped outside the Trump Hotel this evening, a morbid protest of the president's response to the coronavirus.

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A new CNN poll shows the majority of Americans now think the federal government has done a poor job in preventing coronavirus spread.

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The coronavirus pandemic exposed all the weaknesses of the American system all at once, a country wealthier than any on the planet that struggled for months to produce enough testing kits to even tell who's sick, a country with an ineffectual federal government that left states to fend for themselves. A country of massive inequality with the poor and browner you are, the more likely you are to die of covid-19 a country with more deaths from that disease than anywhere else on Earth.

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The CDC is now projecting the US could see up to 200000 total deaths in a matter of weeks.

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We're still averaging more than 1000 lives lost every day to this virus.

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As for China, its authoritarian system made it easy to lock down huge parts of the country and quickly scale up testing and tracking. China has reported fewer deaths in many Western democracies, despite a population that dwarfs all of them. And China has gone out of its way to publicize its cooperation with the World Health Organization and donations of masks and ventilators to other countries.

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If you're watching all this from Africa with Chinese money building your country a high speed rail system and the American president literally calling your country a shithole.

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Which system might you choose? So what happens in a world where citizens want Chinese style prosperity and leaders want Chinese style control, you get a world order that looks more like the Chinese Communist Party, especially when the American president tells the rest of the world that he could care less about them, that he's all about America first. Samantha Power says it is Trump has pulled away way, China has capitalized. China is taking advantage of the vacuum left by the U.S. retreat from leadership at organizations like the U.N. And slowly, they are inserting into various U.N. resolutions, words that look warm and fuzzy as motherhood and apple pie.

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But all of that language is meant to chip away at the international human rights regime that has been built over the last three quarters of a century since World War Two. Power says it's been understood that whatever country's laws may be, everyone has inherent rights that cannot be violated under penalty of international law. But the language that Chinese diplomats insert is code for individuals have whatever rights or privileges the state decides that they have. I think that is the long game for China.

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They want to change the standard. They want to change the rules and to lower the bar on what constitutes humane, decent and stabilizing behavior in the international system.

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And even if China is doing this mainly so its own government can do whatever it wants at home, it'll end up endangering everyone's rights. Everyone. But they say the coronaviruses an equalizer and in at least one way, maybe it is because as much as it exposed the failings of America's model, it also drew back the curtain on China's.

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One of the first Chinese doctors who tried to warn the world about a new coronavirus died on Friday from the illness when one doctor, Lee Wen Liang, sounded the alarm about the outbreak online.

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The government was still trying to keep it a secret, so their first move was typical. They sent the cops to his home, forced him to publicly recant and deleted his posts. Boonie died of covid. He became a martyr. News of his death drew one point five billion views on Chinese social media. The hashtag We Want Freedom of speech also started trending. The government deleted those posts, too, but not before governments and citizens around the world saw them and started to think maybe China's model isn't such a good bet after all.

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Maybe we don't want to live under the thumb of those guys any more than we want to live at the whim of Trump's tweets.

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So many countries are hedging right now and not wanting to alienate China, a country of such potency and leverage, but also fundamentally recognizing that nothing that China has said speaks to the aspirations of young people in their countries. And it is really important right now to bear in mind the opening that exists for the United States around the world.

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I mean, we have now in the last two years, experienced more political protests in more places than at any point in modern recorded history.

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I mean, people are taking the fates of their countries, of their families, of future generations into their hands.

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People like these faces say the protesters of Hong Kong.

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It's the one city in the world where people literally have the choice to opt into the Chinese model and they're rejecting it. America should see their movement as both a warning and opportunity to learn from them and to be reminded of why certain values are worth standing up for at home and around the world. The history of the Hong Kong protests and the future of America's resistance to authoritarianism went missing, America continues.

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That's sun basket, dot com slash missing and enter promo code missing at checkout four. Thirty five dollars off your order. Some basket dotcom slash missing and enter promo code missing. For years, Chinese leaders have justified their authoritarian system by saying it's just better for China, that there's something about being Chinese that suggests a preference for centralized control. Gotcher Wang is with Human Rights Watch. She was born in mainland China. The Chinese government has been promoting this narrative.

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Chinese people are suitable for the Chinese model. We don't get to have democracy. We don't get to have freedom, but we got to have economic development. But last year, the people of Hong Kong put the lie to that idea. Hong Kong, you know, they asking the Chinese and those people rising up because they want freedom, they want democracy. And that's why the story of Hong Kong's protests is so important, even though the Chinese government has cracked down hard because the protesters have already undermined the core argument of the Chinese Communist Party that people, especially Chinese people, prefer stability to liberty.

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And the protests offer lessons for how citizens can stand up to even the most repressive regimes.

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The story began back in 1997, so dude. That year, the U.K. relinquish control of colonial Hong Kong at the ceremony. Prince Charles watched the British flag come down, the Chinese flag go up. Now, the city would be a special administrative region of China.

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The deal was for 50 years, Hong Kong would be autonomous with its own laws and its own democratic government.

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One country, two systems was the slogan Sentencing is a human rights lawyer in Hong Kong. She says people were hopeful.

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So that concept, one country, two systems. I do think that in that historical time they were quite optimistic about it. People in Hong Kong, I think probably in the rest of the world as well, thought that China's opening up and they will accept Western liberal values, protection of rights, democratic systems, respect for the people of China, in other words, would become more like Hong Kong and not the other way round.

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And I think no one really saw this authoritarian system control coming until it really hit in recent years.

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When it did hit, it hit hard after Xi Jinping became the leader of the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party, his government did not act like Hong Kong was going to remain autonomous for long. It pushed for so-called patriotic education and Hong Kong schools.

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It started turning local media into a CCP propaganda machine.

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And in 2014, the CCP insisted that any political candidate running for Hong Kong's highest office had to be approved by China. So outraged students rose up and form the umbrella movement, sort of Hong Kong version of Occupy Wall Street. So this is no longer just students causing a bit of a hassle. This is people joining them and taking over the whole city. They're blocking everything off in this whole financial district, the umbrella movement.

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It was one of the most important fights for democracy in Hong Kong. So it was the Occupy movement for 78 days.

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But we achieved nothing from that and that energy, it just died down, people lost hope after 2014 and in the past few years after the umbrella movement, people just went back to their lives. They didn't care that much anymore.

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They felt too helpless, Apathy said. In election, turnout plunged. Hong Kong's pro-democracy party started losing elections in the CCP, started to assert itself more in Hong Kong life.

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And all of a sudden this extradition bill came along.

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The extradition bill. It was introduced last year by Hong Kong politicians friendly to Beijing. It would have allowed Hong Kong citizens accused of crimes to be shipped off to stand trial in mainland China. And you can probably guess how fair the courts are in mainland China.

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So this created severe fear inside the hearts of the people, and especially the younger generation. They were thinking, this is my last fight. I have no future anyway. Hong Kong is going to become just like China. I don't know whether I will win or lose, but at least right before I die, I have to try and struggle and fight against it. So on June 9th.

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Twenty nineteen. Kim, public protests, the likes of which the city had never seen before. Austin Ramzy was there. He's the Hong Kong bureau chief for The New York Times. You know, I covered many, many marches in Hong Kong, sort of along that same route. But it was clear that this was very, very different. There's just this wide road for six lanes that was just completely filled with people moving very slowly. And I went with them to the government headquarters, which took a while.

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And then I sort of double back, got to the point where it started about three hours after I've been there. And it was the same sort of size mass of people moving down the street, filling up all these lanes. And that was when it really hit home for me that this is just a huge number of people, that it turned out a million people, about 15 percent of Hong Kong's entire population.

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Three days later, another protest with even more people.

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Some of them clash with the police. Among them was a student called John. He asked us to not use his real voice in the early protests. The police were mainly using tear gas. But we find a lot of tear gas, people leaving the scene, but the police still trying to fire tear gas and even be trying to fire rubber bullets and other forms of different kinds of bullets. And it's really it's really ridiculous.

[00:36:08]

Hong Kong is a peaceful city. They're not used to seeing violence, especially not from their own police. Soon, they weren't just protesting the bill. They were protesting the Chinese Communist Party. The root problem, the root cause of all of this mess is not about the extradition bill or whatever. It's about the mistrust of the government or the CCP. It's about the tightening grasp of CCP on Hong Kong is about any government in Hong Kong prioritizing the CCP wishes or demands over Hong Kong its interests.

[00:36:42]

In the protests were happening all over the city all the time, small, peaceful protests would appear out of nowhere in the middle of a workday, hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets on weekends.

[00:36:53]

Meanwhile, students barricaded themselves in universities where battles raged for days.

[00:37:01]

You constantly hear tear gas firings, bom, bom, bom, bom, and you constantly hear people screaming, screaming for help, screaming for first fascinators, screaming for backup's it it almost feels like a battle ground even when they weren't.

[00:37:16]

Austin Ramzy says there was a sense of resistance everywhere.

[00:37:19]

The city was covered with images, with posters, with graffiti, just, you know, filling subway underpasses with just huge amounts of imagery and messages and slogans and things like that. There were songs and protest anthems that that sprung out of this.

[00:37:48]

So, yeah, you can see even when protests aren't happening, you can still see signs of it on the streets every day. In October 2009, Hong Kong's leadership formally withdrew the extradition bill. In November, pro-democracy activists won overwhelming victories in local Hong Kong elections.

[00:38:15]

But under the cover of the covid pandemic this summer, the Chinese Communist Party decided to change the laws anyway as a new national security law was rammed through, which gives the government broad powers to crackdown. The hard truth is that not every mass movement succeeds the first time or even the second, but there's still much to learn from what did happen. How did Hong Kong keep these protests going? What lessons can other movements draw from their experience? I talked to sentencing last year as a protest ruled on, she said, a key tactic pretty simply was flexibility.

[00:38:57]

One of the failures of the umbrella movement was that during that 79 day movement, we had to stop our lives because we were protecting that occupied area. People had to stop working, they had to give up classes, jobs, and it just couldn't work. It was not sustainable. So, for example, nowadays the working class, they go to work and then for lunchtime they all gather, they go down. And during lunchtime they just have a spontaneous protest right in the middle of Central.

[00:39:30]

And then they go back to their offices and work. And this is a continuous movement for weeks now, that tactic hints at one of the biggest reasons these protests continue. Everybody was welcome to contribute however they could, even if they didn't agree about everything.

[00:39:47]

So what's successful this time is that we always remind ourselves and remind each other that, no, we're in this together. We cannot afford to split the working class. They have families to take care of. They can't afford to get arrested. So they will take a peaceful role. And the younger generation, maybe they feel that I want to be more radical. So they will take what we call the front line protesters role. We are all cooperating. We are not blaming each other.

[00:40:15]

Don't segregate, don't divide. The impact of their example has already rippled out beyond Hong Kong. You see, just as authoritarian governments learn from one another, so do citizens who resistant across Asia. Democracy activists are already teaching Hong Kong tactics to local protesters. In last fall, the people of Taiwan deployed those tactics themselves to shut down.

[00:40:40]

Typhoon Rheins weren't enough to extinguish the passion felt by the tens of thousands of protesters here.

[00:40:47]

A few months later, the pro independence leader saying when one Taiwan's presidential election by a landslide. But in Hong Kong, protesters knew their movement faced long odds. Here's John, the student protester speaking before China passed those laws this summer meant to snuff out the protests.

[00:41:10]

There are two possible futures for Hong Kong. The first way is the CCP continues to crack down on people's freedom on these kinds of rallies and stuff. And actually, as normal citizens, we have no power, we don't have guns, we cannot have a civil war. So the inevitable end is we get controlled by the CCP and they swallow Hong Kong. And the second possible future is that maybe these kinds of foreign countries like the US have shown an ability to negotiate with China, help Hong Kong if they see interest in Hong Kong and being able to help Hong Kong.

[00:41:44]

I think Hong Kong can still enjoy freedom of speech and a similar level of freedom compared to before.

[00:41:49]

For now, it's clear the CCP is sticking with the first option where they swallow up Hong Kong. So what should the U.S. do about it and about the challenge of authoritarianism more broadly? For pretty much any president, supporting these protests would have been a no brainer, but as the protests grew, Trump remained silent last November just to make it easy on Trump. Congress almost unanimously passed a bill mandating sanctions against China. If it threatens Hong Kong's human rights, would Trump sign it?

[00:42:20]

Well, I'll tell you.

[00:42:20]

Look, we have to stand with Hong Kong, but I'm also standing with President Xi. He's a friend of mine. He's an incredible guy. We have to stand, but I'd like to see them work it out, OK?

[00:42:31]

Trump did sign the bill eventually. And more than six months later, after China passed its national security law, Trump imposed some sanctions. But not only was it too little, too late, it ignored something that's more powerful than sanctions. America's own example.

[00:42:48]

The world pays attention to what America does, much more so than they pay attention to what we say.

[00:42:54]

And so the visual of an American military force clearing out peaceful protesters with pepper spray is absolutely devastating to our attempts to try to stand up for democracy abroad.

[00:43:14]

That's Senator Chris Murphy, who notes just as Trump was starting to speak up more about freedom in Hong Kong, he was undermining freedom in America.

[00:43:22]

There was a journalist who surveyed a number of present and former Chinese leaders and all off the record. They confirmed what we knew, that China is rooting for four more years of Donald Trump.

[00:43:34]

And the reason that China is moving so fast to push into Hong Kong right now is because they worry the clock is ticking and they know they can get away with things under President Trump that they likely can't get away with under a President Biden.

[00:43:52]

So what would a real effective U.S. strategy to combat authoritarianism look like? Step one, according to Samantha Power, demonstrate the power of democracy by doing something they can do in China, vote a corrupt leader out of office to tell a story about how President Trump came along and really threatened the independent media, the independent judiciary, election integrity itself, and that those institutions bent over this four year period, but did not break the ultimate repudiation of this kind of systemic attack on democratic institutions that this corrupt, undemocratic leader of the United States embodied.

[00:44:38]

It'd be a first necessary move, but just a first step. We have a lot more work to do to make our democracy work better at home so we can offer a better democratic example, a broad step to champion nations that reject corrupt leaders themselves and hold them up to the world as examples of their own. What a post Trump U.S. foreign policy must do is it must have the back of those countries that have made the really hard choice to unseat a dictator as occurred in Armenia, Ethiopia, Sudan.

[00:45:12]

Those are the kinds of modern reformist leaders who should get the early Oval Office meetings with the next president of the United States.

[00:45:23]

And step three, get back to doing what America used to do, invest in people in places like Africa.

[00:45:32]

Remember Fred Swaniker from Ghana, he can tell you what the payoff is, you know, I went to the U.S. on a scholarship, and so I left as an ambassador to the U.S. So much innovation that the U.S. has benefited from is because they've actually made it possible for the best brains to come and study them, whether it's from India or China or even from Africa. And increasingly more of them are having to look elsewhere because it's harder for them to get visas.

[00:45:57]

And those are all future African leaders that could have been influenced by the US.

[00:46:04]

And some of those people we welcome to America should be from Hong Kong. David Miliband was Britain's foreign secretary.

[00:46:10]

I think we are confined not just to protest, but to actions that can try to protect individual Hong Kong. As if I was a Hong Kong looking just in the week that the details of the new law become clearer or clearer and all the dangers that are there for Hong Kong. Those who are thinking about protest or about saying anything, I think there is an important way in which the opportunity to seek a new life in a new country. It's right for that to be available.

[00:46:40]

Britain's doors will be open to millions of Hong Kong. So should America's. In other words, to combat the rise of China's political model, we don't need more nuclear weapons, we don't need a trade war, we need to take down Trump's barriers between us in the world, reach out to people with programs, improve America's on their side as they work for a better life, strengthen the rules that govern how nations act and unabashedly stand up for democratic values on the world stage if we do.

[00:47:09]

Jake Sullivan says it's not just people around the world who will take note. China's government will, too.

[00:47:14]

China is also a practical country where if they feel resistance and pushback and shaping around the rules and institutions and norms of the world, they'll adapt. And so I think the United States needs to take a mindset that this is not Cold War 2.0, but rather that we need to be deeply focused on building our own capacities, rallying the democracies of the world, developing a clear sense of what we're trying to lay down as the rules of the road and all of these key areas, and then talking to China about terms of coexistence, where we can each learn to live with one another as major powers and also solve the big problems that can't be solved without us working together.

[00:47:58]

Climate change being at the top of that list, I think that's all possible. It's not easy, but it's possible. Next week on Missing America, a virus that could keep us from executing this plan and that cries out for a new rule book, disinformation may have heard about Russia's involvement.

[00:48:22]

But how about Myanmar's? The incident had barely started taking off in Myanmar.

[00:48:26]

And still there was this really powerful effect of social media just amplifying something that anybody could have posted, the damage disinformation can do and how America's uniquely positioned to fight it.

[00:48:40]

That's next. Week, Missing America is written and hosted by me, Ben Rhodes. It's a production of Crooked Media.

[00:48:51]

The show is produced by Andrea Gardner Bernstein. Rico Gagliano is our story editor. Austin Fisher is our associate producer, sound design and mixing by Daniel Ramirez. Production support and research from Nimmy Ibori in Sydney.

[00:49:07]

Ratt Fact Checking by Justin Kozko Original Music by Marty Fallowed.

[00:49:14]

The executive producers are Sarah Gaymer, Larry Smith and Tanya So Dominator special thanks to Emmanuel Joce, Alison Falzon, Tommy Vietor, John Lovett and John Pfeiffer.

[00:49:27]

Thanks for listening.