Transcript: The Rise of "the New Chinese Order" - Peter Navarro 17 December '15

Thom Hartmann: Interesting times across the world. We visited the U.S. Congress in our last hour. Let's visit China in this hour. On the line with us Peter Navarro, an economist, professor of economics at UC-Irvine and the author of a new book, Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. The website is, and Dr. Navarro, welcome to the program.

Peter Navarro: Hi Thom, how are you today?

Thom Hartmann: I'm great and I've got the book right here. It's fascinating. What does China's militarism mean to the world in general and more specifically to us here in the United States?

Peter Navarro: It means that China is going to be a very aggressive hegemonic power in Asia over the next 20 to 30 years and they're going to continually come into conflict not just with the United States, but also our Democratic allies in Asia such as Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines.

And you know, Thom, this is an important day for this debate because tonight in New Hampshire, as they say, the Democrats are going to be squaring off and I'd love to see Hillary Clinton asked a question about the so-called Pivot to Asia. I don't know, Thom, if you remember when that came out with great fanfare in 2011, but it was a recognition by Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration that China in particular, and Asia in general, was indeed our future.

The Clinton pivot, as it was called, was the idea that we would move sixty percent of our ships and forces to Asia in recognition of the importance of Asia for markets and for strategy. And it's very interesting as we've gone through the last four years and our Navy has continued to plummet in size of ships, we're going to have sixty percent of the ships over there at some point. We're actually going to have fewer numbers of ships, Thom, because our fleet is shrinking. And so this is the backdrop for this question you ask is, why should Americans care about Asia?

It's our future economic growth and we also have to worry about crazies like North Korea lobbing missiles at us from Asia. Remember, it's the tracking stations in Australia, Japan, South Korea that are going to be our first line of defense against a Chinese or North Korean attack.

Thom Hartmann: Right. First of all, just to correct a point of fact, the Democratic debate, and you can be easily forgiven for not knowing what night it's on because there's basically a total news blackout about it, but it's not tonight. It has been strategically positioned for Saturday night, the last weekend for shopping and for Star Wars roll out for Christmas. So Debbie Wasserman Schultz...

Peter Navarro: Interesting. Well, OK. It's coming up.

Thom Hartmann: She scheduled that debate where nobody would see it.

Peter Navarro: It's like as we shop for Christmas and for Hanukkah and for the holidays. Remember, every time you buy a made in China product, you're helping China build a new missile to sink one of our aircraft carriers.

Thom Hartmann: Isn't it, am I being too futuristic or whatever to think that if the United States ever fights a war with China or anybody else, I mean, Russia shares a huge border with China too and in some places they have concurrent interests and in many places they have differentiated interests or conflicting interests, that particularly given that, you know, we cannot make many of our military weapons without Chinese parts, the Chinese are so competent of the internet, so many of our, so much of our public infrastructure and for that matter our corporate infrastructure has been compromised by Chinese hackers, that a war with China instead of looking like them shooting a missile and taking out an aircraft carrier, might instead be that all of a sudden New York City just goes dark, that Detroit, all the water systems are shut off, that in Denver all of all the sewage systems shut down, that the Internet goes brown in the entire state of Texas, that that sort of thing, that that would be the way that China would launch a war against us rather than throwing a missile at us?

Peter Navarro: Yeah, that's a great observation, Thom. There's a couple of things to say about this, a couple of chapters in Crouching Tiger about it. There's a doctrine that China practice, it's called unrestricted warfare. It's well published, it's well been publicized in the Chinese press and it is precisely the idea that instead of just hitting aircraft carriers or forward bases in Asia, they would go after our electricity grid or our subway system, or...

Thom Hartmann: Or take down the FAA so that no air planes can fly.

Peter Navarro: Yeah, exactly.

Thom Hartmann: So there's no air traffic controllers because they can't communicate with each other.

Peter Navarro: Now let me give you a little twist on that, too, because it actually works in a military environment as well. One of the experts I interviewed from the US-China Commission talked about how if China could gain control of our reconnaissance and control of our ships and planes in Asia during a conflict, they could send an aircraft carrier in the wrong direction. They could take an F-35 heading for, straight to Taiwan, shut off its engine. They could take our supply depots and redirect supplies. And you started the question with this could be fantasy or sci-fi - it's not.

I mean, these are real world plans that we can readily access in the Chinese press as to how they go about prosecuting a war against the United States.

Thom Hartmann: Is there any evidence that, you know, so many of the computers, I mean, I bought a new Apple computer last year, a new laptop, and literally, you know, they sent me the tracking information and I watched it being shipped Federal Express from Shenzhen, which I remember visiting in the mid eighties when it was just a little fishing, you know, a little farming village of maybe 2,000 people and dirt roads, from Shenzhen and all the way to my home, or to the marina where I live. God only knows what was put in that in China.

Is there any, and I think that's probably true of most computers that are being used by American industry and by the American government, is there any evidence that any of those EPROMs or any of those chips that contain, you know, miles of code, have hidden back doors that were put there by the Chinese in anticipation of possible warfare with us?

Peter Navarro: Yes there is, Thom, and again, in the Crouching Tiger book I quote experts who give specific examples. There was one case where the Pentagon had ordered a weapon system and it discovered that a Chinese chip that was going to go into that weapon system had a back door. And for your listeners, what that means is it would allow hackers to go in through that back door and control the system in time of conflict.

So there's that, and then there's many newspaper accounts of that problem and you can see how it's both both a software issue in terms of computer code itself as well as the computer chips themselves which are largely now made in China courtesy of American companies like Intel which ship our production over there.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, courtesy of 40 years of insane trade policies from both parties.

Peter Navarro: Exactly. Exactly right and this is a bipartisan failure, let's be clear about that.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah.

Peter Navarro: I mean, this goes back, you can trace this problem both in terms of the economic loss we've had from Chinese unfair trade practices, to now the military threat. Go back to the seventies from Nixon and Kissinger all the way through Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah. Yeah. Everybody's been doing it, They're all singing this hallucinatory song of free trade which is really just, you know, hey, let's make China rich, let's destroy the American middle class and let's ruin our military. This is really an incredible story, Peter, and we're talking with Peter Navarro, he's the author of the new book Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. You also a movie based on this. Is that movie available anywhere?

Peter Navarro: If you go to, actually, and buy the book, I send you a free link to the film which is a 45-minute standalone film, but it's also the first episode in what is going to be an 11 series episode. And Thom, what I do in the book, it's a kind of fun book to read despite the dark title. It's what I call a geopolitical detective story but the idea here it's like for those listeners who might be skeptical about whether or not... [music] we'll come back to it, I guess.

Thom Hartmann: Yeah, well no, we are out of time.

Peter Navarro: OK, next time then.

Thom Hartmann: But the website is, people can check it out. Peter Navarro, economist and professor of economics at UC-Irvine, Peter, thank you so much for being with us today.

Peter Navarro: Thanks, Thom. Thank you for your time.

Thom Hartmann: Great talking with you. We'll be back.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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