Transcript: The Rise of "the New Chinese Order" - Peter Navarro 7 December '15

[Starts at 35:39]

Thom Hartmann: In screwed news... Before he started going after Muslims, Donald Trump's main target - besides Mexican immigrants, of course - was China. He literally couldn't stop talking about it.

[montage of clips of Trump saying the word 'China']

As wrong as Trump is about many, many things, he's not wrong about China. Normalizing trade relations with that country was arguably one of the biggest mistakes in recent American history, and it's led directly to the loss of millions of jobs and our ballooning trade deficit. It's also helped the Chinese government boost its military spending - something it's putting to good use in the South China Sea - where they're now flexing their naval muscle and fighting with neighbors over shipping rights.

Which raises the question - could the U.S. and China ever go to war? And if so, what - if anything - could we do to prevent that from happening?

Let's ask Peter Navarro, Economist and Professor of Economics at the University of California - Irvine and author of the new book Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. Peter Navarro - welcome.

Peter Navarro: Hi Thom, how are you?

Thom Hartmann: Great to have you with us. What are your thoughts on, your view on what makes China such a threat to American interests?

Peter Navarro: Well, let's remember what day it is today. It's the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and I think if you look at the historic parallels between imperial Japan and rising China, that's what makes it so dangerous. I mean, after all, here's what they share: Imperial Japan back in the thirties had a vision of Asia that they wanted to create a co-prosperity sphere and control the territory and markets and resources of Asia.

I think China in recent years dropping all pretense of its peaceful rise has had the same imperial dream. It claims Taiwan. It wants 80% of the South China Sea. It claims the Senkaku Islands from Japan. And what it shares with imperial Japan as well is a military, a very modern military, often built by foreign technology. The imperial Japanese got their start with warships built by the British and French. China, its navy couldn't float without diesel engines from the French, German Air-Independent Propulsion systems, Russian technology, Swedish technology.

And their strategy is also what makes them dangerous, Thom. They have the same strategy that Japan did. They want to construct a perimeter far out into the Pacific like the Japanese did. It took us 3 years to fight through that. Many of the islands where blood was shed are hallowed ground in the American ? They want to do the same thing for the same reason. What interferes with imperial Japan's vision and with rising China's was an America dedicated to democracy and freedom and strong alliances with other countries in Asia.

Thom Hartmann: Well, when Japan was rising in power, people pointed to admiral Perry's ships showing up there, whenever that was, my recollection 1830s?

Peter Navarro: Back in the, yeah, 1830s, '40s, '50s, '60s. The Meiji Restoration, Thom, was the tipping point for Japan becoming and outward-looking power and why that was motivated by the realization, Japan got it. They see Perry show up, they see what's going on with the Chinese fleet, and they go, 'we've got to do the same'. So they turned on a dime.

Thom Hartmann: So the argument that was made about don't worry about Japan back in the '30s and '20s was, you know, Japan's always been an inward-looking country, and that's the argument that's being made about China, now.

Peter Navarro: Correct.

Thom Hartmann: Look at that. 'They've always been an inward-looking country, it's the Middle Kingdom, they built a wall, the Great Wall of China. They really don't want to go out. They just want to protect themselves.' Isn't there some validity to that argument?

Peter Navarro: There's some more history there. We underestimated imperial Japan. It wasn't until they sunk the Chinese fleet in the late 1800s and beat Russia in 1905 that the world began to wake up to that imperial power. That's when that awareness came. We think that we're so strong, that we have the most modern military in the world, that China could never catch up. But guess what? As you said with your opener, we've shifted over 70,000 factories from US soil to China. They're the ones who can build the weapons of war that they need and out-produce us.

And as for technology? They've stolen, through cyber espionage and conventional espionage, virtually every major weapon system that we have. F-22, F-35, Aegis Battle Management System which is the lynch pin of security in the Asia Pacific, Osprey helicopter. You name it. Every weapon system. We as taxpayers pay a lot of money for the research and development on it.

Thom Hartmann: They're building these things in China right now?

Peter Navarro: They are. They've got Aegis Battle Management System clones on their own ships plus when they steal it, they know how to defeat ours. The Chengdu J-20 is their fifth generation stealth fighter that they flew for the first time in a test when Robert Gates was Secretary of Defense and they did it right when he was on Chinese soil, in your face.

Thom Hartmann: Wow.

Peter Navarro: And so, I think, my point here is simple. We've got an election coming up. You mentioned Donald Trump. He has it exactly right on the economy. We need to crack down on their currency manipulation. We need to crack down on illegal export subsidies. But we have to understand, when we go into Wal-Mart now, when we buy that stuff, the money is being used to build things like anti-ship ballistic missiles, which can be launched from a thousand miles away on the Chinese mainland and hit our aircraft carriers at sea in the Taiwan Strait.

Thom Hartmann: Wow, that's amazing stuff.

Peter Navarro: So, this is, to me, Thom, this is, should be the election issue.

Thom Hartmann: We are, I don't disagree. Peter Navarro, the book is Crouching Tiger. Thanks so much for being with us.

Peter Navarro: Yes. So pleased to meet you.

Thom Hartmann: Great to have you with us.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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