US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon has issued a blistering condemnation of McKinsey & Company, Goldman Sachs and an advocacy group representing some of the most prominent Chinese Americans, as he stepped up his rhetoric about the need for Washington to confront China.
Speaking on Tuesday at a Washington event organised by the Committee on the Present Danger: China, or CPDC – which also featured Senator Ted Cruz and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich – Bannon excoriated groups that have promoted business and cultural ties with China.
These ties, the former White House chief strategist said, have assisted efforts by the Communist Party of China to dismantle an international order of the “nation state on the shoulders of a free citizenry” forged centuries ago in the West.
“All the McKinsey guys, all the Booz Allen [Hamilton] guys, all of the law firms, all of the accounting firms, Goldman Sachs, my old firm, all of the commercial banks, all of them” know about the Chinese government’s policies towards Uygurs and Christians and other religious minorities, and “the enslavement of the Chinese people”, Bannon said.
Efforts to stop China’s advance, as the United States did with the Soviet Union, “is the defining event of our time”, Bannon added.
“One hundred years from now, this is what they’re going to remember us for, and I guarantee you that we’re going to identify those members of the elite that sold us out and continue to sell out the American people and sell out the Chinese people.”
Booz Allen Hamilton said it does no business in China. McKinsey and Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to queries sent about Bannon’s comments outside of regular business hours.
CPDC was launched to facilitate “public education and advocacy against the full array of conventional and non-conventional dangers” posed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, the group said in an announcement last month.
Wednesday’s event in Washington was the first in a series of conferences planned by the group to raise awareness of its cause, the objectives of which include an abandonment of the Trump administration’s efforts to strike a deal that will end the US-China trade war that started last year.
Since then, US-China tensions have reached levels not seen since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing 40 years ago. The CPDC seeks to amplify all of the outstanding issues that prompted Trump to slap punitive tariffs on imports from China, including barriers to the country’s domestic markets.
The group aims to expand the debate with warnings that US telecom equipment makers are falling behind Chinese company Huawei in the marketing of 5G mobile networks globally, and that the Chinese military’s technical prowess is becoming a dire threat to America’s military capability.
“Our vulnerability in space is profound,” said Cruz. “The Chinese are investing billions in offensive weaponry in space … It’s all fine and good to have a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, but do you know how to land it if GPS goes down?
“We need to be investing far more vigorously in defending space” to counter China’s eventual ability to jam US satellites, Cruz added.
Bannon, Chinese military officers and book that made him a China hawk
The CPDC did not limit the targets of its opprobrium to business leaders and politicians who they say are not taking China’s ability to threaten the US seriously. Bannon also hit out at the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American advocacy group that includes Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the architect I.M. Pei.
“The Committee of 100, this highfalutin’ group of the best of the best,” Bannon said. “They put out a press release on Sunday … and guess what [they say] the problem is … this is about racial profiling. Tell that to the Chinese people that are enslaved.”
Also known as C100, the group bills itself as being “committed to a dual mission of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China”.
The C100 had said in its press release that the group was “compelled to stand up and speak out against the racial profiling that has become increasingly common in the United States where Chinese Americans are being targeted as potential traitors, spies and agents of foreign influence”.
“Civil rights for Chinese Americans are about American ideals,” said Frank Wu, the C100’s chairman, in response to Bannon’s comments.
Trump plans to make trade war unbearable for China, Bannon says
“Concerns about China and how it has set up its society are a different issue. Due process for Chinese Americans should depend on American principles, not government policies in China.”
The singling out of particular groups as threats to American security is in the CPDC’s DNA. The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) was first established in the early 1950s as a bulwark against the influence of communism in the US.
The CPD gained notoriety in its first iteration when it issued NSC 68, a policy directive that called on Congress to triple the US defence budget to counter the Soviet Union’s expansion. It disbanded after some leading members were drafted into the administration of Dwight Eisenhower,
The second CPD was formed in 1976 by defence hawks from the Democratic and Republican parties who disagreed with Washington’s policy of detente with the Soviet Union.
A CPDC founding member, Bannon was also co-founder of far-right news outlet Breitbart, which he described in an interview with American magazine Mother Jones as a “platform for the alt-right”.
Bannon is also known for being a former vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct data analysis firm that harvested the data of millions of Facebook users to predict and influence political movements.
The CPDC’s vice-chairman Frank Gaffney, who was a defence adviser to former president Ronald Reagan, said the committee was planning more conferences to amplify its concerns about China, and planned to invite leading figures in the Democratic Party including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.