Krach on Voice of America: The free world will stand with Taiwan

“If we use trust principles as a weapon against authoritarian regimes, like the CCP, freedom will win every time.”

Source:  Voice of America   Interviewer: Daphne Fan

Daphne Fan: U.S. former Under Secretary of State Mr. Keith Krach is joining us from San Francisco. Mr. Krach, great to see you again.

Keith Krach: Great to see you, Daphne, thanks for having me on.

Daphne Fan: Mr. Krach, you were the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat to visit Taiwan in four decades, and then we remember that you were greeted by Chinese bombers and fighters like nearly 40 of them when you visited Taiwan last year. And over the past week, PLA has sent more than 150 aircraft to fly over Taiwan. What’s your take on the growing crisis across the Taiwan Strait?

Keith Krach: Yeah, Daphne, you know, they’re doing it for a couple of reasons. The first is to intimidate the Taiwanese who cherish their democracy and intimidate them into giving up their free will to stand their ground, which they’re going to continue to stand their ground. The other is really, I think, to test the U.S. and the free world, you know, after the Chinese state media openly mocked Taiwan for relying on the U.S. for its defense after the Afghan crisis. But I could tell you, with all the domestic issues brewing in China in terms of the real estate and energy crisis, Xi is weaker than he wants the world to believe, and he’s overplaying his hand and tyrants can’t really persuade, so they bully, especially if their own deck of cards is weaker than what they want others to think. And there’s no doubt about it — the U.S. and Taiwan and our allies are going to stand our ground.

Daphne Fan: Mr. Krach, you said that Xi Jinping probably is weaker than what it seems. But, you know, Xi Jinping has called for a peaceful reunification with Taiwan and the expert across the Taiwan Strait, as well as the U.S. Military experts predict that PLA would have the capability to invade Taiwan within six to eight years. And what’s your opinion about the PLA’s possibility to take over Taiwan, even though the price would be very, very high?

Keith Krach: Well, General Secretary Xi sees this as a crowning jewel in his legacy, and it makes those tensions between China and Taiwan more combustible, especially since he’s feeling the heat internally. But I can tell you, most Chinese citizens disagree with his brand of bellicose actions, and it really makes him look desperate. And here again, the free world stands with Taiwan in both diplomatic and economic realms. And, you know, a CCP military invasion would be his political demise. And and you know, the one thing Daphne, you know, in my 60 bilaterals that I had as Under Secretary of State with foreign ministers, economic ministers. You know, I could see that these guys were intimidated by China and their actions. They’re a bully. And you know, the one thing I know about bullies is that when you confront them, they back down and they really back down when you have your friends by your side. And that’s why an alliance of democracies is so key to defending Taiwan.

Daphne Fan: And President Tsai Ing-wen also vowed in her National Day speech that Taiwan will not bow to China’s pressure, and will continue working with like minded countries to stand on the front line to defend against the threats from authoritarian region. What’s your take of President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech?

Keith Krach: Well, I’m a big fan of President Tsai, I and I really appreciated being over the Taipei house, having dinner with her when I was over there. You know, she recently stated that the people of Taiwan have made it clear to the entire world that democracy is non-negotiable and Taiwan will not bend to that pressure. And same with my friend, Taiwan Foreign Minister Wu. You know, he put an exclamation point on that. And I have an unwavering belief in the strength of Taiwan’s leaders and the citizens that they’re going to stand their ground. And I know they have the support of us and our allies. And you know what we showed when we put together the Clean Network that defeated the CCP’s 5G master plan and created this nonpartisan model. This was a great success when we all stand together. And, you know, as a result of that, that’s probably why my family was sanctioned by the Chinese government and I will not bend the knee to emperor Xi. And I know the Taiwan people won’t either.

Daphne Fan: And Mr. Krach, with Taiwan becoming an increasingly critical issue between U.S. and China, do you think Washington has a clear and effective policy to deal with the situation right now?

Keith Krach: Well, this is one of the biggest unifying bipartisan issues on Capitol Hill, and you’re seeing all kinds of congressmen, senators, rallying behind this. And they’ve made that message clear. And I think, the other big thing is that we see the citizens of the world have woken up to the CCP’s 3C’s strategy of concealment, co-option and coercion and citizens of the world now know that the pandemic is a result of the concealment of the virus that’s really coming out now. People can see the cooption of Hong Kong resulted in the evisceration of its citizens freedoms, and they don’t want that to happen with Taiwan. And and then, you know, people are now really hearing about that coercion in Xinjiang and how that has resulted in a punishable genocide. And they don’t like it. and it’s beginning to give strong political will not just to our government leaders, but also to government leaders around the world as well as global CEOs.

Daphne Fan: And let’s talk about another battleground between Washington and Beijing, which is economic and trade. We’ve heard the US Trade Representative, Katherine Tai — she made a policy speech talking about a resumption of US-China trade talks. But some people think she was sending mixed messages, especially when she used a phrase “durable” is the existence of the United States and to describe the economic relations between China and US. What is your make of her speech, as well as the resumption of the US-China trade talks?

Keith Krach: Well, I know one of the things she said was China’s lack of adherence to global trading norms has undercut the prosperity of Americans and all others around the world. You know, in short, the field isn’t level and for the last 40 years, it’s given China a big advantage. You know, Americans believe in fair trade. But when somebody comes in the market and doesn’t play by the rules, the market is no longer free and you’ve got to do something about it. So if you think of our democratic values, things like integrity, accountability, transparency, reciprocity, respect for rule of law, respect for sovereignty of nations, respect for property, respect for the planet, respect for human rights. These are things that we honor. These are things the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t honor. So if I’m competing against you, Daphne, and I don’t have to be transparent and I can use slave labor and I can use coal fired power plants, and I don’t have to obey the law or I am the law. You’re, you know, you’re going to win every time. And you know what? We what we found out was that look, these democratic values — we use them to our advantage instead of their advantage. And that’s what we did with the Clean Network. And basically what we did was we weaponized the very principles that protect our freedoms. And that’s what we’ve got to do here.

Daphne Fan: But now, in terms of the US-China competition, like you said, Chinese state media now believes that their strategy to force US to change its China policy, it’s working. And there’s also kind of a debate and the disagreement within the Biden administration by how tough should be to China. What is your opinion about that?

Keith Krach: Well, I think if the Chinese government media is saying it, the opposite is true. As I’ve mentioned, that the bipartisan support in Washington is huge. And I think Xi knows that neither Taiwan nor the U.S. nor our Democratic allies will bend a knee to that intimidation. And he knows that if he invades, this is going to be his political demise. And you know, the majority of people in China and particularly some of the CCP insiders, they don’t want this.

Daphne Fan: And now we know that you have been busy after leaving the government and then just a couple of weeks ago at the UNGA, you launched a Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue. What is the center’s mission and what makes it unique, Mr. Krach?

Keith Krach: Well, I’m so excited to be the chairman and co-founder of the Tech Diplomacy Center at Purdue. You know it is. It’s now the preeminent global authority for securing freedom through tech diplomacy and trusted technology. It’s the only institution now in the world that focuses on that intersection of technology and foreign policy and national security. You know what I learned in terms of serving from the government coming from 30 years in Silicon Valley is that this is not taught in the State Department, the Treasury, Trade, D.O.D. and this this type of economic techno economic statecraft that we were able to in essence to invent is critical to securing our freedom. And the tech diplomacy center is one hundred percent nonpartisan and serves as a bridge between Silicon Valley and Washington, as well as our allies to advance freedom around the world. And it’s much like that mission with the Clean Network. It’s really we’re forming a global trust network for like minded countries, companies and civil society, and our freedom depends on it.

Daphne Fan: Talking about the technology diplomacy and then we want to have a follow up question for Mr. Krach to talk about the tech war between us and China, because recently there’s one Pentagon. Former senior cybersecurity official at the Pentagon told a Financial Times he thinks that China is on track to defeat the United States in the battle over technology and the US is losing the technology war. Do you agree with his comments, Mr. Krach?

Keith Krach: Well, I saw that comment and I think he clarified it later, he said. “I never said we lost.” He said if we don’t wake up now, we have no fighting chance to win against China 15 years from now. And by the way, I think it’s critical that we rally the tech titans that that we build that bridge between Silicon Valley and Washington. And you know, Daphne, one of the things I was able to do was to bring in a dozen Silicon Valley veterans, technologists, entrepreneurs, results-oriented executives and change them up with the career foreign service. This created a magical winning formula. This is a group that invented techno economic statecraft, which is now the bipartisan model that bridges a Republican administration and a Democratic administration and it’s for all areas of economic competition. So I think it’s really critical that we do that. And there’s the other thing that I would point to, too, is the United States’ Innovation and Competitive Act, which is a combination of two of the bills that we designed. One of those is the Chip Act, $50 billion Chip Act, and the other was $150 billion endless Frontier Act for research investment with our allies in 10 critical national security sectors. So I think we’re beginning to wake that, you know, everybody’s beginning to wake up on this fact and we just can’t sit on our, you know, our haunches. You know, one of the things we’ve got to make sure as well is that, you know, China needs hard currency. And one of the things I was really pleased to see from the Biden administration is that they institutionalized capital market sanctions because, you know, there’s 400 or 500 companies on the commerce entity list. That means we can’t export technology to them. And by the way, the vast majority of those we’re still financing, and we’ve got to close that gap. And these are some of the things that we need to do. We need to wake up to.

Daphne Fan: Mr. Krach, finally, I’d like to have your assessment of overall the current US-China relations because President Biden said that we are not seeking a new Cold War. And Secretary Blinken also said we are seeking to work cooperatively to solve the challenges between Washington and Beijing, even though Biden administration used three words to describe the US-China relations, confrontation, competition and cooperation, we talk about Taiwan issues and also trade talk also about the technology war between Washington and Beijing. What is your overall assessment of Biden’s policy and strategy and the current US-China relations?

Keith Krach: Well, one thing that I had a chance to see before my very eyes and Daphne as, you know, I went to go, I went out to Washington, not really knowing anybody because what I saw in China on my last trip there when I was running DocuSign, you know, I’ve been going there since 1981, and what I could see is amped up economic competition has turned into aggression. And then when I went to the State Department to run economic diplomacy, I could see it get really accelerated and amped up, particularly during the pandemic. And it continues on and I don’t see Xi slowing down his aggression at all. You know, he loves to sign, in essence, a non-aggression pact and it’s really deceptive. And you know, what I have not seen is I have not seen Xi honor any agreements unless it’s to his favor. You know, I mean, if you don’t believe me, just ask the people of Hong Kong.

Daphne Fan: Thank you so very much for joining us today, Mr. Krach. We hope to come to you soon.

Keith Krach: Thank you, Daphne. Take care.