China is one of the most dangerous communists dictatorships in the world. But why should Americans be concerned about what’s happening in a country so far away from ours?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi, Connor.

Connor: Hey, Brittany.

Brittany: So, China is a country talked a lot about these days. I almost, I feel like I said it like Trump, but I didn’t mean to say it like Trump remember China say, how did he say it? China but it’s not just because of COVID, right? During COVID, we heard a lot about ’em, but there are a lot of concerns, not only over how the Chinese government treats its own people. But its influence on the rest of the world. But before we get into this discussion and talk about some scary things coming outta China, I wanna make sure we talk about one thing really quickly, and that’s that, you know, we can talk about other countries being a threat to other places or people like us, but that doesn’t mean we’re condoning going to war. I think that’s a really big misconception. We think like, oh, we don’t, you know, we’re a little bit scared about, you know, what this country’s doing. We have to go fight them. But I think our listeners probably know by now that you and I are pretty anti-war. We talk about foreign policy, I think a good bit on this show. Yeah. But, I just wanted to make sure we made that clear, that we’re not saying like, oh, China does some scary things. Let’s go bomb ’em. That’s not how we solve problems. So we’re gonna highlight these problems and I actually would like our listeners to kind of be thinking in their head, how do you combat bad ideas without going to work? So, to jump right into that, you know, it’s really hard to know where to begin with this issue because I think there’s a lot of problems here. So, Connor, I wanna start by putting you on the spot and asking you to tell us a little bit about, you know, what censorship looks like in China, specifically, like movies and other forms of media out there.

Connor: Okay. So this is interesting. I came across a story recently where I believe it was The Simpsons was going onto, Disney Plus. And in China, they demanded that Disney censor an episode, which talked about Tiananmen Square, which is the big college protest in, I think it was like 1989 or somewhere around there, in Tiananmen Square. And this is where you get the picture of what’s called, tank Man, the guy who’s just holding his groceries, standing in front of this long line of tanks that are kind of marching onto Tiananmen Square to suppress the protests and put a stop to it. And so it’s this very famous incident, which if you’re in China and you search online for Tiananmen Square, you basically can’t find any instance of it because they censor, this event in history because they don’t want their citizens learning about this uprising and unsuccessful, you know, little protest and rebellion, because it might inspire other people to, you know, act similarly. But they try and just scrub it from the internet to the point where even when a Simpsons episode references it, they demand that Disney make a change. Now, if you were a tiny little, let’s say you were, I don’t know, I’m just gonna pick a random country like, Luxembourg If Luxembourg went to Disney and was like, Hey, we wanna censor this, you know, Simpsons episode, you know, Disney would say, go away. We don’t care about you. But China is massive population-wise, right? They, as a country control through their citizens and the whole economy, a ton of economic opportunity. What I mean by that is Disney wants to be able to market its shows and get subscribers from people in China. Cuz there’s so many people in China. And so companies like Disney then feel, and many others feel like they need to self-censor, right? Because they don’t wanna make a political stand, they wanna make money. And so like, okay, fine, we’ll scrub that one just so we can get access to China. And China knows this. They know that they have a lot of what’s called leverage or power. They have negotiating power. And so they can force their way to censor a lot of stuff they don’t like. I mean, there’s, what was it, top Gun, that he had a jacket on the back, I’m remembering. And it had like Taiwan or something like this flag of Taiwan. Oh my goodness. And they went in and like digitally like erased it and painted on a different flag of something unrelated just for the Chinese market, right? You have the NBA where you have, you know, some players. Who was it? There was some, I don’t, I’m not a sport.

Brittany: I can’t remember. I was gonna say ex it wasn’t, was it LeBron?

Connor: I don’t know. Yeah, some basketball player, LeBron. But you know, he’s like, oh, I stand with, you know, Taiwan or Taiwan’s an independent country or whatever, right?

Brittany: Oh, right. And then it was LeBron, I think, who stood up and said like, how dare you say something about China. Yeah.

Connor: Yeah, So, but again, like then the NBA, right? They want to get into that market. And so they then here in the United States censor their players because they don’t want someone even saying something mean about China because it will deprive them of a lot of revenue. So this is the problem with censorship is it’s not just for the Chinese, it’s this global thing where China is kind of a superpower and they can control what people in other countries do because they’ll say, well, you can’t come, they’re not a free country. They’re not a free market. So Disney can’t just go in there. This is a communist country. So if the Chinese government says Disney, you can’t come in here, then they can’t. And so it’s a very controlling country, controlling economy. And so companies across the world, governments across the world, feel like they have to play nice because they will lose access to marketing, you know, and, working with and for all these people in China, if they don’t in, engage, excuse me, if they don’t engage in censorship.

Brittany: Yeah. And it’s, really funny to me what they’ll censor. So, our friend Sean Malone, he was on the podcast a couple of months ago, maybe a year ago now, but he did a great video about this. We’ll put in the show notes about, just the problem America has with Chinese censorship here. And one of the things that always just blows my mind is they can’t see Pirates of the Caribbean in China, but not for any reason. You’re probably thinking it’s because they’re a ghost in the second one. And if you show a ghost, that means you’re religious, cuz you believe in an afterlife. Wow. So you can’t even show like a scary movie that it’s just so funny to me what, you know, what is not allowed and what is allowed. So I think that’s very scary. You mentioned NBA basketball. So right before COVID all over the news, Hong Kong was actually, so Hong Kong is a country. I’m like, is it a country? It’s a territory that is still under Chinese rule, but they used to maintain some independence. And right before COVID, China was trying to control them more than they had been previously. And Hong Kong people were rising up. Yeah. They were even carrying American flats, right? Cause they were saying like, protest. Right? It was beautiful. You’re thinking like, all right, these people are risking their lives and they’re using the American Revolution as, you know, something that keeps them going.

Connor: Immigration. Yeah.

Brittany: Yeah. It was great until you had someone who worked pretty high up in the NBA tweeted out support for them, and he immediately was reprimanded. I mean, he got in trouble for it. And then the NBA wrote a letter in Chinese begging for forgiveness, basically for this what this guy did. But it got worse than that. So people started after that happened, people got very mad. And so people started wearing free Hong Kong shirts and bringing signs to NBA games and they were kicked out of the stands. Wow. So, I mean, it’s crazy because that’s something that is directly hurting people here. Now. They weren’t arrested or anything in China. They would be arrested and they may not ever see the light of day again. But I think it’s still pretty scary that we can’t even say certain things here without having to fear for, you know, censorship.

Connor: It’s interesting the degree to which the Chinese government controls things. You think about a communist country. It’s not just about business, it’s about your whole way of life. you know, we don’t really get into religion in our books really, but it’s a fact of the matter that the Chinese government, like communist countries, always have is they ban religions that are seen as unfriendly or that might create dissidents or detractors. the Catholic church in China, they have a special Catholic church. It’s called like the Chinese Catholic Association, I believe. I didn’t know that. And the Chinese government gets to approve the, you know, the bishops and the, I don’t know all the terminology, but all the leaders of the Catholic church in China. And so they get kind of veto approval and they’ve, and so there’s a whole underground Catholic church just for people who are Catholic, right? Certainly with evangelicals as well. You get these kind of, just like you have a black market, right? In China, there are many people who know about Tiananmen Square, but they use VPNs, which is the special way to kind of access secret parts of the internet that, you know, aren’t censored. And so people in China who use these tools can still bypass them. So just in any, in every communist government, right? There’s always a black market. Frankly, there’s a black market in the United States.

Brittany: Oh, everywhere. Yeah. I think anywhere that there is people, there will be a black market.

Connor: Right, because, you know, people who don’t want to be controlled and don’t wanna pay all these taxes or don’t wanna be restricted and you know how much they can produce or what they can sell, they’re gonna do it anyways and they’re gonna find opportunities. It’s certainly that way with China. And again, on the religious thing, there’s like these underground churches, you know, there are people who’ve been severely punished for, you know, preaching certain things and organizing these churches. And so it’s not just an economic thing. It’s not just that China wants to make money or anything like that. It’s that this is about controlling a message. And it’s interesting, that, in the religious context that I have this quote, I looked up at one point where the Chinese government was saying that they want to make sure that Christianity is taught from a socialist perspective. because for them it’s a political thing. They wanna make sure that it’s not this whole like, you know, Jesus is the king and no other kings. And so the communist government is bad or anything like that, right? Cuz the government sees it as a threat. So to them, they don’t care about religion, it’s not about economics, it’s about power and control. And if people have a certain belief, whether that’s you’re libertarian or you’re Christian or you’re whatever, and if those beliefs lead you to see yourself as, you know, independent and having rights and, you know, morality and truth and all these things, those are threats. Ron Paul always has that great quote, Brittany, you’ve heard it. Truth is treason in an empire by his. Oh yes. And so, you know, it’s not just these little things, it’s that to maintain control, China has to have a tight grip around every aspect of your life. And, that’s what we see happening right now.

Brittany: I think that actually is a perfect bridge into the next thing, which we’ve talked about on other episodes. But that’s the social credit score. Yeah. And part of the reason this is so scary is there are people in America now looking to it and saying, oh, you know, that’s not such a bad idea. But imagine walking around life and people were like, they had an app on their phone that could tell them like, oh, you’re standing next to someone who has bad credit. Credit meaning like, you forgot to pay some of your bills. Or, you know, there you had something on your record that showed that you, you weren’t up to date on paying something, or even this person posted this thing on Facebook, or this person voted for this candidate. So you get, are given a score based on like your political beliefs or even how much money you have or you know, how many kids you have or what family you come from. And everybody was aware of this score. It sounds like something out of a, you know, we talked about, dystopian books and, Orwell, it reminds me of 1984, something like, that’s scary. So that really bothers me, not only because it’s terrible there, but again, because there have been a lot of people here in America thinking that this might be a good idea, especially with COVID stuff. So imagine if you’re not vaccinated and all your neighbors can see that you’re not vaccinated, or maybe you have a different view about COVID as other people and they can see, you know, that you’re given a score because of that just always, that creeps me out.

Connor: It does creep me out. And you know, it’s not just as you point out, like even here in the United States, the so-called land of the free, there are people who advocate for similar things. The problem is that countries like China present a model and it’s to say, well, you know, yeah, we’re not China, we’re not trying to do that. We’re just trying to do a little bit. Right? It’s like we’re not gonna go that far. It’s just that, you know, these ideas over here is what we need. We’re, and so the problem is that I feel like a lot of people, crazy people draw inspiration from these ideas and they look to implement communism light, right? it’s just like, okay, yeah, no, we’re not gonna be that bad, but we do need universal basic income, or we need, you know, $15 minimum wage or social safety net and all these things that the government’s just gonna control your lives. Not to that degree, but, you know, just to a little bit degree, but like any communist government, like the Chinese government rules with an iron fist, this isn’t just them asking nicely. This isn’t them just, and again, this is not to say that other countries don’t have issues and that there aren’t elements of the government in the United States of America that. Yeah. Iron fist and, you know, you think of like domestic terrorism and enemy.

Brittany: Which we have an episode on coming up on domestic terrorism. Yeah. So that was a good, good little mention there, Connor.

Connor: Yeah. And enemy combatants and like, oh, we’re just gonna deprive you of your rights because we say this about you. And now you have, you know, no rights. The United States is not immune from criticism when it comes to abusing authority. obviously a communist country is gonna take it a little bit further than the United States will. And so in China, you have, I mean the, how do you pronounce that? I’m, always so bad with that. The Uyghurs I think, right?

Brittany: Yes, I don’t know. I that’s how I say it, but that does not mean that’s right.

Connor: I think it’s the Weest where they basically have a concentration camp for these minority. They’re kinda this Muslim.

Brittany: They’re Muslim, right? Yes.

Connor: Yeah, This kind of minority group in China. And so China is, you know, punishing them and making them work, potentially killing them. Like it’s like right now in North Korea, right? There’s not, North Korea has declared that there’s no COVID, right? But like, how do you trust that? Or, China is like, oh yeah, we’re, you know, we’ve beat COVID or there’s hardly any cases. It’s like you can’t trust that this government is reporting the truth. Clearly they’re not. and, and so you think of things like the Uyghurs and their oppression. It’s so hard. Like even Nazi Germany, it was so hard for the average German to know what the Nazis were doing because it was hard to get access to information. There was misinformation. The government was, was basically lying and manipulating the truth. And so you have to give a measure of, I don’t know, compassion or understanding for the average German who was just kind of clueless and didn’t know what was actually going on. And I think it’s that way with China right now. We don’t know how bad it actually is. I mean, I think we can make some reasonable assumptions in a communist government, but even with a group like the Uyghurs that you know, images have gotten out and some stuff has leaves, and so here’s this government being very tyrannical. You gotta wonder what we don’t yet know is happening about what the oppression is. I mean, you think of even the single-child policy, right? Where they basically made it.

Brittany: I believe they’ve walked back.

Connor: Well, They now, I believe they now allow you to have two kids. I don’t think completely. I think the policy is now a second child, but where they basically punish you and ban you from having more at the time, from having more than one kid. They would force women to undergo abortions. They would kill babies because they were trying to control a population. And now of course, when you can only have, you know, one baby, everyone wants a boy because, you know, higher economic output and all that stuff. And so now you have this gender imbalance, right? Cuz the government’s trying to manipulate the population. And so you create all these weird incentives, right? You change people’s behavior with these policies. The government got so bad, that they’re like restricting, you know, whether you can have children like it is a real-life dystopian government that I feel like a lot of people don’t pay as much attention to. But my gosh, it’s very tyrannical.

Brittany: I think it’s absolutely right. And just one thing to touch on before I know we’re going a little bit over here, but is that you know, what’s happening in Hong Kong or what was happening in Hong Kong is a really good example of how we combat these bad ideas. We can’t go into another country and force them to do the right thing to their people. We tried that in Vietnam. It did not work out well at all. Oh, we tried that in Afghanistan, it didn’t work out well at all. but, you know, watching the people of Hong Kong rise up against their own tyrannical leaders, that’s how the change happens. That’s how it’s going to happen. So I think that’s an important thing to remember.

Connor: Well, Britney, you mentioned a couple of past episodes, like the social credit score for example. We will link to those, for reference on today’s show notes page, Go check it out. If you haven’t seen those resources in a while, make sure you subscribe to keep listening. We love having you guys on. Thanks for all the support and we’ll see you on the next episode. Until next time, Brittany, we’ll talk to you later.

Brittany: Talk to you later.