Since leaving the White House as chief strategist to President Trump in August 2017, Stephen K. Bannon has focused almost exclusively on China.
He is a member and co-founder of the “Committee on the Present Danger: China.” He has formed an alliance with a Chinese fugitive billionaire named Guo Wengui, and his daily radio show, “War Room,” launched an entire section devoted to China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic. As a regular commentator on Fox News and the subject of two recent documentaries, “American Dharma” (2018) and “The Brink” (2018), Bannon is sounding the alarms about what he says is a war that has already begun. The Wire spoke to Bannon twice over the past two weeks, first on May 12 and then again on May 23. What follows is a lightly edited interview.
Q. On Thursday, Beijing announced that it was planning new national security laws that could give China’s leaders greater control over Hong Kong and undermine civil liberties in the semi-autonomous territory. This looks like a bold move by Xi Jinping and Beijing’s leaders aimed directly at anti-government protests and dissent. What’s your view of the events now unfolding in Beijing and Hong Kong?
A. Well, this is big. In December, the Senate passed and the House passed, with only one dissenting vote, the Hong Kong Freedom Act [officially known as the 2019 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act]. I think certain requirements have to be certified by the end of May, or the first of June. It’s up for certification right now. And I think it calls for a review of our underlying trade agreements [with Hong Kong]; the whole thing that makes Hong Kong such a great place for capital markets; and the underlying trade arrangements with the United States, including financial matters. Obviously, [the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act] can’t be certified now. This breaks all potential for certification. My strong recommendation is [for the U.S.] to go as hard-core as possible. You pull that immediately. Pull all the underlying trade arrangements we have. Also we stop and limit any activity with the [state-owned] Bank of China, or any mainland Chinese banks. The Bank of China is right there [in Hong Kong]. You restrict all activity with their money centered banks and the United States. Additionally, you go to immediate sanctions; you sanction the individuals, including the Foreign Ministry guys. And if the Politburo passes this, you go to immediate sanctions on those individuals too.
We should call a [UN] Security Council meeting immediately and dare China, as a permanent member, to block it. The world community ought to do this. On Monday morning, a holiday, the President’s got to call a Security Council meeting and dare China to fight it. This is exactly like [what happened to] Czechoslovakia and Austria. We’re in 1938. For Hong Kong, this is that moment. If we blink, we’re heading on a path to war, to a kinetic war, if we don’t stop it right now. The elites are going the wrong way. This is not a cold war. This is a hot information and economic war, and we’re sliding rapidly. We are inexorably going to be drawn into an armed conflict if we don’t stop this now. Now, I’m all for using multilateral institutions. But the United States has to stand up here. Yesterday, the Canadians, British and Australians put out a joint statement. It’s now time to take it to the UN Security Council. This is an abrogation of a treaty that was signed, and essentially ratified by the United States Senate. We did backup legislation for this.