The Growing Threat to the Free World - Heritage Foundation Speech, Washington, D.C.
“Marxists get up early in the morning to further their cause. We must get up even earlier to defend our freedom”. - --- Thatcher
The issue here today is to understand and to recognise the rise of a new threat, a threat to the Free world and all we stand for – Democracy, freedom under the rule of law governed within a framework of Human Rights and Human dignity.
The threat we now face is on par to that we faced during the cold war and even to the challenges of the 1930’s.
In plain view and wilfully ignored is the growing power and growing number of Authoritarian states and the strong linkage between those who govern through autocracy and fear.
The Axis growing.
Hamas’s brutal murder of at least 1,400 Israeli citizens and the taking of 150 hostages some weeks ago was appalling and on a scale not seen before in Israel. Hamas knew what they were doing and what would happen next, deliberate and vile brutality which was to have wider consequences as well.
We all know that despite the denials the Iranian Republican Guard, (IRGC) as sponsors of both Hamas and Hezbollah were involved in this act. Importantly they are Close allies of China and Russia, part of an axis, a new axis of totalitarian states which now poses the greatest threat to our principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
From Beijing in the far East to Tehran, a China centred Axis is growing stronger, bringing in other brutal regional authoritarian powers like Myanmar.
At the centre of this new Totalitarian Axis, sits China, ruthlessly tying states in through Belt and Road across the developing world.
The financial power China now wealds comes from the Free worlds astonishing continuing dependence on China trade, from plastic pots to plasma screens.
And as we ramp up in the drive for Net Zero China is there making and selling more and more. From windfarms, solar arrays, batteries and electric vehicles, almost all of these are produced in China and sold back to the West. Some like solar arrays are even mined by slave labour in Xinjiang, a ‘minor’ detail often hidden from sight.
There is a wonderful hypocrisy abroad which is that those who march on the streets, in particular “Just Stop Oil” activists and others, blaming western democracies for climate change whilst somehow ignoring the huge level of emissions in China. Much lauded Electric cars which these campaigners demand we use are made almost exclusively from fossil fuels. That’s why, China builds one coal fired power station every two weeks.
So many of the very things that we rely on today including telephones and computers, come from China. Even the majority of Rare Earth mines and over 90% of the world’s production of rare earth minerals. These are the minerals that make up the minute magnets in all our mobile phone and computers. Without which we stop.
I shouldn’t need to restate that China has a terrible record of human rights abuses at home, genocide in Xinjiang, slave labour and forced organ harvesting. Not to mention the brutal suppression of democracy campaigners and the introduction of National Security Laws in Hong Kong, whilst trashing the Sino British agreement.
It is also a country that has seized and is militarising the islands in the South China seas despite the UN’s clear ruling they had no rights of ownership.
And as if that wasn’t bad enough, China daily threatens the independent integrity of Taiwan with invasion.
Nothing China does is left to chance.
China is now becoming a world-leader in AI and genomics…
Recently, the UK held an international summit, a crucial gathering to discuss the applications and risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI).
China is the world leader in AI – China has created the most extensive Orwellian technological surveillance state.
AI is used to monitor every aspect of its citizens’ daily lives, cameras, recognising people, reporting back linked to networks of other electronic data from credit cards too.
They are increasingly misusing AI as a tool overseas, with Microsoft recently exposing China's use of AI to target U.S. voters with misinformation.
Yet there is a growing threat which yet again the West has failed to see, growing in plain sight.
China now has a head start in applying AI to genomics which poses a significant threat to our collective national security.
China is a world leader in genomics, with state-backed institutions like BGI Group, the largest genomics company in the world. These large datasets of DNA represent a strategic resource as the combination of genomic data and advanced AI will transform the world.
The potential military application of these technologies also presents a clear challenge.
If China dominates AI and genomics, it will wield unprecedented influence over major industries including global healthcare.
We have long known that Chinese authorities forcibly collect DNA samples from people in places like Xinxiang and employ AI to analyse that data.
Yet wasn’t so clear is that the Free World has been giving BGI Group control over the global genomics industry.
BGI developed pre-natal tests in partnership with the Peoples Liberation Army, (PLA), which are sold in private clinics throughout the world including the UK. These tests, allow China to access the genomic data of both mother and foetus.
We now know that 16 academic institutions in the UK have collaborated with China's BGI Group, astonishingly the authorities see no issue.
The US intelligence services, and the US National Security Commission declared on AI that China was using its largest state-linked genomics company, BGI, as a “vehicle for mass genomic data collection”.
That’s a start, but without proper safeguards across the Free world, , China’s global convergence of AI and genomics poses a significant threat and allowing China to dominate AI and Genomics already represents an existential risk to humanity.
The New Authoritarian Axis
The point is that with this growing power, China has been creating this new Axis.
In March 2023, President Xi Jinping and President Putin met in Moscow reaffirming China and Russia’s "no limits partnership.”
This during Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
China is now the leading partner in this relationship. China has a vested interest in Russia succeeding in Ukraine and sees Russia as a vital part of its plans.
The recent agreement between North Korea and Russia, was brokered by China. North Korea now supplies armaments (most likely from China), particularly artillery shells in return for supplies of much needed energy.
This cooperation between Russia, North Korea and China, also extends to Iran, a long-standing ally of both Russia and China. Iran is already supporting Russia by supplying it with drones. Iran is dominant in the Shia Crescent, which China sees as strategically important as it is where a significant amount of the region’s oil and gas reserves are.
China is now becoming an important regional player: working to bring countries in the middle East particularly the Gulf closer to it, loosening ties to the US and Europe.
With Russia’s attentions elsewhere in Ukraine, China has stepped in and President Bashar Assad met President Xi in Beijing in September 2023, and agreed a strategic partnership. Syria has already joined China’s Belt and Road initiative.
China also assisted in the normalising of pre-existing relationships between Tehran and Riyadh and many of the Gulf states are also forging stronger ties with China.
After the G7 condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China's top security official Chen Wenjing flew to Moscow to openly meet Patrushev, head of Russia's security council.
The Kremlin has readily agreed to use the Chinese Yuan in oil trades and attack the dollar as Petro-currency - Russian Oil now re-badged, often by middle East countries, is transacted and sold to China. In the last year the scale of China’s imports from Russia grew, particularly oil and Gas by 49%.
Put in this context, this attack on Israel serves a wider purpose for the Axis, Russia in particular.
Now with Israel needing military equipment, Ukraine is rightly concerned that the mood on Capitol Hill amongst some has hardened leaving Ukraine exposed. This whilst Russia watches the West distracted as debates rage about whether Ukraine should be a priority.
From the point of view of the Axis, the byproduct of the attack by Hamas successfully smashed a key hope of the West, that through the Abraham Accords, Saudi Arabia and other middle Eastern nations might normalise relations with Israel.
As the reach of the totalitarian axis increases, China and its Belt and Road are becoming more critical to this.
From genocide to slave labour the West continues to turn a blind eye to the threat of China. Threats which President Xi has always made crystal clear.
The Free Worlds post-cold war complacent assumptions are now under threat as never before. We need to recognise the threat of this new Axis and face up to it before it is too late.
It starts with recognising that the war in Ukraine, the war in Gaza against Hamas and China’s overt threat to invade Taiwan are all of a piece. They are linked inexorably through this axis. To ignore one is to multiply the danger in the others. If Ukraine loses or is forced into some weak settlement with Russia, as before in the Minsk agreements then it will have been down to a failure of the West to will the means to drive Russia out of Ukraine. This in turn will be the strongest signal that the Free world will not stand by Taiwan.
For those who say we can’t afford to support Ukraine if we want to support Taiwan. I say you can’t afford not to. If we don’t see it through, then the Axis will have won.
Furthermore, the Axis will have clear evidence of what they have believed for some time, that the Free World cannot stay the course.
Just look what happened when we withdrew so disgracefully from Afghanistan, China warned Taiwan that it showed the Free world wouldn’t stand with them on their day of reckoning - Ukraine’s failure becomes Taiwan’s and Israels as well.
Even now at home, the West is engaged in a damaging culture war where one group is pitted against the other smashing tolerance and responsibility in the pursuit of absolute rights. This is tearing western societies apart much to the delight of the Axis and often fomented by them. As their ‘useful idiots’ scream and shout at western governments, the Axis sees the benefits from a divided west.
Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on the 7th October, a number of participants in the marches in the UK have proactively flown Hamas flags and vile antisemitism is again on the march in our streets.
The west seems to be losing heart as the arguments over the war in Ukraine mount here in Washington and in other cities in Europe.
Having been in Ukraine twice working with a charity bringing relief to the dispossessed, close to the front, I have seen for myself what the war there means. Thousands are dying to get what we have taken for granted, Freedom. If the Free world cannot support that cause, what hope is there for any of us.
The question is what happens if we let Ukraine fail?
Surely if we had wanted Ukraine to win, by now we would have willed the means, and it could have been over. When you see Ukrainians trying to clear minefields at night with bayonets and getting killed in large numbers, all the other internal arguments about the spending support given by the USA and others in Europe misses the point.
What does the US President and his key allies want and why?
After all, despite all the debate and argument, the most vital point is that the problem isn’t Ukraine, it is Russia. Are we being intimidated by Russia whose very mention of their nuclear weapons seems to have some as in the German leadership calling for negotiation? How ironic when the last time they did that it led to a much bigger war.
I recall under the leadership of Regan and Thatcher we stood up to such threats and made them back down. The Soviet Union was a lot more powerful then
Now as the Axis grows, we in the free world cannot afford to diminish.
It's a short political walk from Ukraine to Taiwan, via Gaza but the cost will far outstrip what we are paying now.
There are now more states that do not govern by democracy, than those that do.
When the Berlin Wall came down, the Free world thought that democracy and freedom had won. We were wrong.
The lesson is Freedom cannot be taken for granted. We learned about the failure in the 1930’s of appeasement and in the Cold war we understood the importance of strength.
As Reagan said:
“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again”.
Freedom isn’t free, and if we can’t see that in the free world what hope is there for all of us.