The US is in a Cold War with China over Taiwan, expert says


(WASHINGTON) — National security expert and co-founder of CrowdStrike, Dmitri Alperovitch, discusses rising tensions between the U.S., China, and Taiwan in his book “World on the Brink.”

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited China to meet with President Xi Jinping and China’s foreign minister. During the meeting, President Xi expressed his belief that the two nations should work together as partners rather than rivals.

However, an escalating trade war, differences of opinion regarding Taiwan, and opposing views on the Russia-Ukraine conflict have all contributed to the increasingly tense relationship between the United States and China.

Alperovitch says he feels like the U.S. is in another Cold War with China and they must win the artificial intelligence race, the semiconductor race and the space race.

ABC News had an in-depth conversation with Alperovitch as he dissected the intricate geopolitical challenge the U.S. is facing with China.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Late last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to China to meet with President Xi and China’s foreign minister. President Xi said the two countries should be partners, not rivals, but a growing trade war, differing opinions on Taiwan and opposing views on the Russia-Ukraine war have only further contributed to the sharp tensions between our two countries.

In his new book, “World on the Brink: How America Can Beat China in the Race for the 21st Century,” leading national security expert Dmitri Alperovitch, who is also co-founder of one of the world’s largest cybersecurity companies, CrowdStrike, breaks down the geopolitical challenge the U.S. faces with China.

First and foremost? How to deter China from invading Taiwan. And joining us now is Mr. Alperovitch. Dimitri, thank you so much for joining us.

So just last week, China described that they’d like to have a peaceful reunification with Taiwan. In response, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. continues to pursue the One China policy and does not support Taiwan independence. What do you think of that response? Does that sound like the United States will not support, defend Taiwan if China decides to invade?

DIMITRI ALPEROVITCH: No. The One China policy means that we are for the status quo. We’re not for forceful reunification or unification with Taiwan or else do not support Taiwan declare independence. This has been our policy for 50-plus years. However, China is the one that is trying to break the status quo. They are the ones that are gearing up for invasion, train their military to execute this plan, similar to what [Russian President] Vladimir Putin did in Ukraine. They’re trying to do in Taiwan.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And you warned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine long before many others did. And you quote national security official Rob Joyce in your book who says Russia is a hurricane and China is climate change. What did he mean by that?

ALPEROVITCH: He means that it’s a pacing throughout. This is a long-term play for China. Russia is an immediate problem. Certainly the brutal war that they’ve waged in Ukraine is a major concern for us. But I believe in the next 4 to 8 years, China may go after Taiwan. And the reason why that timeline is that Xi is now in his 70s. He is looking at the end of his term, potentially in 2032, and he wants to do this on his watch, just like Putin wanted to do it on his watch in Ukraine.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And so you, do you feel that this is a matter of when, not if?

ALPEROVITCH: I think for Xi, yes. I think another Chinese leader may push this off to future generations, but he has said specifically he wants to do it in his time frame.

ABC NEWS LIVE: With regard to our economy, our military, the United States certainly seems to be in a better place than China. But what do we need to do in order to really try to deter them from invading Taiwan?

ALPEROVITCH: Well, I believe there are two things here: I believe we’re in a Cold War with China. Cold War 2, as I call it, that is remarkably similar to the first Cold War.

And the first thing is, yes, we need to make sure that China does not take Taiwan. Taiwan is really existential to U.S. interests because of its position in the region; whoever controls Taiwan, really controls that Indo-Pacific region. But secondly, we have to win the Cold War, and that is a technological war. We have to win the AI race, the semiconductor race, the space race, all of those things that are playing out right now in the technological realm. We have to make sure we’re leading.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Do you think that we’re well suited to win those races?

ALPEROVITCH: I think we have all the ingredients for victory. The big question is, do we have the political will?

ABC NEWS LIVE: And what do you say with regard to China’s economy? I mean, it’s pretty much in shambles at this point because of a real estate bubble. But does that make them more likely to invade Taiwan or less likely?

ALPEROVITCH: In the past, you’ve certainly had cases where domestic disturbances have led to adventurism overseas, whether it’s Mao interfering in Korea, Korean War or Vietnam War, during the Cultural Revolution. So it may very well drive Xi if he thinks that he’s not going to catch up with the United States in terms of being the biggest economy, it may drive him to go for this sooner.

ABC NEWS LIVE: I want to ask you about TikTok. That’s not something that you discuss in your book, but as a cybersecurity expert, how dangerous do you think the TikTok really is? Obviously, Congress seems to think if it’s not sold by its parent company that it should be banned. Do you feel that that’s too drastic of a step?

ALPEROVITCH: No, I don’t. And the danger here is really not privacy, because, let’s face it, Americans have no privacy anymore. All the data is available.

The Chinese can buy it off data brokers the dangerous influence, because you don’t know what you are seeing on TikTok and what you’re not seeing, what is being filtered by both the algorithms and moderators on that platform. It is controlled by foreign adversary.

And imagine if we had Pravda published in the United States everywhere at the same subscription numbers as The New York Times; would never let that happen during the first Cold War. We should not let it happen during second.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Dmitri Alperovitch, we thank you so much for the discussion. Quite an insightful conversation.

ALPEROVITCH: thank you

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