Since September 2020, several notable libertarians have established a rapport with political commentator, journalist, and YouTuber Tim Pool. These interactions have resulted in a string of appearances by prominent libertarians on Pool’s daily talk show, Timcast IRL.
Tim’s willingness to host influential libertarians offers a continuing opportunity to present his sizable audience with facts often missing from his own foreign policy analysis—especially regarding America’s relationship with China.
For example, Tim deployed most of his China talking points in a recent interview:
They’ve got concentration camps right now where they’re raping women performing—they’re forcing abortions on them and they’re in concentration camps. They’re expanding rapidly around the world…they’re doing exploration and land purchases in the United States in South America and Africa. They have the Belt and Road Initiative. They are doing so much that is expanding their power. The South China Sea, Taiwan, not to mention the concentration camps and the skirmishes on the border with India.
If given the opportunity to sit down and talk with Tim Pool, this is what I would tell him and his audience.
The Largest Military Buildup Since WWII
Clearly the empire is targeting China…The U.S. seeks to encircle China and make it bow down before the hegemon. The increasing prosperity and freedom of China threatens the empire’s self-image. – Lew Rockwell, 2014
Tim Pool and populist Republicans both claim the Democratic Party is “owned” by China, accusing their liberal opponents—chief amongst them ”China Joe”—of being too “soft” on Beijing’s communist government. However, a brief look at recent Democratic policies reveals the party has been far from friendly toward the People’s Republic, and has worked in tandem with the GOP to pursue the same aggressive strategy.
In 2011, the Obama administration launched its “Asia Pivot,” the largest military buildup since World War II, aiming to create what then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dubbed “America’s Pacific Century.” The “Pivot” saw the Pentagon station two-thirds of its air and naval forces in areas surrounding China, where Washington maintains hundreds of bases and military installations.
Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, fully embraced the shift to the Pacific, with his Pentagon issuing a National Defense Strategy (NDS) in 2018 declaring a refocus from Middle East “counter-terrorism” to “Great Power Competition” with the likes of Russia and China. Much like Obama, Trump spent billions building up the U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific, stoking Beijing’s ire with regular “Freedom of Navigation” missions and other shows of force in Chinese-claimed waters.
Joe Biden has carried through, and even doubled down on, many of the same policies since taking office, reaffirming both Obama’s pivot eastward and Trump’s desire to confront “great powers” on the world stage. Military operations in China’s near-abroad have only increased under Biden’s watch, while his administration has repeatedly declared the U.S. is in “extreme competition” with the PRC.
Last year, Biden sent aircraft carrier strike groups into the South China Sea no less than 10 times—the first occurring just four days into his term—and ordered non-stop deployments of U.S. Navy surveillance vessels in the region. By November 2021, Biden’s military had flown more than 2,000 sorties over the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea, more than doubling the number conducted under Trump in 2020.
Washington is now spending more on its sprawling national security apparatus and globe-spanning Empire than ever, despite perpetual cries of under-funding from hawks in both parties and the military itself. After two decades of waste in the Middle East, the new justification for ever-greater “defense” outlays was stated succinctly by Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall during a speech last year: “China, China, and China.”
Though such hostile policies appear to have gone unnoticed by Pool and Biden’s GOP detractors, China itself has noted the escalating tensions under the current administration. Less than four months after Biden assumed office, the Chinese Defense Ministry was already sounding alarms about ramped up U.S. military operations, claiming to have observed a 20 percent spike in naval reconnaissance missions and a 40 percent increase in surveillance flights in China’s backyard.
In recent segments, Pool has correctly warned against nuclear escalation between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. At the same time, he does not recognize the same pattern of American escalation with China.
Indeed, the U.S. is further nuclearizing the Asia Pacific region through the AUKUS military pact, newly formed between Washington, London, and Canberra as yet another way to counter the PRC. Under the deal, the U.S. will provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia, whose government is following America’s lead in its quest to face down Beijing. Ostensibly, the vessels will not be armed with nuclear weapons, however China is unlikely to take the word of the West on the matter given the sheer destructive capability of a single nuclear-equipped sub.
As Professor Noam Chomsky recently warned:
One U.S. submarine can destroy almost 200 cities anywhere in the world with its nuclear weapons. The United States is sending a fleet of nuclear submarines to Australia, that’s the AUKUS deal…The right measure is not increasing provocation, increasing the threat of an accidental development, which could lead to devastating, even virtually terminal nuclear war. But that’s the direction the Biden administration is following.
In his first congressional address, Biden boasted that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the United States “will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific just as we do with NATO in Europe.” Thus, Washington’s western allies have earnestly joined in on the Asia Pivot as well, with German, French, British, and Canadian warships also sailing waters in China’s near abroad in 2021. This year, NATO—the “defensive” alliance—targeted China in its new Strategic Concept document, accusing the country of posing a “systemic challenge to Euro-Atlantic security.”
The UK’s newly-annointed Prime Minister Liz Truss has openly stated her readiness to order “global annihilation” through a nuclear exchange, reviving atomic brinkmanship not seen since the height of hostilities with the USSR. Illustrating a two-front Cold War mentality, she has been among the most belligerent Western officials in her rhetoric against Moscow, while demanding that NATO take a much larger role confronting China in the Asia-Pacific. As Dave DeCamp, news editor at Antiwar.com, has written:
Truss has also been hawkish in her rhetoric against China and has called for a “global NATO” that’s capable of defending Taiwan and the broader Asia Pacific region. She is expected to be confrontational with Beijing and will reportedly classify China as a “threat” to British national security for the first time.
The Taiwan Tripwire
All of the above embodies the U.S. shift to Great Power Competition with China. However, the most significant tripwire for war is Washington’s increasingly bellicose Taiwan policy, the true nature of which Tim Pool omits from his analysis.
In a video posted July 28, 2022, Pool rightfully warned that Nancy Pelosi’s then-planned trip to Taiwan could provoke a war. He then flippantly declared the government of Taiwan to be the “true government of China”—an incredibly hawkish statement which trivializes a complex and dangerous geopolitical situation while implicitly promoting regime change in Beijing.
Even while acknowledging the provocative nature of the trip, Pool ultimately praised Pelosi’s intent to visit Taipei:
I don’t know if this is the right thing for Nancy Pelosi to do. I want to say I really despise Nancy Pelosi, but I respect this. I absolutely respect this. Standing with Taiwan, I respect. It’s a bold move. I think the U.S. should be speaking up in defense of Taiwan. To a certain degree we don’t want war with China, but it looks like we’re on a dangerous track and no matter what we do, Taiwan will fall to China… [Emphasis added]
Later in the July 28 video, Pool specifically doubled down on his call for regime change on the mainland:
Here’s what I want to see. I want to see Taiwan unified with China. I really really do. I mean I want to see the Taiwanese government take over the Chinese mainland and end the Chinese Communist Party. Very differently from what they’re [the CCP] proposing. My proposal is an end to the Chinese Communist Party and a restoration of democracy and republican values…and an end to the authoritarianism of the CCP.
A few days after Pool’s July 28 segment, Pelosi did visit Taiwan. Predictably, her August 2 junket sparked a diplomatic crisis which risked boiling over into war, provoking days of unprecedented Chinese military drills around the island, the high point of which included a rocket barrage over Taiwan. Nonetheless, an endless parade of U.S. delegations to Taipei followed, marking an all-but-official repudiation of the “One-China” policy, a principle that has underpinned U.S.-China ties since 1979. Though Washington, like much of the rest of the world, has yet to formally recognize Taiwan as an independent country, its increasingly cozy relations with the island risks crossing one of China’s brightest “red lines.”
Biden has also escalated many of the same policies as his predecessors in regards to Taiwan, sending warships through the Taiwan Strait on a near-monthly basis just as Obama and Trump did before him. Moreover, under the current administration American troops are openly deployed to the island to train local forces for war with the mainland.
Though, on four occasions, the White House has attempted to explain away some remarks as “gaffes,” Biden has repeatedly stated the U.S. is renouncing the long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding whether or not U.S. forces would intervene in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan. Biden’s most recent pledge came in late September. In contrast to the first three pledges, the most recent statement will not be walked back, according to Kurt Campbell, Biden’s top Asia official.
Beijing prefers peaceful reunification to resolve the split that occurred at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but also has not ruled out using force to retake the territory—an outcome which aggressive U.S. policies only make more likely.
As Senior Fellow at Defense Priorities and Retired Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis has explained:
It is crucial to understand that for China, the Taiwan issue is not merely a core interest, but an emotionally charged one. They are far more willing to pay extraordinary costs, sacrifice many men, and could risk it all to eventually compel unification with Taiwan. The issue does not directly affect our national security unless we get involved.
If we eventually choose war with China over Taiwan, we will at best suffer egregious losses in ships, aircraft, and troops; in a worst-case, the war could deteriorate into a nuclear exchange in which American cities are turned into nuclear wastelands, killing millions.
America should never take such risks unless our security and freedom are directly threatened. Fighting China for any reason short of that would be a foolish gamble of the highest order.
The State Department recently approved a $1.1 billion weapons sale to Taipei, Biden’s largest arms transfer to the island yet. Congress, meanwhile, will soon vote on a bill which would provide Taiwan with $6.5 billion in military aid until 2027, make the island a de facto “major non-NATO ally,” and accelerate further weapons sales.
The provocative legislation, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022, would also require a “robust” anti-Beijing “sanctions regime” if the mainland “is knowingly engaged in a significant escalation in aggression.” This bill would, by design, eviscerate the One-China Policy, making a war over Taiwan, likely including the U.S., all but declared.
Pool’s suggestion that the U.S. is headed for conflict with China “no matter what we do” reflects an air of fatalism that has permeated his news coverage over the last three years. Pool often insinuates the inevitability of war by citing “Thucydides’ Trap,” a theory stating that when a rising power confronts a waning power, war is the probable result.
Thucydides’ history of the Peloponnesian War is a foundational text in the field of international relations. It concerns the ancient historian’s observations as to why the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta went to war in 431 BC.
In Pool’s application of Thucydides’ Trap to U.S.-China relations, he forgets Thucydides’ fundamental thesis—that the war was caused by two major elements and not just one: the rapid rise of Athens, and most importantly, the fear that Athens’ rise caused in Sparta.
Instead, Pool has assisted in sensationalizing China’s rise for the better part of three years, which may inadvertently on his part stoke a war. On March 23, 2021, Pool said the United States is “facing quite possibly the biggest threat we have ever faced…[a] rising and despotic authoritarian Chinese Communist Party.” In the same segment, he praised the Biden administration for imposing sanctions on China for claimed human rights abuses, saying “it’s about time we saw some action.”
The Uyghur Genocide Narrative
Of these human rights abuses, Pool often claims that the Chinese Communist Party has imprisoned more than one million ethic Uyghurs in concentration camps in an active “genocide” involving institutionalized rape, systematic involuntary sterilization, and organ harvesting on an industrial scale. According to Pool, the U.S. government is the only power that can stop these atrocities and should do something about it.
To support these claims, Pool has repeatedly interviewed the cast of “China Uncensored,” a show whose YouTube channel has garnered the better part of 2 million subscribers. However, a little digging reveals that China Uncensored is a subsidiary of New Tang Dynasty—a news outlet owned and operated by a rabidly anti-China flying saucer cult named Falun Gong. The group’s charismatic leader and founder, Li Hongzhi, has stated he can levitate, walk through walls, “use [his] mind to direct and order things to happen,” and that “aliens have begun to invade the human mind and its ideology and culture.” In their belief system, Falun Gong practitioners receive the benefits of good health by having “Fa” energy implanted in their abdomen.
Falun Gong was expelled from China in 1999. Shortly thereafter, Li Hongzhi fled to a 400-acre compound in upstate New York where he established Falun Gong’s international headquarters. Members of the group own and operate New Tang Dynasty and another large media outlet, the Epoch Times, where they receive direct orders from Li Hongzhi himself.
Although the cast of China Uncensored repeatedly mentioned Falun Gong on Timcast IRL, Pool may not know about the connections between China Uncensored, New Tang Dynasty, and the fringe religious organization.
Many of the claims Pool makes regarding the alleged genocide of the Uyghurs have been addressed more fully elsewhere. They often rely on sources linked to U.S. intelligence, including Radio Free Asia and the World Uyghur Congress, and utilize testimony from Chinese defectors sourced by these organizations who constantly change their stories.
Other sources cited to support the Uyghur genocide narrative include defense industry thinks tanks such as the Australian Stategic Policy Institute, the Newlines Institute, the Jamestown Foundation, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation—a notorious Cold War agit-prop organization co-founded by avowed regime change architect Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Even the above organizations have avoided claims that Uyghurs are being mass murdered by the CCP outright. Without evidence to support the extermination narrative, these special interests attempted to prove the Chinese government was preventing the births of Uyghurs in a “demographic genocide.” By 2022, after nearly every western-alligned news outlet published, as fact, a fraudulent study purporting to prove demographic genocide, this narrative too was mostly abandoned.
For those claiming genocide, it did not and does not help that the Uyghur population is growing and not shrinking. As for the study itself, it turns out all changes in the Uyghur birth rates can be explained by a shifting one-child policy—which until July 2017 applied to Han Chinese, but not Uyghurs—and improved access to family planning.
These allegations were embraced by the Biden administration, which then doubled down on targeted economic sanctions with the “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act” (UFLPA), legislation that took effect on June 21, 2022. The Act created a rebuttable presumption that all goods “mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in Xinjiang or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List are prohibited from U.S. importation” under federal law. These accusations of forced labor stem from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Washington-DC based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Tim Pool praised these sanctions in the above-cited March 23, 2021 segment. The penalties have the effect of suppressing all industry in Xinjiang, regardless of its impact on average citizens.
Further crucial context omitted by Pool and his guests is that nationalist Uyghur terrorism has plagued Xinjiang for decades. As noted by Chris Zambelis of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, “Since the 1990s, Beijing has implicated a number of Uyghur organizations in terrorism, including bombings, arson attacks, assassinations, and abductions in Xinjiang and other parts of China” the largest of which, the Urumqi Riots, resulted in the deaths of approximately 197+ people, mostly Han Chinese.
Because of this history of terrorism, the CCP does “deradicalize” Uyghurs it suspects of extremism. As a part of this campaign, many Uyghurs do appear to be unjustly and arbitrarily detained in jail-like facilities. If the CCP is to be believed, the detainees are taught vocational skills and are assimilated into Han culture before being released. According to UN documents, the average period of detention lasts around 2-18 months. Despite claims by the media and special interest groups, it is impossible to know to any degree of certainty the number of Uyghurs detained, their actual length of detainment, the conditions of the camps, and their treatment.
In June 2022, an unnamed source leaked ostensible CCP documents to the defense think tanks’ named “China expert” Adrian Zenz—the author of the aforementioned fraudulent report—and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. These documents purport to prove “crimes against humanity” by evidencing repressive Uyghur policies. They ostensibly consist of internal speeches by CCP officials, training procedures for jail staff, and thousands of pictures of detainees. Ironically, the facilities’ procedures were not much more barbaric than what you’d find in any American county jail or prison, much less in Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. infamously detained and tortured Uyghur terrorists. Indeed, when it comes to counterterrorism operations, the CCP originally modeled its behavior after ours.
More recently, when the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a highly politicized report on the conditions in Xinjiang, it declined to make any concrete findings. Nonetheless, its inconclusive remarks cited the same special interest groups behind the original Uyghur abuse claims to say “crimes against humanity” may be occurring. Much like the earlier reports, eyewitness interviews were not subject to cross examination, were conducted remotely, were not evaluated by a fact-finding body, and were not made under threat of perjury. Neither was the investigation’s witness methodology provided. We have no idea who the alleged witnesses are, how they were selected, who selected them, who they are associated with, or where they are currently located.
As is every ruthless “anti-terror” terror campaign, China’s mistreatment of its Uyghur population is condemnable. However, there is little to no credible evidence of genocide, demographic or otherwise. There is also little credible evidence of institutionalized rape and organ harvesting (the latter claim always originated from Falun Gong). The evidence that does exist is largely sourced by special interest groups funded by U.S. intelligence agencies and western defense think tanks.
Moreover, the CIA is long rumored to have recruited and trained Uyghur Muslims for clandestine operations throughout the Middle East. In interviews with Libertarian Institute director Scott Horton in November 2008 and April 2009, journalist Eric Margolis said he witnessed Uyghur Muslims being trained in Afghanistan by Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani ISI, with the knowledge and support of the CIA for the purpose of destabilizing China.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to George W. Bush’s Secretary of State Colin Powell, claimed in a 2018 speech that up to 20,000 Chinese Uyghurs had fought on the side of al-Qaeda in Idlib, Syria. Several Chinese authorities believe these Uyghur forces were invited there by Turkey, a NATO ally.
In the same 2018 speech, Col. Wilkerson speculated about what a coherent US strategy in Afghanistan might look like, saying it would have three major components. The first would be to station hard military power in an extraordinarily inaccessible region of the world—an area located near the center of China’s land-based Belt and Road Initiative. The second would be to maintain armed forces next to what is potentially the world’s most unstable nuclear stockpile in Pakistan.
Thirdly, Wilkerson suggested keeping a military force in position to protect CIA operations in Xinjiang Province, in the event a hot war ever broke out. Many of the 12-13 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang already dislike the Han Chinese, ethnic tensions the CIA could potentially exploit to destabilize the region from within.
When revisiting the subject in an April 2, 2021 interview, Wilkerson said this process may already be underway. According to official sources, Uyghurs who fought on the side of al-Qaeda in Syria are returning to Xinjiang. Some have already arrived. China is reportedly very concerned, as these are trained and experienced jihadist terrorists, at least in its eyes. There are unconfirmed rumors that Turkey and the United States may be aiding Uyghur jihadists through Afghanistan and into Xinjiang. Col. Wilkerson ominously concluded that those Islamist fighters are not headed back home to “bake cake.”
Ultimately, the State Department’s support for the Uyghur diaspora has more to do with sabotaging China’s international credibility and domestic stability than it does humanitarian concern for the Uyghur people.
Why must Tim Pool and his audience consider the above counterfactuals?
The answer is simple. Aside from Taiwanese independence, the Uyghur genocide narrative lends moral credibility to any future military action against China, much like stories of “weapons of mass destruction,” “incubator babies,” and “babies on bayonets” did in past conflicts elsewhere in the world. Its scrutiny is exponentially important as America stumbles toward hot war with the PRC.
As Americans, we cannot say with any degree of certainty what is going on in Xinjiang. Even if we could, there is nothing our government can do about it that will not make the problem significantly worse for all parties involved.
China’s Influence Abroad
Tim Pool often argues that the CCP is encouraging world governments to be more authoritarian by exerting its growing economic power over them. Pool’s analysis, however, takes for granted the success of its dubious, centrally-planned projects.
For starters, the PRC is communist in name only. Economically, China is no more socialist than any western county. In 1999, the late Justin Raimondo described the complete reversal of Chinese communism during the reforms of Deng Xiaoping:
Since the death of Mao, in 1979, and the ascension of Deng Xiaoping as China’s new “great helmsman,” China has shed Marxist orthodoxy in all but the formal sense. Far from promoting Marxist ideology, or serving as the center of a revived worldwide Commie Conspiracy, the Chinese Communist Party is presiding over the largest-scale destatization process ever attempted: in “constructing socialism with Chinese characteristics,” as they put it, the heirs of Mao and the Long March are systematically dismantling the economic foundations of socialism. Selling off state industries, not only allowing but actively soliciting foreign investment, privatizing land, cutting back on the military, setting up Special Economic Zones in which the deadening hand of the Party and the bureaucracy is stayed and the market allowed to flourish virtually unhampered – these and a host of other radical measures have effectively abolished the economic dictatorship of the Party and the State. The dour spirit of Maoist egalitarianism, which exhorted China to “put politics in command,” has given way to a new form of “socialism” summed up by Deng in a famous maxim: “To get rich is glorious!”
Despite the free market triumph of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” it is the policies that depart from this successful approach that Pool appears most concerned with. For instance, Pool often cites the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s “predatory lending practices” against other sovereign nations.
The main policy that Tim Pool cites, the BRI, is a massive centrally-planned project that seeks to build an economic corridor from East Asia to Western Europe and Africa through the Middle East via “land and maritime networks.”
The project suffers from the hubris of any giant government project. Without the profit/loss motive, the CCP has no incentive to insure a return on investments—investments it paid for by wildly inflating its currency.
Even the Western foreign policy establishment admits the BRI is “a mess” without any strategic objectives, that has “led to poorly conceived and managed projects…[and] substantial negative economic, political, social, and environmental consequences[.]”
As for Pool’s arguments about China’s predatory lending practices, the establishment outlet Foreign Policy had this to say:
Beijing is supposedly deliberately luring poor countries into unsustainable debts to finance infrastructure projects, enabling China to seize these assets when recipients experience debt distress, extending China’s strategic reach. As secretary of state, Rex Tillerson lambasted the BRI’s “predatory economics,” while Vice President Pence accuses Beijing of using debt-trap diplomacy in Sri Lanka to establish a “forward military base for China’s growing blue-water navy.”
As our report shows, this is simply untrue. This whole narrative misunderstands China and ignores the interests and agency of recipient countries.
As for the Sri Lankan case study, the report cited by Foreign Policy specifically concluded:
This chapter has disproven the debt-trap diplomacy claims surrounding Hambantota Port. China did not propose the port; the project was overwhelmingly driven by Sri Lankan actors for their own domestic purposes, with some input from a Chinese SOE acting for commercial reasons. Sri Lanka’s debt trap was thus primarily created as a result of domestic policy decisions and was facilitated by Western lending and monetary policy, and not by the policies of the Chinese government. China’s aid to Sri Lanka involved facilitating investment, not a debt-for-asset swap. The story of Hambantota Port is, in reality, a narrative of political and economic incompetence, facilitated by lax governance and inadequate risk management on both sides.
Avoiding Thucydides Trap
With tensions over Taiwan at their boiling point, Tim Pool, his audience, and all Americans must hear the uncomfortable truth about our relationship with China before it is too late.
The supposed China threat has been inflated by our own politicians as a scapegoat for poor domestic policy.
U.S. jobs were regulated to China by politicians here at home. CRT is being taught by American progressives on Tik Tok and in American universities, where the ideology originates. It is our “woke” military that has encircled China and is projecting force in their near-abroad.
Thucydides cited both the rapid rise of Athens, and the fear it caused in Sparta as the cause of the Peloponnesian War.
War with China would be a global catastrophe. Such a conflict would almost certainly involve Russia. It could quickly go nuclear—an escalation that would likely end the human race.
Even if the war remained conventional, tens, if not hundreds, of millions could die in grotesque and ruthless combat. Because of our economic interdependence, global standards of living would plummet. For most of the world, life would never be the same.
We must not allow that to occur.
That means not inflating—but rather—understanding China’s rise and putting it in its proper context.