Miles Maochun Yu, 58, was born in Chongqing, China. In 1979, with the honor of the top scorer in the college entrance examination in Chongqing Yongchuan Middle School, he succeeded to enroll in Nankai University and took major in History. In the Wenqu Square of Yongchuan County, where his alma mater is located, there is a stela on which the names of the top scorers in the college entrance examination in the region are inscribed. Recently, Yu’s name has been eradicated from the stela. People of Shouxian County, Anhui Province, the hometown where he was born, are calling him a shame of the family clan. They recently decided to remove Yu from his family tree that is a book recording names of the family clan.
Miles Yu is currently the principal China policy and planning adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and as the key man of a “Chinese Team”, partnered with Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell for East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Yu is considered to be one of the few people who can decode Chinese political terminology, understanding much more China’s soft underbelly than those American “China experts”. He helps promote the great change of U.S. China policy not only from the academic perspective but also from policy practice.
In the deteriorating U.S.-China relations in recent years, Miles Yu is regarded as part of the powerful behind-the-scenes force within the U.S. government reshaping U.S. policies toward China, which has been redefined as America’s most significant strategic adversary. According to China’s political ethics, as a Chinese and an intellectual who was trained in the Chinese education system and sent abroad for further studies has changed to an anti-China pioneer and acted as an important state level adviser of the United States. This is an unacceptable behavior of a typical traitor, that should be punished. It is natural that his name disappeared from the stela in his old school. In China’s history, those people who were called traitors would usually be cleared out of their family clan.
The website “Think Hong Kong” released a photo of graduates of the Department of History of Nankai University in 1983. A man with glasses in the red circle looking young, childish, and slightly dull is Mile Yu.
Yu in the red circle
According to his former classmates at Nankai University, Yu’s academic record was not top-notch, and with competitive personality he was once a class monitor. Those who keep close to the Communist Party organizations and try to be recognized as politically reliable and have enthusiasm to work for students would eventually become student cadres. This is a political rule in Chinese schools.
In 1985, Miles Yu was sent to the United States for further studies sponsored by the Chinese government. After attending Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and earning a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994, he did not return to China, and instead took a position as a professor of modern China military history at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. At the University of California, Berkeley, the home base of neo-liberal believers, he hosted the China Forum, a lecture series that gave voice to key Chinese dissidents, including Harry Wu, Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan and some others.
Miles Yu and Harry Wu, the founder of the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF), were acquainted with each other at the University of California, Berkeley where they both worked and studied. Harry Wu used to be a guest professor of geology at Berkeley and wrote books and articles about his experience of Laogai (reform through labor) in China. Harry Wu resigned from Berkeley in 1992 and devoted himself to human rights activities. In the same year, he established the LRF to study China’s Laogai system and drew the attention of the American politicians to and criticize the system. LRF was mainly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Miles Yu then started to become a board member of the LRF.
In 2007, Yahoo Inc. commissioned Harry Wu to manage a US$17 million human rights fund aimed at assisting Chinese dissidents under the framework of the LRF. According to public financial records and court testimony, only US$1.2 million was used to fund the families of dissidents, and the rest of money was diverted by Harry Wu for other purposes. When Harry died unexpectedly in April 2016, only US$3 million was left on the accounts of the LRF. The whereabouts of the huge expenses are unknown, leading to widespread questioning. In 2015, the Internal Revenue Service of the U.S. fined the LRF of US$40,000 for financial irregularities. After Harry Wu’s death, Miles Yu was one of the receivers to administer the LRF. It is unclear whether he should be responsible for the whereabouts of the funds, and very few people know he was a director of the LRF.
Mile Yu was put in an important position by the Trump administration for China policy planning and implementation, giving people impression that the position of the white American “China experts” in the U.S. policy making circle has given way to the China-born advisers who understand China’s political characteristics and system. It is unusual in the U.S. government history to allow a scholar born and raised in Red China to play such an important role inner the core of foreign policy making circle.
Since Miles Yu began his political activities in the United States, the three presidents of Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all ignored Yu’s appeal that “the United States needs to change its China policy.” However, Donald Trump, representing the right-wing forces and determined to subvert American political traditions and rules of the game, played Yu and took Yu’s China policy thinking as a “master card” against China, focusing on sanctions on China in his four-year term. President Trump performs the “America First” approach in U.S. foreign policy, even in despite of offending traditional Western allies.
There is a gimmick of “playing one barbarian state against another” in the ancient Chinese offensive tactics, which means using foreign opposition to deal with foreign forces in order to weaken the opponent’s power. Since the foreign opposition knows enough about their cognations, they can effectively attack their weakness and it works quickly. Yu’s role is acting as a strategic adviser for an offensive. He is not the only one, there are other Chinese advisers serving the State Department for policy ideas about China. However, there is still doubt whether the influence and final effects made from these “China team” members will benefit the U.S. or not in the long run during the U.S.-China conflicts.
Upon Yu’s advice, the United States began to interpret the terms “win-win” and “mutual benefit” used by China as “meaningless clichés.” Secretary of State Pompeo spoke highly of his “principled realism”. Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell regarded Yu as a “national treasure” of the United States, and Deputy National Security Adviser Pottinger praised Yu as a clear-eyed expert on the U.S.-China-USSR dynamic. The Washington Times stated that Yu “has now emerged as one of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s most influential advisers on U.S.-Sino relations”.
In China, however, Miles Yu is lashed out. To paraphrase the popular Chinese saying, Yu’s is a typical case of “eating the party’s food and breaking the party’s pot”. What his college classmates talked the most in the WeChat group is, “in the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Yu is nothing but a mantis.” This is a Chinese idiom, meaning that it is unhelpful for a mantis trying to stop a chariot. Some think it is a shame that the big traitor is from Nankai University. But some admit that Yu deserves to be a prominent alumni who succeeded to become one of the core staff of the world’s most influential U.S. government with his Chinese face and on his own efforts.
There is yet a “conspiracy theory”: some Chinese who know Yu revealed that Yu’s parents are members of the Communist Party of China and both work for CCP. Yu himself also applied for CCP membership when in college. After graduating from the Nankai University, he was sponsored by the Chinese government for further studies in the U.S., so he must have passed the political censorship, and had his political reliability checked. After completing his education in the U.S., he immediately entered the political world by joining the Chinese democratic movement groups in the United States, but he never attempt to be membership of their parties. Then after failing to penetrate to the previous governments, he finally managed to work with the Trump administration at the decision-making level. Judging from the outcome of the U.S. policy toward China, apparently, Yu was very tough on China and subverted the benefit China has long enjoyed in the U.S.-Sino relations, in fact, it has also greatly hurt the interest of the United States. As a result of the U.S.-China trade war, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. has further expanded, and the U.S. has obscurely lost the war. Although the U.S.’s technology war with China has a huge impact on Huawei’s development, it has not stunted the growth of Huawei’s 5G and other artificial intelligence progress. Instead, other technology companies of China have grown rapidly. The policy of weaponization of chips has forced China to devote all efforts to develop the semiconductor industry chain. The semiconductor industry in the U.S. is suffering a huge loss of orders and a serious product backlog, which has harmed its expansion and investment in new technologies. The business shrinkage in the next few years will be seen. Amid the U.S.-China science and technology war, the European science and technology community, which is also squeezed out by the United States, is accelerating the pace of cooperation with China. A “de-Americanized” technology and industry chain is being built, and the United States will face more isolated situation in the future.
China’s history shows that once the nation’s efforts are fully mobilized to develop certain industry, it will surely be successful in a short period of time, and breakthroughs in chip technology will free China from its dependence on American technology. The Chinese government has vowed that by 2025, the self-sufficiency rate of chips will reach 75%. American semiconductor companies will lose the huge Chinese market. Lack of orders for American technology companies will be worsened and their technological advantages will be gone. Yu should be aware of this prospect. The advice given by Miles Yu, a man with a red background in China, may be a “bad idea.”
Based on the logic of this “conspiracy theory,” Yu may be a chess piece and a disturber of the CCP. His proposal was packaged to cater to the right-wing conservatism of the Trump administration, spoiling the foreign policies without insiders’ suspicion. An article in the U.S. “Congress Report” pointed out that over the past 20 years, the international achievements of the United States have drastically decreased, and it became more obvious during the Trump administration. This has nothing to do with China’s development. The best explanation for the decline in American influence is its own arrogance, overconfidence, over-expansion, failure, and retreat, which have weakened the American power.
Based on the “principled realism” advocated by Pompeo, American leaders need to regard the interests of the U.S. and the rest of the world as one, by adopting prudent policies, and pursuing practical goals.