“[If] China’s long bitcoin, perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works.” “I do wonder whether at this point, bitcoin should also be thought [of] in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S.,” Thiel said at a virtual event held for members of the Richard Nixon Foundation. “It threatens fiat money, but it especially threatens the U.S. dollar.
Thiel was joined by former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and former national security advisor Robert O’Brien. The conversation between Thiel, who has frequently criticized U.S. companies that do business with Beijing, and two hawkish former members of the Trump administration was largely focused on U.S.-China relations. It was moderated by Hugh Hewitt, the talk radio host and chief executive of the Nixon Foundation. Forbes previously reported some details of the event. Thiel, who left Silicon Valley in dramatic fashion in 2018, complaining that it had become a “one-party state,” didn’t confine himself to criticizing Google. He suggested that the U.S. scrutiny of American tech companies should also include Apple Inc., noting that the company makes most of its devices in China, where labor standards are more lax than in the U.S. and Europe.
China has denied mistreatment of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, and Google has said it doesn’t work with the Chinese military. “Apple is probably the one [tech company] that’s structurally a real problem” for U.S. interests, he said. “Apple is the one that has real synergies with China.”
“You have this almost magical thinking that by pretending that everything is fine, that’s how you engage and have a conversation,” he said. During the talk, Thiel expanded upon previous criticism of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which he accused of working against U.S. interests in a 2019 speech. On Tuesday, he added that he’d pressed employees in the company’s artificial intelligence division about whether their technology was being used in China’s Xinjiang region, where the U.S. says the country has detained ethnic Uyghurs in camps, which some U.S. officials have said amounts to genocide. The answer, Thiel said, was, “Well, we don’t really know — and don’t ask any questions.”
“I don’t think it was like a tremendous, tremendous loss” in India, he said. Thiel also suggested that the U.S. should follow India in banning TikTok, the social app owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., and which he called “this sort of incredible exfiltration of data about people.” Thiel noted that if it were banned, TikTok would probably be replaced by similar apps, as has happened in India.
Thiel also criticized Facebook — along with other tech companies — for “de-platforming President Trump,” a reference to the company’s decision to ban Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. “There were more employees at Facebook who were born in China than who were born in Hong Kong,” he said. “And the Chinese nationals actually said that, you know, it was just Western arrogance, and [the company] shouldn’t be taking Hong Kong’s side.… And the rest of the employees at Facebook sort of stayed out of it.” The TikTok comments dovetail with messaging from Facebook Inc., where Thiel sits on the board of directors. Facebook has portrayed TikTok as a threat to U.S. values. But Thiel also criticized Facebook itself for nurturing what he called “woke politics,” noting that the company had declined to take a firm stand on protests in Hong Kong last year.
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- Peter Thiel calls bitcoin a ‘Chinese financial weapon’
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