February 27, 2019

Chairman Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Assessing the Role of the U.S. in the World

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing on "Assessing the Role of the U.S. in the World." The committee heard testimony from former Ambassador William Burns and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. 

Chairman Risch delivered the following opening remarks:

"For the first time in a generation, the United States is facing a great power competition that threatens to disrupt the world order America created with our allies in the aftermath of World War II. That world order has arguably benefited all, especially those who believe in the principles of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, free trade and a capitalist free economy.

"These cornerstones of liberty and prosperity, however, are once again under assault as we face a global power competition, most notably by a rising China, intent on re-shaping the world in its own image, and a Russia that wants to be seen as more than a regional actor and regain the influence it enjoyed during the height of the Soviet Union.

"It is no secret that China seeks to surpass us both economically and militarily. One of the primary ways they have attempted to do this is by stealing our technology and intellectual property. The Chinese use American innovation to put our people out of work and stack the rules of the global economy in their favor. I have seen this firsthand, as Micron Technologies – an Idaho-based memory chip company – had its trade secrets stolen by a Chinese company, in an attempt to outcompete the very companies from which they steal.

"In order to compete on a global scale, there must be adherence to rule of law. Chinese law and practice allow the government total control over all of its companies. Whether or not Beijing is currently using tech firms like Huawei or ZTE to spy, it certainly could demand it and no court ruling or constitutional check is necessary. This is a serious threat to our national interests, and to the interests of our allies and friends.

"As to Russia, the Russian government is making efforts to return us to the 1960s, attempting to re-ignite a nuclear-arms race by cheating on nearly all of its arms-control agreements. In doing so, Putin is confirming over and over again what many of us already know and it is time to re-examine and reset our nuclear nonproliferation architecture and that must include China.

"While our strategic competition with China and Russia is a more recent development, the threats of the post-9/11 world remain. It is an accomplishment that today ISIS is on the ropes and al-Qaeda is in retreat. However, failed states, corruption, lack of economic opportunity, and political oppression are on the rise around the world.  

"According to Freedom House, global liberty declined in 2018 for the 13 th consecutive year. At a time when even our allies in Europe are facing homegrown challenges to democracy and the rule of law, the United States needs to stand firm against tyranny and corruption now more than ever.

"Ranking Member Menendez and I decided on holding this first hearing to provide the opportunity to set the agenda for the future work of the committee. The themes you will hear again and again from witnesses and senators on both sides of the dais – China, Russia, nuclear proliferation, counterterrorism, human rights, the rule of law – are subjects the committee intends to focus on intently in the coming months.

"This committee has a Constitutional role in shaping the nation’s foreign-policy agenda, and both the ranking member and I intend to exercise this authority provided to us by the Founding Fathers.

"With that, I will ask Ranking Member Menendez if he wishes to make any opening remarks."

Testimony from the witnesses is available on foreign.senate.gov, as is an archived recording of the full hearing. 

###