September 23, 2020

ICYMI: Chairman Risch Discusses Transatlantic Alliance and China at CEPA Forum

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday gave virtual remarks during the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) Forum in which he discussed the transatlantic alliance and the shared threat that China poses to the United States and Europe.

Highlights:

On the transatlantic alliance and the shared threat of China:

“Together, the United States and Europe helped create an open system of rules, norms, and institutions that upholds individual rights and freedoms, advances market-based economic prosperity, and safeguards shared security interests. Despite some differences, we have enjoyed enormous success in fostering that system. Indeed most of the world – including China – has prospered under this very system.

“Today, there is a need for the United States and Europe to cooperate in addressing the challenges posed by China. Both sides of the Atlantic recognize China is a global power; not a developing country. As we look forward, it is China that will become the greatest threat to the transatlantic alliance.”

On China’s economic coercion:

“China is our economic competitor, and this competition must be legitimate. We must demand greater reciprocity and China’s adherence to the rule of law and international norms, which it signed up for when it joined the WTO and other international agreements.

“Unfortunately, China’s vision is vastly different: the rights of the individual are subordinate to the interests of the state; economic coercion for political ends is a legitimate form of statecraft; and might makes right on the high seas and in contract negotiations.

“This is our shared challenge.”

On the STRATEGIC Act and enhancing collaboration between allies:

“In July, I introduced legislation entitled the Strengthening Trade, Regional Alliances, Technology, and Economic and Geopolitical Initiatives Concerning China Act, or, the STRATEGIC Act. It is a comprehensive approach to China with concrete policies in several key areas of the competition. Every aspect of this legislation highlights the importance of collaboration between the United States and its allies. None is more important than the transatlantic cooperation between allies.”

On renewing the mutual commitment to the transatlantic alliance:

“Transatlantic security and prosperity requires that we continuously renew our commitment to each other and pledge to use all of our combined tools to succeed. I am confident that the United States and Europe can overcome some of our current differences and find a shared vision to defend the system we built together.”

Chairman Risch’s full remarks are below:

“Hello, I’m U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It’s an honor to join all of you today, and I look forward to the day, soon I hope, when we can all be together again in person.

“There is never a shortage of issues to cover in the transatlantic relationship. Whether it’s Belarus, Ukraine, Nord Stream 2, or malign influence in our societies and elections; it seems there is always some challenge created by Russia for us to confront. There is, however, another actor that is creating new challenges for our alliance. 

“But before I get into that, I want to talk about the transatlantic relationship on its own merits. Fostering stronger U.S. and European ties has been a priority of mine during my nearly 12 years in the Senate.

“First, I’m a strong supporter of NATO, the greatest political-military alliance in history. As nations with authoritarian ideologies and imperial tendencies increasingly look to grow their power and influence on the world stage, we remain committed to the original pledge made by all NATO allies – to “safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of its peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.” These shared values are what have helped build a strong and enduring transatlantic relationship, whether countries are NATO and EU members or not.

“Together, the United States and Europe helped create an open system of rules, norms, and institutions that upholds individual rights and freedoms, advances market-based economic prosperity, and safeguards shared security interests. Despite some differences, we have enjoyed enormous success in fostering that system. Indeed most of the world – including China – has prospered under this very system.

“Today, there is a need for the United States and Europe to cooperate in addressing the challenges posed by China. Both sides of the Atlantic recognize China is a global power; not a developing country. As we look forward, it is China that will become the greatest threat to the transatlantic alliance.

“China is our economic competitor, and this competition must be legitimate. We must demand greater reciprocity and China’s adherence to the rule of law and international norms, which it signed up for when it joined the WTO and other international agreements.

“Unfortunately, China’s vision is vastly different: the rights of the individual are subordinate to the interests of the state; economic coercion for political ends is a legitimate form of statecraft; and might makes right on the high seas and in contract negotiations.

“This is our shared challenge.

“The European Union is correct to label China as a “systemic rival.” And leaders around the world have made clear that China must abide by its commitments and support an international system that is free, fair, and open. If China embraces these principles and truly wants to be a global leader in the 21st century, China will find a United States ready to cooperate.

“But until China pursues that path, the United States and Europe must be prepared to safeguard our shared interests. We must do so with vigor, and we must do so together.

“We are making some progress. The United States and the European Union have both improved our screening of foreign direct investment. We’ve combined forces to expose the Chinese government’s horrifying repression of the Uyghurs. And the U.S. and EU have recently agreed to start a dialogue on China-related issues.

“These actions are an important start, but the challenges of China, which are many and widespread, require a sustained commitment. Together, we must ensure that the free international system we built together can withstand outside pressures. Without that, there certainly will be a collapse. It’s absolutely important that we stay together on this.

“In July, I introduced legislation entitled the Strengthening Trade, Regional Alliances, Technology, and Economic and Geopolitical Initiatives Concerning China Act, or, the STRATEGIC Act. It is a comprehensive approach to China with concrete policies in several key areas of the competition. Every aspect of this legislation highlights the importance of collaboration between the United States and its allies. None is more important than the transatlantic cooperation between allies.

“Addressing the challenges China poses will require balancing our long-term, shared interests with our current nuisances. And yes, I know there are some frustrations between the U.S. and Europe today; on everything from tariffs, to Iran, to defense spending.

“We have overcome our differences in the past. Committing to each other, to our collective security and common interests always has, and always should, override other issues. As China challenges us today, that same commitment must be paramount.

“We must work together to fend off China’s political influence and coercion. We must have a healthy awareness of the control exerted by the Communist Party.

“We need better coordination to shape the future of technology, and ensure a level playing field in industry groups that set standards and norms for emerging technologies. Chinese companies are playing a much more active role in these groups, and undermining our values at the same time. To protect freedom and human rights, the United States and Europe must be active in how new technologies will be used.

“Despite frictions, there is ample room for us to cooperate on trade issues. A major priority for the U.S. and for European partners is WTO reform, which we should all support.

“While the WTO remains crucial to a functioning international trading system, competing with China will require more than that.   We must consider other ways to defend ourselves from China’s economic malpractice, such as further cooperation on investment screening and better alignment on export controls to safeguard critical technologies.

“We should also work to secure and strengthen critical infrastructure – from energy grids to ports to undersea cables.

“China has already amassed enough economic and political might to coerce countries into deferring to China’s interests. We must build a collective resolve to defend the system we built by working together. We welcome all our European partners, no matter their membership in the EU or NATO.

“Transatlantic security and prosperity requires that we continuously renew our commitment to each other and pledge to use all of our combined tools to succeed. I am confident that the United States and Europe can overcome some of our current differences and find a shared vision to defend the system we built together.

“Thank you again for your kind invitation to share my thoughts and to be with you today.”

To watch these remarks on CEPA’s YouTube page, click here – the chairman’s remarks begin at the 4:38 minute mark.

To download these remarks, click here.

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