February 03, 2021

ICYMI: Chairman Risch Discusses U.S. Strategy on China at FIU State of the World 2021 Conference

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave virtual opening remarks for a panel on China, Hong Kong, and Democracy during Florida International University’s State of the World 2021 conference.

02-03-21 Chairman Risch - FIU Remarks

Highlights:

On the importance of the competition with China:

“It is clear, China has become a strategic global competitor of the United States, and a challenge to other democracies that value individual rights and freedoms, market-based economic prosperity, and peace and security. This is, and will be, our greatest foreign policy challenge for years to come. Rising to this challenge is now a sprint and a marathon: we must view it with greater urgency, but we also must sustain our political will over the long term.”

On backing up U.S. alliances with action:

“Going forward, when it comes to our alliances, our words are not enough: they must be backed by credible extended deterrence with continued emphasis on defense cooperation. Failure to modernize U.S. nuclear forces, deep defense cuts, and similar policies will create major risks to vital U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region.”

On the strategic importance of Taiwan:

“Taiwan is not only a model of democracy that deserves to chart its future without threats and coercion. Its geography is also key to the security of other U.S. allies, and its technology is critical to global competition with China. Taiwan is one of the most strategic issues we face in this decade, and that must remain a key priority.”

Chairman Risch’s full remarks are below:

“Hi, I’m Senator Jim Risch. Thank you for inviting me to provide remarks for today’s panel on the Chinese Communist Party and the challenge it presents to the United States and to the world.

“Many of us were already worried about the CCP’s trajectory before this past year, and rightfully so. However, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic made two things about the CCP crystal clear.

“First, there is no limit to its willingness to put the Party’s standing ahead of the common good – even at the expense of global public health. Second, it has no qualms about exploiting a global crisis to advance its own foreign policy interests. 

“Over the past 12 months, the CCP has tried to cover up the origin of the COVID pandemic, violated its treaty obligations in Hong Kong, doubled down on genocide in Xinjiang, accelerated coercion in the South China Sea, escalated border tensions with India, and increased political and military pressure on Taiwan.

“It is clear, China has become a strategic global competitor of the United States, and a challenge to other democracies that value individual rights and freedoms, market-based economic prosperity, and peace and security. This is, and will be, our greatest foreign policy challenge for years to come. Rising to this challenge is now a sprint and a marathon: we must view it with greater urgency, but we also must sustain our political will over the long term.

“Confronting China is an American issue. And we should all commit to finding bipartisan solutions that have the support of the American people. Last year, I introduced my own legislation with concrete policies in every aspect of the competition with China: economics, technology, defense and security, and malign influence in the United States and international organizations.

“I also published a report with a detailed agenda for the United States and Europe to cooperate on China issues. These proposals will guide my collaboration with Senate colleagues, the Biden Administration, and of course, U.S. allies and partners both in the Indo-Pacific and Europe.

“As a new administration begins, there are a few things I think we need to pay attention to. These are areas where I expect the new administration to consult closely with Congress.

“First, the Biden Administration has emphasized the need to cooperate with Beijing in certain areas. I understand that: my own China legislation includes provisions to work with Beijing on issues like arms control and wildlife trafficking. However, the CCP’s record of aggression, suppression, and broken commitments should give the United States pause before rushing into signing agreements and pursuing expansive cooperative initiatives. In particular, it is imperative that the entire Biden Administration commit that it will not trade away other U.S. interests in order to secure a climate deal with Beijing.

“Next, I support deepening and expanding alliances in the coming years, as the new administration does. Despite what some say about the Trump Administration, there is a lot for the Biden team to build on in the Indo-Pacific: a strong and modernized U.S.-Japan alliance; deep defense ties with India; a revitalized Quad; and concrete economic cooperation in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

“Going forward, when it comes to our alliances, our words are not enough: they must be backed by credible extended deterrence with continued emphasis on defense cooperation. Failure to modernize U.S. nuclear forces, deep defense cuts, and similar policies will create major risks to vital U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Economically, we must continue to use the combined tools of the United States and partners like Japan and Australia to advance market-based prosperity.

“Finally, we have Taiwan. What has happened in Hong Kong makes the question of Taiwan’s future all the more urgent and serious. The military balance of power is shifting: this is eroding conventional deterrence, putting the U.S. military, as well as our allies and partners, at risk. Taiwan is not only a model of democracy that deserves to chart its future without threats and coercion. Its geography is also key to the security of other U.S. allies, and its technology is critical to global competition with China. Taiwan is one of the most strategic issues we face in this decade, and that must remain a key priority.

“Let me be clear. We all know the problems we have with China. Both the executive branch and Congress have taken important steps on everything from human rights to capital markets, to U.S. defense posture in the Indo-Pacific. China is moving too quickly for us to form more working groups and commissions. We need concrete action to continue that momentum.

“Success will require lawmakers, executive leaders, allies, and partners to make a sustained commitment to work together and defend our interests for decades to come. By doing so, we will be able to continue living in a world of resilient and prosperous countries committed to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

“In closing, I again appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. And I look forward to continued engagement on these important issues in the weeks and months ahead.

“Thank you so much.”

To watch these remarks on YouTube, click here.

To download the video of these remarks, click here.

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