March 17, 2021

Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Advancing Effective U.S. Policy for Strategic Competition with China in the Twenty-First Century

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave opening remarks at a committee hearing on advancing effective U.S. policy for strategic competition with China. The committee heard witness testimony from Dr. Elizabeth Economy, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Mr. Tom Shugart, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, and Mr. Saif Khan, research fellow at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following opening statement:

“First of all, let me pick up where you left off on the bipartisan nature of this effort. I think there’s no issue before this Congress that demands and commands bipartisan effort more than the issue we have in front of us.

“As you point out, a lot of us have introduced bills recently and in recent years addressing various parts of the China issue. It’s time to bring them all together, which is of course the effort that we’re undertaking here.

“As most of us in recent years have recognized, strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China must be the United States’ number one foreign policy priority. The challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party are urgent and we must act accordingly.

“We must also maintain U.S. political will for the long haul, because these challenges will shape U.S. foreign policy and the international system for decades to come.

“Republicans and Democrats should work together to ensure that the U.S. and its government treats China as the top foreign policy priority and the Indo-Pacific as the priority region in terms of policy, resourcing, and personnel.

“To support these goals, Congressional legislation must be truly bipartisan and driven by concrete and actionable steps that directly address the biggest threats we face from the PRC. Today’s hearing will be important in shaping this committee’s efforts, including by providing us with valuable ideas on several aspects of competition with China: political, economic, military, and technological.

“One of the important aspects, or one of the important pieces of this puzzle as we go forward is we know that we have allies in the world who are anxious to join us in our quest. Europe of course is a natural partner, and I’m proud of a recent report that itemized things we can do with Europe. We’ve consulted with our European partners. I know the administration will do the same thing as we go forward.

“In addition to Europe, of course, we have other natural partners in the region that will join us in our efforts to do the things that we’re setting out to do here.

“Last week, I re-introduced the STRATEGIC Act with several of my colleagues, which includes proposals to put the United States on a stronger path to win this competition. The chairman and I have talked about this and about his bill. We’re going to work together to try to meld those together so we have a proposal that is truly bipartisan and meets all of our ideas as to how we address this challenge.

“First, the STRATEGIC bill challenges the unfair and illegal PRC economic practices that undermine U.S. businesses and the international economic system based on free-market growth. The STRATEGIC Act focuses in particular on increased oversight of Chinese company behavior in U.S. capital markets and Chinese state-sponsored intellectual property theft. We’re all aware of the many cases in which this has happened, and we’ve got to put an end to this.

“This legislation also addresses CCP malign influence in our media, universities, and even government. We must ensure that our society remains open and free, but also resilient and aware of the ways in which the CCP attempts to suppress, influence, or steal information within the United States. The STRATEGIC Act increases transparency around Chinese government funding of our universities and government-sponsored trips for U.S. government officials.

“Next, this act confronts the threat of a modernized and growing Chinese military. Its rapid expansion and modernization is shifting the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific. The PLA is also becoming more active in other regions such as the Indian Ocean, Africa, and even the Western Hemisphere.

“The CCP plans to use its military to dominate the waters inside the first island chain, and project power beyond. It has strengthened its ability to coerce Taiwan to unify with the mainland, and to bully its neighbors into accepting its excessive maritime claims. Such actions would be devastating to U.S. and allied interests in this vital region. We must ensure that the United States and its allies are appropriately resourced to meet this military challenge.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my concern about comments by unidentified administration officials in the media yesterday about Taiwan. Beijing’s increased coercion and attempts to isolate Taiwan are the reason we are seeing increased tensions – not engagement with Taiwan by the United States.

“I’m especially disappointed to see comments like this right before U.S.-China discussions in Alaska this week. The administration should clarify these statements if indeed they are truly of the administration’s position since it’s always hard to tell when the media cites unidentified officials. Having said that, it’s important that since those statements are out there that the administration speak to those.

“Finally, the STRATEGIC Act holds the CCP accountable for its appalling human rights abuses, including its ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, egregious human rights abuses in Tibet, and its obliteration of the individual rights promised to the people of Hong Kong. Oftentimes, the CCP uses new technologies to carry out these abuses. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to these human rights abuses. No truly great power undermines its own citizens, and the CCP must be held accountable for its conduct.

“These are just some of the most pressing and important threats we face from the PRC, and I look forward to hearing from the witnesses on these important issues. I also look forward to working with my Democratic colleagues to address this evolving challenge in an actionable, bipartisan manner. I believe that the chairman and I will continue to work in good faith and in a bipartisan manner to bring these matters before our committee, eventually reaching a bipartisan solution and action to address these matters.

 “So thank you, Senator Menendez. With that, I yield back.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov.

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