Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing on "A New Approach for an Era of U.S.-China Competition." The committee heard testimony from the Honorable Jim Talent, a former U.S. senator and current commissioner of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, and Dr. Oriana Mastro, Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.
Chairman Risch delivered the following opening remarks:
"After 20 years of helping China prosper economically, and hoping they would emerge as a responsible partner on the world stage, it is time for U.S. policy makers to acknowledge this path was not the right path. But, of course we have the benefit of hindsight now that we did not have when we started on this journey.
"Today, China steals our intellectual property and uses it to put our people out of work, it intimidates its neighbors - including close U.S. allies - while increasing its military capabilities in the South and East China Seas. China exports corruption and its authoritarian model across the globe. It uses cheap financing as a debt trap, and has built a police state that the Chinese Communist Party uses to limit free expression that contradicts the Party line.
"These are not the actions of a responsible stakeholder. Rather it proves the assumption that as China continued to rise, it would begin to mature into a responsible international actor was and is wrong.
"It is clear, the Chinese Communist Party does not share the same values that the United States and our partners share. To them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness aren’t aspirations to deliver to their people, but values the communist party should fear and control.
"As we enter a new era of relations with China we must be clear-eyed and honest about the challenges ahead. China is seeking to be the preeminent power in Asia, but its ambitions are broader. It is building naval bases in Africa, stealing the intellectual property of western companies, subsidizing its companies overseas to gain economic and political leverage, and threatening military conflict with its neighbors.
"Given Chinese behavior over the past several years – economic, political, and military – some now believe conflict is inevitable. I don’t think it is, at least not yet. But the relationship must be rebalanced in order to avoid future conflict and provide a sustainable way forward for both countries.
"The Trump administration has forced a new conversation on what the relationship will look like moving forward. Its trade policies show Beijing that business-as-usual is over. We won’t stand for our ideas and technologies being stolen and we won’t stand for our people losing their jobs to unfair competition.
"The best example of this type of behavior comes from my home state of Idaho. Micron Technology, one of the largest producers of semiconductors in the world has had their intellectual property stolen by a Chinese company, patented in China, and then used to sue Micron in Chinese Courts directed by the Chinese Government. To its credit, the Trump administration imposed sanctions for this action, and brought criminal charges against those responsible.
"But economics isn’t the whole ball game. Chinese foreign policy is increasingly aggressive and Chinese military activity in the region is on the rise. They have created and armed artificial outposts in the South China Sea, illegally claimed annexation of nearly the entire Sea and claimed territorial waters from sovereign countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
"As a side note-it is important to note that China and its victims in its maritime misadventures are all members of the Law of the Sea Treaty, which has been useless against China in this conflict.
"If China is allowed to control the Western Pacific it would present a major challenge to the free movement of goods across the globe, potentially allowing Beijing to hold the international trade system hostage.
"The territorial issues in the South and East China Seas need to be resolved according to internationally recognized norms, and we need to support all countries that wish to use and abide by this process.
"Let’s be clear, China has no allies, only transactional partners and states too weak to push back. The strength of the United States is found in our alliances and partnerships. These partnerships are critical to protecting international laws and norms, and pushing back on Chinese coercion and economic leverage around the world.
"Domestically, if a Chinese citizen wants to prosper, the Communist party requires them to surrender to the surveillance state and the party line. To those who refuse, they are the subject of immense suppression tactics, such as imprisonment and forced disappearances of political prisoners.
"To whole groups that the Communist party opposes, such as the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, the solution is even more simple: send them to “re-education” camps. It is hard for China to be a responsible world actor if it violates the most basic human rights of its own people. Unfortunately, the Communist party also does not realize that diversity actually encourages innovation and prosperity. U.S. policy must defend those who struggle for freedom.
"But it is not all lost…yet. I believe there is still time to rebalance our relations and address the foundational problems impacting our relationship like the rule of law and trade that is free and fair. The Trump administration has already engaged this process, but more needs to be done.
"My hope is that China will take the opportunities at hand, and itself change its own policies and commit to working with the rest of the world in order that all benefit and prosper under the rule of law, human rights, restrained military activity, and economic action that is free, fair, and absent corruption."
Testimony from the witnesses is available on foreign.senate.gov, as is an archived recording of the full hearing.