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Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on Nomination of Terry Branstad to be U.S. Ambassador to China

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

Hearing: Nomination of Terry Branstad to be U.S. Ambassador to China 

April 2, 2017

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Opening Statement

Governor Branstad, it is a pleasure to welcome you here today as our nominee to be the next ambassador to China.

I am glad to see members of your family here today as well. I wish you all the best as you embark on this exciting new adventure.

Beijing is not Des Moines, but I know that your relationship with President Xi spans decades, and I’m confident that you fully understand the breadth and depth of the challenges awaiting you in China.

When we met in my office, I appreciated your honesty and candor about managing the complexities in relations with China, and I look forward to expanding on that conversation here today.  

As I have said previously, the U.S.-China relationship is one of the most consequential relationships for U.S. national interests.

The nature of relations between Washington and Beijing will have a profound impact on the security, prosperity and stability in the region for the coming years.

You will have a unique opportunity to help shape that relationship and move it in a direction that is beneficial for both countries.

But it certainly will be a difficult task, as U.S. relations with China have been trending in the wrong direction for several years.

China’s militarization of the South China Sea, cyber theft of intellectual property – which, again, I was at a meeting last night on this very topic. It’s just out right theft. Out right theft. And it’s something that has to end. The discriminatory trade and investment practices, in addition, are just a few of the areas of rising tension in the relationship between the United States and [China].

We can no longer afford to simply manage our differences with China as Beijing continues to challenge U.S. power and disregard international norms.  

However, we should always seek cooperation in areas where we can work together, including reducing the threat posed by North Korea.

I also believe that we must be clear-eyed about China’s long-term goals, which are not necessarily aligned with U.S. national interests.

Short-term gains should not come at the expense of long-term U.S. national interests, values, rule of law, international norms and our alliance commitments, which we have many in the region. 

We must be direct and willing to use our leverage when China challenges U.S. political, security and economic interests.

Governor Branstad, I look forward to hearing from you about your vision for relations with China and plans to serve as an effective advocate for U.S. national interests.

Again, thank you for being here.