BRUSSELS, Belgium – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today spoke on a panel entitled “ Bridging the Transatlantic and Transpacific” during the German Marshall Fund’s 2022 Brussels Forum. Risch was joined on the panel by David McAllister, chair of the European Union Foreign Affairs Committee.
On addressing Russia and China at the same time:
“We all made a big mistake when the Iron Curtain came down. We all thought, ‘well, Russia now is going to take a deep breath and join the international community and do things the way civilized people do things.’… Who would have guessed that they were going to start a medieval war in the 21st century?”
“What [Russia is] doing [in Ukraine] is just absolutely atrocious and it certainly diverts our focus from the China issue… But, you have to take a deep breath and look at what China has done over the last few years, the last 10 years, the last three decades – look what they’ve done and then realize this is an existential challenge for us. It’s a challenge to the world, to the world order. They are a competitor… They infiltrate all aspects of societies in all parts of the world.”
On NATO’s new Strategic Concept:
“I’ve never seen the Europeans and the U.S. closer. That was a horrible mistake that Putin made – I’m certain that he believed an invasion of Ukraine would split NATO. That has done absolutely the opposite.”
“We’ve learned a lot about both China and Russia in recent decades, and [NATO needs] to adjust things in that regard. The challenge that has been referred to here, that China is getting into all aspects of life in all countries, is a huge deal. We have to respond to that. And, as has been pointed out, we always have to offer – we can’t just say no – we have to offer alternatives.”
“Dealing with those of us that come from free and democratic societies, where we don’t believe in corruption, we don’t believe in bribery, we value human rights really above all – for a lot of countries, this is a challenge. Particularly ones that lean more towards autocracy than democracy. That doesn’t mean it can be ignored – it’s got to be dealt with.”
On the United States and Europe confronting China together:
“We have to do this together… We have our squabbles as we’ve always had, and we’ll always have that – any kind of relationship always has squabbles… But those are de minimis compared to the overall confrontation between China and us.”
“There are some things that have happened in China which have underscored [the importance of addressing China] greatly. Not the least of which is the treatment of the Uyghurs. Look, that’s how they treat all their people. It just got on the front pages because you had this great mass of people that were pushing back… People were going, ‘what is this? How can this be happening in the 21st century?’ It’s happening. It’s real. And it’s China.”
Watch a video of the full panel here.