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VIDEO: Rubio Chairs China Commission Hearing on Beijing’s Exporting of Authoritarianism

Dec 13, 2017 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair and cochair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), today convened a hearing entitled “The Long Arm of China: Exporting Authoritarianism With Chinese Characteristics.”
Earlier today, Rubio explained how the U.S. and Asian democracies can counter China’s increasingly assertive rise. Rubio recently warned of Beijing’s efforts to influence American public policy and basic freedoms. In October, Rubio and Smith released the CECC’s 2017 annual report on human rights and the rule of the law in China.
Rubio’s remarks can be watched here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.
Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Washington, D.C.
December 13, 2017
We hope today to take a step back from individual accounts regarding China’s long arm and examine the broader issue of Chinese Communist Party’s influence around the world. What animates their efforts? What is their ultimate aim? What sectors or institutions are most vulnerable to this and what can we do about it? Given the scope of this issue, we’ll only begin to scratch the surface here today.
When examining these foreign influence operations it’s important we understand the Communist Party infrastructure that exists to support this endeavor. The United Front Work Department is one of the Party agencies in charge of influence operations at home and abroad. The Chinese president elevated this entity’s status in 2014, calling their work the ‘magic weapon’ for the ‘Chinese people’s great rejuvenation.’ The UFWD is charged with promoting a positive view of China abroad and exporting the purported benefits of this authoritarian model. United Front officials and their agents, often operating under diplomatic cover as members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they develop relationships with politicians at both the state, local and federal level and other high-profile or up-and-coming foreign and overseas Chinese individuals to, in the words of Wilson Center Global fellow Ann Marie Brady, ‘influence, subvert, and if necessary bypass the policies of their governments and promote the interests of the CCP globally.’

Each year, the Commission releases an Annual Report which painstakingly documents human rights and rule of law developments in China.  China’s Great Firewall, rights violations in ethnic minority regions, harassment of rights defenders and lawyers, suppression of free speech, onerous restrictions on civil society—these are the shameful markings of an authoritarian, one-party state. But to the extent that the same authoritarian impulses animate the Chinese government’s efforts abroad, it directly threatens our most deeply held values and our national interests. Chinese leaders are engaged in the long game and it is something that policymakers in the U.S. and like-minded allies must take seriously.

The reaction to today’s hearing will be one of two things. Number one, largely ignored. Or number two, the argument that we’re paranoid, that this is paranoia, this is ridiculous, this is not at all what’s happening. And of course that furthers the narrative the Chinese Communist Party is always putting out. That now ‘we’re just a small, poor country trying to just catch up to where you are. We’re not in any way a threat to you.’ But, the first part of the ignoring really bothers me because there will be a lot of coverage today about whatever the president or someone else tweeted this morning. Meanwhile, this extraordinary geo-political issue that has incredible historical importance [what] of a way that people will write and talk about for a century is happening right underneath us, and very few people realize it. And those who do would rather talk about whatever the outrage of the day is. I don’t even know I haven’t gone online to see what it is.
And the last point – I always make this in these hearings – I want to be abundantly clear: this is not about the Chinese people, it’s not even about China, who we hope will emerge – doesn’t have to have our system of government per se, there’s all sorts of different ways to structure democracies. No one is more hopeful than we are, and me personally, to have a China that is a partner in the international community. Can you imagine what a China that respects human rights and the liberty and the dignity of all people, their own and others abroad, could do in partnership with the United States? The issues we could confront and solve? It would be an extraordinary development in human events, if that were to occur.
So this is in no way of hostility towards the people. On the contrary, I have incredible respect for the achievements and the importance of Chinese culture and Chinese history. A nation that for almost all of human history has been the most important, or one of the most important in the world, has made extraordinary contributions in the arts and the sciences and in learning and academia. I want that potential and that history to be unleashed to change the world in a positive way.
Unfortunately that is not what we see. What we see here on the path of the government in the Communist party is an effort to roll back the advances towards human freedom that have been made over the last hundred years, particularly since the end of the second world war, and that’s also important to communicate because sometimes when we talk about China it means – to the minds of some –  that were talking about the Chinese, and we are not. We are fully cognizant that in a nation that large, with that many people, there are hundreds of millions of people who aspire to a different way forward but simply do not have the way to advocate for it or are punished for advocating for it, sometimes even with their lives.