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ICYMI: Rubio: Breaking the China Supply Chain

May 15, 2020 | Press Releases

Breaking the China Supply Chain
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
May 14, 2020
Henry Jackson Society
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)… is aggressively working to supplant democratic order and governance, as well as the alliances and systems that uphold it – including our Five Eyes partnership. Strategic competition with China is about the fight for democracy against authoritarianism. The CCP’s goal is not just to materially enrich its country, but to re-centre the global order around Beijing by making all countries reliant on China for a range of strategic goods – from raw minerals to telecommunication equipment to medical supplies – and by advancing its authoritarian model of government abroad. 

The global emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, originating in Wuhan, China, has made clear the dangers of this dependence. Chinese capture of supply chains that produce equipment like face-masks and respirators has directly resulted in lives lost across all our countries. For example, after having dominated the production of masks, the CCP directed its manufacturing inward after the outbreak and purchased the remainder of the global supply, denying our countries access. In the US, this meant that some doctors, nurses, and paramedics were initially forced to ration supplies and even forego protective equipment. 
Weeks later, once Beijing claimed to have finally slowed the spread of the coronavirus within its own borders, it decided to restart selling medical supplies to the rest of the world to improve its international image. But, as a majority of the Five Eyes countries can attest, many of the products the Chinese did sell were defective, placing even more lives at risk.

Reducing strategic dependence on China must naturally be tailored from country to country. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, I have introduced legislation to help return essential medical supply chains to America from China, offering tax breaks to firms that produce pharmaceuticals in the US. In the same vein, I have proposed a co-operative model to spur the creation of supply chains for rare-earth mining, which could be replicated for other industries. 

Many approaches to combating dependence on China will also necessarily be multilateral. When it comes to telecommunications infrastructure, we are already seeing signs of progress. Countries as varied as Japan and Poland – as well as several members of our Five Eyes partnership – are spurring the development of an emerging fifth-generation communications market to compete with Huawei.
China is devoting a whole-of-state effort to reshape the global order with a communist regime at its centre; building a future more resilient to its strategic machinations will be an exacting challenge for all five of our countries. But achieving that level of independence will be critical to sustaining the integrity of the Five Eyes partnership and our ability to support each other on national security issues, as well as defend democratic order and the aspirations of free people.
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