Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing on the Review of the FY2021 State Department Budget Request, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Video of Rubio’s remarks can be found here and a full transcript of Senator Rubio’s remarks are below.
Rubio: I know election security is not your area of expertise, but I think you can comment on what I'm about to ask. I'm sure you're well aware of influence efforts on the part of the Chinese and Taiwan to shape Taiwanese policies, policies of their government. I'm certain as most people on this Committee I hope are aware how they pressure political figures that they view are opposed to their interests. And I think we've all witnessed — I think you’ll confirm this — that China has engaged in efforts of disinformation, particularly about the coronavirus.
I'm not asking you to comment specifically about our country. I think I'm more than anything else asking, if China ever decided they want to do those kinds of things to us, would you assess they have the capability to conduct disinformation campaign, to pressure American political figures — potentially even members of Congress — the way we've seen them do in Taiwan and Australia and other places? If they decided they wanted to do that — this is the second largest economy in the world, pretty significant capabilities — if they ever decided they wanted to come after us in that way, they would have the capability to do it, would they not?
Pompeo: Senator, they certainly have the capability. I've talked about this. The Chinese United Front is working here in the United States today. They're meeting with state legislators, they’re meeting with governors. [O]ne of the things that was taking place out of the consulate at Houston were influence operations conducted by their diplomats. I know we have diplomats from all across the world who come to our offices as members of Congress and talk to us about policy. What I'm talking about is fundamentally different from that. So they not only have the capability, but [also] the intention of conducting influence operations in the United States. I think we're a pretty resilient nation. I’m confident that we’ll push back against that. But the world needs to understand that when it's happening here, in the United States, it's happening in their countries too.
Rubio: Well, I think one of the things that's interesting from yesterday is the four CEOs of these tech companies appeared, I believe, before a House committee yesterday if I'm not mistaken. And they were asked a very simple question — do they believe that China steals technology from U.S. firms? They were asked this question. I think there's pretty strong consensus across the board in both parties and in the media and elsewhere that the answer to that question is “yes.” The CEO of Apple said they haven't experienced it. That was his answer. The CEO of Google said, “Neither have we.” And the CEO of Amazon says, “Oh, I've read that.” Only the CEO of Facebook said, “Yes, absolutely.” So Apple, Google, and Amazon answered that question by saying either they hadn't experienced it or they’ve read that somewhere, but wouldn't comment further. Why would corporations such as this — some of whom, by the way, take it upon themselves to censor truth versus what's not true and what they believe some people should be saying and not others on the basis of what they judge to be true — why would three of the CEOs of the four largest tech companies headquartered in the United States be afraid to answer that question?
Pompeo: Senator, I can only speculate. I mean, it's patently clear to anyone who's watching that the Chinese are engaged in intense efforts of intellectual property theft, including to technology.
Rubio: Would it be fair in your mind to speculate that they try to influence people even in the business community?
Rubio: I think I know the answer to this as well, would you agree with the belief — I think again that's pretty widespread — that China has systematically identified industries and technologies that they believe will be key to the 21st century — they actually wrote it, “Made in China 2025” — and they've undertaken a systematic effort to dominate these industries while destroying our capability?
That’s what the IP theft is about, the forced transfer of technology, subsidies to their firms, blocking access to their markets. There is no doubt at this point that they have a very carefully crafted plan to dominate certain key industries for the 21st century, and to wipe out not just our capabilities in those industries but everybody else’s. That's a fair assessment?
Pompeo: Yes, Senator Rubio, and they've not been covert about this. They've spoken openly about how they're approaching their commercial interests. The only thing that they don't speak about is that, rather than build these industries inside, the tools that they use are fundamentally different than the way Western democracies do. We train our people, we build our businesses, we invest capital in the market. They run state-sponsored enterprises, they steal intellectual property, and they endeavor to undermine other companies and threaten and bully countries around the world into buying their products.
Rubio: My last question is unrelated to China directly, but as you're well aware there have been press reports, speculations, commentators and the like that have made much about recent allegations — and in one case, an interview the President gave, in which they took from it that the President would be willing to engage in negotiations with Maduro and the Maduro regime in Venezuela. As you understand our policy — being in the position that you’re in — could you envision, as long as this Administration is in office, we would ever negotiate with the Maduro regime for them to remain in power?
Pompeo: Absolutely not. Our policy is not to negotiate [with] them for anything other than his departure from ruling that country.
Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues. Rubio is currently Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Majority Administrative Cochairman of the Senate National Security Working Group.