Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on CBS News’ Face The Nation and ABC’s State Of The Union this morning to discuss China’s growing influence and telecommunications threats to U.S. national security interests, and the issue of North Korea.
On Wednesday, Rubio spoke on the Senate floor on how the U.S. response to China will define the 21st century. Rubio recently introduced legislation to protect American workers from China’s economic aggression. He also wrote an op-ed on his legislation, outlining how to counter Beijing's economic tools of aggression.
A partial and rough transcript of Rubio’s interview with CBS is transcribed below.
MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump says it looks good for that June 12th summit with Kim Jong Un. Should it go ahead?
SENATOR RUBIO: It depends. It depends what's going to happen there. You know North Korea is a strange place. We're not dealing with Italy or France here or some-- even the old Soviet Union. So they're playing a game you know Kim Jong Un these nuclear weapons or something he's psychologically attached to, they are what give him his prestige and importance. I mean we're not talking about him because of his global and economic power. We're talking about them because they have nuclear weapons and long range missiles and he knows that. And so for him to give that up is going to be very difficult. So my suspicion remains that he is going to try to get as much sanctions relief as possible without having to give up his weapons. And I think it's going to be a lot of twists and turns along the way to try to get there if it's even possible. But I hope I'm wrong. I'd love to see them denuclearize. I just I'm not very optimistic about that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've been vocal about what you think is China outmaneuvering the U.S. on trade on North Korea as well you've raised your concerns. But specifically I want to ask you about this deal with Chinese telecom company--
SENATOR RUBIO: Right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: -- ZTE. You've been leading the charge against it. President Trump says he's got a deal in place to help save this company that's been accused of being a national security threat to the United States. Why isn't the White House proposal sufficient to meet your concerns?
SENATOR RUBIO: So, I talked to the president for over half an hour on Friday night and I think I've gotten to the crux of the difference between his administration and myself and others on our view on this. I think for the president, he's viewing the ZTE issue as a company that broke sanctions and he wants to impose sanctions on them and penalties that are stronger than anyone that has ever seen before and he's right--
MARGARET BRENNAN: One-point-three billion dollar fine he says.
SENATOR RUBIO: Correct. And if this was just a company that did something wrong and needed to be punished, the president's right. The difference is I don't view this just as a ZTE issue. I view it in the broader context of China that has-- that is trying to overtake the United States. They do it by debowing our intel-- our intellectual property. They steal all of our stuff as I said.
And then there has to be consequences for that. And the only thing China is going to respond to is consequential actions over a sustained period of time and putting a company like ZTE out of business is the kind of consequential action that Russia will find that China will finally see that we are taking this stuff seriously and that's the difference of opinion. I don't just view the ZTE issue through ZTE alone. I view it in the broader context of what China is trying to do overtake the United States by stealing and by cheating and they're not going to stop until they know there are real consequences for doing it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But what does that mean. It sounds like this is a done deal. Can Congress do anything to block the transition?
SENATOR RUBIO: Well first of all one of the things that Congress will do is not only put-- not even allow Chinese telecom companies to operate in the United States it's not just ZTE it's Huawei all of them depend on the U.S. semiconductors. None of these companies should be operating in this country. None of them. They are used for espionage. They are part of the supply chain whether it's routers or anything else they embed stuff in there that could be used to spy against us not just for national security. That's how they steal corporate secrets. That's how they transfer technology. If they can't force you to do it through a business deal, they steal it from you. And all of a sudden they can do what we can do but they didn't spend any money to innovate it and then they can surpass us. And we're not going to let that happen through theft. We shouldn't and that's why we shouldn't have any Chinese telecom companies operating in the US.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president going to sign that bill you propose?
SENATOR RUBIO: Well, I believe it'll have a supermajority. I think most members of Congress have come to understand the threat China poses.. But this is a good start and I think there's a growing commitment in Congress to do something about what China is trying to do to the United States. And this is a good place to start, as I said, and I think we'll have a super majority to do it.