Last night, Rubio appeared on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle to discuss this and telecommunications threats to U.S. national security interests. Last week, Rubio delivered remarks on the Senate floor and introduced legislation to protect American workers from China’s economic aggression. Rubio also recently wrote an op-ed on his legislation, outlining how to counter these economic tools of aggression used by Beijing.
A video of the exchange is available here. A partial and rough transcript of the exchange is below:
Senator Marco Rubio: United and American Airlines are being threatened by China that if their website doesn’t say “Taiwan China”, they’re going to lose their routes and have fines and penalties. Marriott fired an American worker based in the United States of America because he accidentally liked a tweet on Tibet.
Yesterday, the GAP, we’ve all been to the GAP, they printed a t-shirt with the map of China but it didn’t include Taiwan. And of course the GAP quickly scattered, scrambled out, apologized, they issued a statement respecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. American companies are being bullied to the point where an American was fired in the United States because he liked a tweet. What is the State Department doing when companies come to them and say “we are being harassed in this way?” Because these companies have all caved.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alex Wong: The State Department believes these actions are outrageous and disturbing. I think we are all familiar with the sharp power that Beijing wields its market access as a cudgel to reap certain economic concessions from private sector entities like intellectual property transfers or certain joint ventures with Chinese companies. What they are doing now is extending this market access tactic to free speech to extend, as the White House called it, the Chinese view of political correctness to private sector actors and in particular U.S. companies. And we find that outrageous. As you have seen, the White House and the State Department have raised this publicly , condemned it publicly. We’ve raised it privately with our Chinese counterparts. And we’ve discussed this with the companies at issue. China is very much well aware that it is wading into treacherous waters here. And they understand that if they continue along this path, continue to employ these tactics, it will negatively affect the U.S.-China relationship and that there will be consequences.
Rubio: I’m not so sure they think they are in treacherous waters because they keep winning. All these companies keep doing what they want because in the end having market share is more important to these companies apparently than the trends that these are setting.
I have one more quick question because one of the things China is trying to do as well is influence votes in international forums and have leverage even in our own hemisphere. So just in the last year, we’ve had not one but two countries in this hemisphere first Panama - after a lot of investment in Panama – and now the Dominican Republic two weeks ago after who knows what happened, both switch away from Taiwan’s recognition and towards recognition of China. And now I am hearing that perhaps Paraguay might be next and they’re going to continue to work on this. And of course when they invest all this money in these countries and frankly often times bribe individuals in government things that our companies can’t do but their companies can. When they do these things, it’s often as leverage to align those country foreign policy to what China’s foreign policy may be. And the first step is to get them to break away from Taiwan, no longer recognize Taiwan, and align themselves and recognize China.
What is the State Department doing … are we telling countries around the region that we don’t want to continue to see them to do so? Have we talked to Honduras, Guatemala, and Paraguay, and other countries in the region many of whom receive significant aid from the United States? Do they hear from us that we care about this issue?
Wong: Senator thank you for your question. Attempts to close off the international space of Taiwan and to alter the status quo across the strait are disturbing to the United States. In our US One China Policy we seek to strengthen ties with Taiwan, we seek to provide them proper defensive capabilities to defend their democracy but we also want to maintain the status quo because it’s the key to stability across the strait. Any moves to strip Taiwan of its diplomatic partners disturbs that status quo and that’s something that we make clear to our partners and we make clear to Beijing as well.
Rubio: So we made it clear to the Dominican Republic that they shouldn’t do what they did?
Wong: That is my understanding.
Rubio: And they did it already.