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Rubio Delivers Remarks at Senate Intelligence Hearing
Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered opening remarks and questioned witnesses at a hearing on countering China’s influence in the United States.
Read a transcript below.
“Many countries, both friends and adversaries, try to influence and shape American public opinion and ultimately our political process, often through their embassies, which is what they’re here for, and in many other cases by getting others to echo points because they want us to fund something or support something. But what we’re facing now from China goes far beyond anything the nation has ever confronted, because we’ve never had a competitor/adversary with these resources at their disposal and with the complexity of their reach.
“We’re all set up to think about governmental efforts. This is not just governmental. This is a whole of society, whole of economy approach to how they try to influence our policies in the United States.
“It’s first important to define what it is we’re talking about. Traditional espionage from China is happening at an extraordinary rate, both against our government and against our private sector. That’s not what we’re here to talk about today, although we acknowledge it exists at levels that are equally disturbing. What we’re talking about here is the effort of the Chinese Communist Party to subdue us without fighting, to get us to a point where we are doing the things they want us to do because it’s coming from within.
“To do that, they’ve employed tactics that we’ve never seen before from an adversary. The Russians do this. They’re pretty good at it. They did it during the Cold War. But they look like children next to what these guys are able to employ, and who they are able to deputize.
“Let’s start with Wall Street investment firms and corporations, all of whom have been deputized for decades into arguing the Chinese viewpoint of economic policy of trade because they’re making a lot of money in China now. They may realize that one day, they’ll be put out of business, once their Chinese competitor is given all their intellectual property. But for the next few years, there’s a lot of money invested, and they understand that in order to have access to that market, they have to make the people that give that access happy. So they have come here to the Capitol for decades, march into The White House and argue what the Chinese Communist Party wants them to argue on their behalf….
“In the media…, somebody wants to have access to China, and they don’t want their visa yanked, so they’ve got to be careful how they report about China or what issues they focus on, out of fear…. In many cases, [Beijing is] flat out buying media outlets or even injecting within normal media content paid material that can be tracked back to Communist Party efforts here in the United States.
“We talk about academia. They knew how to play that really well. First of all, their students that they send here pay full rate and more. In many cases, universities have partnerships. You’re dealing with researchers, in many cases, who are used to a belief in open collaboration, even though with the Chinese, it’s usually a one way street. Then there are organizations on campus that they help fund that oftentimes are the first ones out there leading efforts to shut down any efforts to talk about Hong Kong or Tibet or you name it.
“You think about local governments. They’ve now figured out, at the federal level, there’s a strong bipartisan consensus. It’s not fertile ground anymore. What is fertile ground is city halls and state capitols, where the issue is not talked about every day. That’s just easy picking. Imagine someone comes and says, we’re going to make a major investment in your state, or likewise, we’re going to yank a major investment in your state, unless you do what we want you to do on these policy issues. They’ve learned how to use that against us.
“Think about the NBA for a second. There was a time, a few years ago, when you could wear and show up with signs that said anything you wanted negative about America, and I mean anything, but you would be expelled from the arena if you had a shirt that referenced Hong Kong. They would kick you out. The security guard would come and get you and tell you, you have to leave, especially if you’re in the camera’s shot, if it says something negative towards Hong Kong. That happened in the United States of America.
“Think about Hollywood. You will not find a major motion picture studio in America that will produce a film that has a Chinese government villain or even a Chinese villain. Why? Because the movie won’t be distributed over there, and that’s a big market for movies.
“The list goes on and on. We could be here talking about it all day. It’s a big deal, and it’s happening right underneath our nose, and there’s not enough attention being paid to it. As the chairman pointed out, it’s difficult, because at the end of the day, people have First Amendment rights in this country to speak and to advocate for positions, including those that are against our national interest. That’s just the way it is. But this is a dedicated effort. At a minimum, the light has to come on so people can see these roaches, so people can see what’s happening here right underneath our nose and the impact that that potentially has on our society and on our willingness in the future to act.
“Everybody worries about Taiwan, and rightfully so. There’s a lot of reasons, we’re not going to get into all that today, as to why we should be worried. But…here’s the narrative they’re creating and setting up, and they’re using it at our schools and our broad society, and that is, that when the day comes that there is a Taiwan conflict, the first thing some people are going to ask is, why should Americans die defending some small island halfway around the world just off the coast of China? I get it. It’s bad. We should condemn it. But should we really go fight for that? Is it worth the sacrifice, of both treasure and blood, to do it?
“That’s the narrative they’re already setting the groundwork for, and they’re not doing it among the people sitting up here. They’re doing it among the people that one day will be sitting up here or the people that will one day be working for us and the people that will be writing about it, the experts that will be commenting on it. These are the kinds of things that deserve a lot more attention. I’m glad we’re having an open hearing on it.”