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VIDEO: Rubio: U.S. Response to China will Define the 21st Century. This is Not a Game

May 23, 2018 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today about the national security threat posed by Chinese state-directed telecommunications firms like ZTE, in light of recent news reports indicating that the Administration has agreed to the broad outlines of a trade deal that would lift a ban on U.S. companies selling components and software to ZTE.  Rubio also spoke about the geopolitical challenge posed by China’s emergent and aggressive autocratic regime that has no respect for basic human rights or liberties, domestically or internationally.
Yesterday, Rubio appeared on Fox News to highlight the need for rebalance U.S. trade with China. Earlier this month, Rubio delivered remarks on the Senate floor and introduced legislation to protect American workers from China’s economic aggression. The bill would prohibit the federal government, or subsidiaries/contractors, from purchasing telecommunications equipment or services from Huawei and ZTE. Rubio also recently wrote an op-ed on his legislation, outlining how to counter these economic tools of aggression used by Beijing.
A rough and partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
This is not a political game. Nothing to do with that. This is not about politics. Do we not understand where we are headed? You have a country that is actively saying, “We are going to displace you. We are going to be the most powerful country in the world. And we’re going to do that at your expense.’ And we’re out here talking about all kinds of other crazy stuff, or political reporters cover this through the political lens. This is not a game. You know why China wins these negotiations? Because they don’t play these games. They know what this is about. They have a 10-year plan, a 20-year plan, 50-year plan. We can’t think 48 hours ahead. And everything here is about a political thing. This is not a game guys. Whether you want to believe it or not, every single one of us was elected. We’ve participated in politics. But I think most of us, if not all us here, do not want to live in a world in 10 or 15 years, on our watch, where some other country now dominates the world at our expense. We now work for them. We now are beholden to them for everything from medicines to technologies. And we were here when it happened. And we didn’t do anything about it because we were loyal to our party or because we were too busy focused on — well, you guys, just turn on the news. When we have this massive threat before us. This is the stuff historians write about. 100 years from now if this happens we will all look like fools.

This is the threat that we face and we are not facing it squarely. So I would advise those who cover this issue to stop covering it as a political issue. There are some things so important to this country that I don’t care what the politics of it are. And most of my colleagues don’t either. Because these are definitional things that will define the 21st century. I would advise us not to cover this as a purely economic issue because there is a way to grow the trade gap in the short term. We can sell them a lot more things China is willing to buy anyway. They don’t intend to lead the world in those things, in exchange for them dominating us in the long run. Get rid of the short term thinking, and start thinking our competitor has a 50, 100, 20, and 5-year plans. And we don’t even know what we are going to be talking about next week.
It’s time to wake up to this threat because we have two ways forward. There can be a balanced relationship between two great powers, leading to a world that is stable and secure in prosperity. Or  we can have an imbalanced world in which a rising power in China does so at the expense, at the direct expense, of a falling status quo power in the United States. And that instability will lead to conflict, and a way of life for Americans that we will find unacceptable. And then, then it will be too late. And then we will have to explain – maybe to our children and most certainly to our grandchildren – why the America we grew up in, led the world and all the great innovations and all the great ideas and provided prosperity to millions of people here and around the world, and the America they get to grow up in is a second-tier power while China dominates everything that matters.
And if you think that that’s just — that’s not a big deal, one of the reasons why democracy is spread across the planet is because the world’s most powerful country was a democracy. If the world’s most powerful country is a dictatorship, a country that has no respect for privacy, a country that has no respect for free speech, a country that has no respect for religious liberty of its own people, a country that has no regard for human rights anywhere in the world, if that’s the most dominant nation on earth, what do you think the world is going to look like in 20 or 30 years? It’s not going to be a better place. Democracy is morally superior to autocratic regimes. We should not be afraid to say that.
If you want to put aside economics for a moment and confront it from that angle, we cannot allow an autocratic dictatorship to dominate the global economy and global technology by stealing from us at the expense of the democratic order in the world. Democracies are morally superior to dictatorships. And if we allow China to cheat and steal their way into dominance, there will be more dictatorships and less democracies on this planet, and we will all pay a price for that.
So I urge everyone to take this issue seriously, and I urge the president to listen carefully to those in his own administration who understand this threat holistically for what it is. And I urge them to move in a direction that recalibrates the structure of our relationship with China economically, and that does not allow not just ZTE but numerous other telecom communications from continuing to grow and spy at our expense.
That’s what I encourage them to do. That is the right thing to do for the future of this country, not some short-term deal that makes us feel good and potentially gets you a positive headline in the short term, but which historians will condemn as the beginning of the end of America’s place in the world as its most influential nation.