On Monday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. took to the Senate floor to outline the threat posed by the Chinese government and Communist Party. He also talked about the future of the U.S.-China relationship.
Excerpts of Rubio’s remarks on the Senate floor are below:
I think there’s another truism, and that is what is developing today: an incredibly serious imbalance between the United States and China on trade and commerce, increasingly on diplomacy, potentially — eventually — militarily, and geopolitically. And so when I come today to speak about China, it’s not simply in the context of our current trade tensions, which is part of a much broader issue. And the fact of the matter is that this is the way we should view it because this is the way the Communist Party of China views it. The truth is that they view our trade tensions as an inevitable blip in their long-term plan to supplant the United States of America as the world’s dominant political, military, and economic power.
Now, it’s understandable why many Americans would feel uneasy at the prospect of being supplanted by China. First of all, having seen so many of our industries that once thrived in our towns and cities weakened or leave altogether, and then reading about the grotesque violation of human rights and dignity of people and China’s Communist Party’s persecution of Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities.
The sad fact is that we have come to this realization far too late in this city. For many years, many of the policy elites across the political spectrum turned a blind eye to this growing threat.
At this point, given all the information before us and the trends that have clearly emerged, ignorance on this matter is no longer an excuse. And frankly the Communist Party of China is no longer hiding its ambition about what this is all about.
I’m not asking you to believe my words on this. I just ask you that you believe them. That you take their word seriously, and that’s why I come here to point to a speech last week by Huang Qifan, who’s a former Central Committee member and recently retired as the Vice-Chair of the National People’s Congress Financial and Economic Affairs Committee.
To Huang, as he makes clear, the trade war that is ongoing is a fight to the death, an inevitable outcome in a fight between two systems. The United States, according to Huang in his speech, cannot have partners, cannot make space for others in the world. Rather we’re stuck. We’re stuck in a situation in which China must fight the United States, either economically or militarily to find its place in the world.
In very clear language he says ‘these are problems that capitalism can’t avoid.’ That’s his quote. But the Chinese system through central guidance, this is our institutional advantage, he argues. Embedded in his speech, there are two themes. The first is a confidence in the inevitability of China’s rise and its conflict with the United States. But closely related to it is the second theme and that is an appeal to the rest of the world to follow in the Chinese authoritarian model, or as they call it, socialism with Chinese characteristics because in their telling, it is clearly a superior model to ours.
The time has come for America and our allies who value freedom and liberty and free enterprise, democracy, human rights, the dignity of all people, the time has come for us to eagerly confront this assertion. Unfortunately, there are too many in the Western World and in the free world that refuse to see the challenges — indeed the threat — that is posed by the Communist Party of China’s vision of the world and the future.
Rather than discuss the technical threat posed by an entity like Huawei, I want to articulate the threat that the Communist Party of China’s own words, the threat in their own words, quote, as Chief Qifan said last week, ‘Our currency will become the world currency.’
And understand the implications of this stated goal. China’s aim is to use economic power to displace the United States of America and the role it has played in the world since the end of the Second World War.
China’s message to the world is that its industries, its workers, its politics will be more productive than ours. The Chinese Communist Party says to foreign to countries, to investors, to businesses that the long-term play to keep their economies growing is by partnering with them, not partnering with us.
And some may say well what’s the big deal about that? Let’s just take care of our own problems. Here’s the big deal. Here’s what it would mean for Americans in real terms. If the world heads in the direction they advocate, it would mean lower wages for you. It would mean homes and mortgages that are unaffordable, and it would mean a world where what you can say and do abroad, but also at home is increasingly dictated by the Chinese Communist Party and its benefactors in the United States and elsewhere.
Our leadership must also be one that respects human dignity, that defends our interests and religious liberty and democracy and human rights and the rule of law, which means consistently sticking up for nations committed to the same ideals. And standing with people who are fighting for these and being crushed by totalitarianism anywhere in the world.
The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, cannot conceive of a world that’s not driven by status and hierarchy. They are not partners and they view no one as partners. They view them as vassal states.
The Chinese Communist Party power serves no purpose but to strengthen the Party’s rule and to spread its influence around the world. And for them, those who deviate from the Party’s expectations deserve to be sent to forced labor camps where they toil on the Party’s behalf, where mass surveillance is a necessary safeguard against deviants whose only crime is to want a private civic life. As part of making the case for our model, we must continue to make the case as to why China is an untrustworthy partner in any endeavor whether it’s a nation state project, an industrial capacity, or financial integration.
The bottom line is that China no matter what will continue to play a prominent role in the future of our world and frankly we should welcome a growing, thriving China, but one that plays by the rules. Today’s China, governed by the Chinese Communist Party, is not playing by any rules. It’s a predatory state in nature, and it actively seeks to supplant, not just the United States, but a world order committed to democracy, human rights, and the dignity of all. Since their induction into the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has shown itself to be anything but a responsible global partner, and this is a dangerous recipe for conflict.
China clearly sees the moment, these decades really. As their opportunity to supplant America from its global leadership role, and conflict, armed or otherwise, is an inevitable byproduct of that progression. America, as Huang noted, has been the world’s leader for decades and we have used that power to build an international system that prioritizes fundamental human rights, open democratic governance, and liberal economies, all the things that the Communist Party of China believes represents weakness.
So we must be absolutely clear as to what that means. If China becomes the world’s dominant economic power, they will become the world’s dominant military power. They will become the world’s dominant financial power. They will become the world’s dominant cultural power. And given their critique, and I would say disdain of our system, we can expect that in a future such as that, it will look much different than the reality that we live now. If China supplants America and the West, the world our children will inherit will be nothing like the one we grew up in and know.
Blissful ignorance is no longer an option. We cannot overlook the obvious signs in favor of near-term economic gains. The world has reached a crossroads — one in which our inability to act will usher in a Chinese century. And that will have disastrous consequences.”