On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. spoke at the 2019 Concordia Summit on the threat of China to the United States’ national security.
Scott’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
In this political environment, we need these kinds of conversations more than ever.
I spend a lot of my time in Washington these days. They call the U.S. Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world. I think sometimes people confuse deliberation and delinquency.
Washington is dysfunctional. Rather than have a serious conversation about the issues, like we’re having here today, the politicians in Washington just want to score political points, attack their opponents, and do nothing.
And you want to know why? It’s because the politicians in Washington don’t want to solve problems. They believe political fights are good for their political careers. They want these political fights to go on and on and on, because they’re great fodder for their campaigns.
That’s wrong. If you don’t want to get things done, go home and give someone else a chance.
We need leaders in Washington who are committed to public service, committed to solutions, committed to a prosperous and peaceful future for our country and for the world.
So thank you again to Concordia and thank you to everyone who came to be a part of this discussion.
My speech this morning will focus on China’s growing influence around the world, but I want to take a moment to talk about Iran.
Their continued provocations against the United States and our allies pose a huge risk to national security and the stability of world markets.
If Iran has the ability to bring Saudi oil production to a stand-still, the ripple effect will be felt in economies around the world, including in the United States.
However, the European and Chinese economies will be hurt the most. Thankfully, the U.S. is now a net exporter of fuel.
And if Iran can continue to launch attacks against U.S. assets and our allies in the region unchallenged, their provocations will only continue and expand.
The United States and the international community must step up. We have to act. At the United Nations General Assembly this week, I hope we hear a clear and forceful denunciation of Iran’s aggression and a promise that continued acts of war will be met with a swift and vigorous response.
I hope freedom-loving countries around the world stand up and defend the right of Israel to exist, the right for commerce to flow freely and without intrusion, and the right for the world’s Democracies to defend freedom and human rights around the globe.
Like I said, today I want to talk a little bit about China.
It’s fitting that we’re here today in the shadow of the United Nations as they prepare to convene the 74th Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Freedom-loving countries around the world face a crisis.
China’s growing influence, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East, presents a clear and present danger to the stability of world markets, to the security of the United States and our allies, and to the quest for freedom and democracy around the globe.
We must be clear-eyed about this.
China’s goal is to be the dominant world power. China believes that in order for them to be stronger, America and other freedom-loving countries must be weaker.
To the Communist regime in Beijing, this is a zero-sum game. China does not believe it can prosper unless America fails.
Think about this: China is stealing our technology and refuses to open their markets to foreign goods as required by their agreement to be part of the WTO. This kills American jobs.
They’re militarizing the South China Sea, even after they promised President Obama they wouldn’t. They’re intentionally selling fentanyl into the United States, killing Americans every day.
They’re supporting Maduro’s genocide of young children in Venezuela. They’ve detained possibly more than 1 million Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group in China, in internment and re-education camps.
And they’re threatening Hong Kong and Taiwan’s freedom and self-determination.
Everywhere I travel around the world, I see China’s tentacles stretch further and wider.
In Panama, China is building their own port to control the flow of goods in our hemisphere.
They’re also gaining footholds in ports in the Middle East and Southern Europe.
In Argentina, China is building a new nuclear power plant that the Argentine government doesn’t want or need.
All across Africa, China is mining natural resources to further intricate themselves with industries and new markets, with the goal of controlling those industries and markets.
And all around the world, technology companies like Huawei expand their reach.
China’s growing influence is ubiquitous. This is, and will continue to be, the greatest challenge we face in the next century.
China is not our friend. They, like Russia and Iran, do not believe in personal freedom and they plan to control the world order.
Let’s focus on Huawei for a moment.
You hear it all the time: Huawei is a national security threat to the United States and our allies.
But what does that mean? What is Huawei’s relationship with the Chinese government and the Communist Party?
And what specific threat to American national security lies at the heart of this conflict?
Huawei is a major producer of smartphones and telecommunications equipment that is essential to 5G networks.
We know that Huawei has violated international sanctions and stolen intellectual property, but the threat to the United States and our allies is far greater than that.
The tech that Huawei manufactures gives them access to data and information that would be invaluable to China’s efforts to influence governments all over the world.
Think about this for a second. Every piece of Huawei tech and infrastructure, every Huawei smartphone, can be a tool in China’s intelligence toolkit.
Simply put, countries that do business with Huawei eliminate their citizens’ and their country’s privacy rights.
Now, the question is why: why would Huawei, a company that is trying to make a profit in a competitive industry, put their business at risk by aiding the Communist Regime in Beijing?
The simple answer is this: they don’t have a choice.
China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law states that “any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law.”
And China’s 2014 Counter-Espionage law states that “relevant organizations and individuals” who collect relevant data and evidence “shall provide it truthfully and may not refuse.”
If the Communist Regime in China wants the data collected by Huawei, they can get it. No questions asked. These companies have to comply or go to prison.
But assuming that Huawei would only share data under duress would be a mistake.
Let’s remember, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei is a member of China’s Communist Party and served as an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
American researchers have even raised serious questions as to who owns Huawei, since the company has never sold shares publicly and has refused to clearly define their ownership.
Huawei’s relationship with the Communist government of China poses a HUGE risk to our national security and the security of our allies – and to your privacy.
The United States, Australia and others are right to keep Huawei out of their markets. And our allies must take heed: allowing Huawei access to your markets and to your 5G networks will risk your privacy rights and seriously harm the United States’ ability to share valuable intelligence with you.
Huawei is a perfect example of the how the United States has been asleep at the wheel over the last 10 to 20 years in our relationship with China.
Our former vice president even said recently that China is “not competition for us.” Really, Vice President Biden? China is “not competition for us?” What world have you been living in?
We’ve valued quick and cheap over secure and reliable, and now we are going to have to spend the next 10 to 20 years decoupling our reliance on their technology.
Thankfully, this administration is taking a stand against China, and it’s about time.
All of this is connected. Our trade negotiations with China are not just about trade, or at least should be understood in the broader context. China is our adversary, not our friend. Friends do not try to harm you the way China has.
China’s plan for world domination should influence the full spectrum of policy decisions we, as the United States, and freedom-loving countries around the world make.
There’s a couple simple things that I’ve proposed that we can accomplish right now. I filed a bill recently that would require the U.S. government to stop teaching English in China. Why are U.S. taxpayers funding a program to teach English in China? It makes no sense.
I also filed a bill that would prohibit the federal government from purchasing drones from our adversaries, like China. Federal agencies spend millions of dollars a year on Chinese-made drones and local law enforcement agencies use federal grants to do the same.
This needs to stop. The United States government should not be using Chinese tech that could be used to spy on us. Period.
You wouldn’t buy a home security camera from a professional thief, so why would we buy tech or drones from China.
Like I said, it’s important to be clear-eyed. We have to see China for who they are.
We must be vigilant. We must be aggressive. But we can only do so if we can explain to the American people and freedom-loving people around the world what we’re fighting for and what we’re fighting against.
My goal is to shine light on this threat to the strength and security of the United States and our allies.
America’s role of fighting for freedom and liberty worldwide depends on it. The future of our children and grandchildren depends on it.
And I won’t stop fighting until America’s economic and political future is secure from the threat of Chinese influence.
I don’t want my grandchildren to worry about their future. We must make sure future generations have every opportunity to live in an America that stands for freedom and liberty here and around the globe.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., was elected to the U.S. Senate last year after eight years as governor.