Shontel Brown ignores an existential threat to our country from China. The world is an extremely dangerous place. There are threats from many directions – Russia, North Korea, and Iran just to list a few. But China poses the biggest threat. I have visited China three times. I saw that China has far more advanced technology than most Americans appreciate. It no longer can be treated as a Third World country. It is more than a formidable competitor. It is an adversary.
China engages in hostile conduct. It spies and it steals intellectual property. It caused fentanyl and COVID epidemics. It commits genocide against Uyghurs. It flies balloons over our military bases and sets up military operations in Cuba. It buys up American farmland and food companies. It violates international trade agreements. It engages in unfair practices designed to destroy and replace American businesses. It sets up its own secret police stations in American cities. It harasses our military and civilian planes and sails fleets of warships near the Alaska coast. It builds larger and larger supplies of nuclear weapons and will have rough parity with our country by 2035. It encourages and assists actions by North Korea and Russia that threaten our country and our allies. It builds hostile military bases in the South China Sea and in Africa and is trying to make similar arrangements in South America. All of this activity cannot be ignored.
Bad behavior by China must have consequences. Otherwise, such bad behavior will continue and get even worse.
Doing nothing is not an option. One positive step already taken was H.R. 22, the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act. It was a bipartisan initiative to prevent sales of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to any entity associated with the Chinese Communist Party. The overwhelming and bi-partisan vote in its favor was 331-97. But Shontel Brown voted against it. She therefore voted to allow sales to China of our emergency oil supplies. I do not agree with her position.
Another step considered was H.J. Res. 39. This was a resolution that called for rescinding a Commerce Department rule allowing Chinese solar manufacturers to circumvent U.S. tariffs by delivering their products to the U.S. through third-party countries. Shontel Brown voted against it. The House tried to prevent Chinese cheating and Brown was not supportive of the effort. I do not agree with her.
We need even more laws and actions:
- To encourage American businesses in China to come home so that supply chains are less vulnerable;
- To be vigilant about Chinese efforts to infiltrate our industries and our educational institutions;
- To be more pro-active in combatting Chinese cyber attacks;
- To be aware the Chinese use technologies they coerce out of American companies for military purposes;
- To strengthen our relationships with countries like India that are good economic substitutes for China; and,
- To develop further our alliances with countries such as Japan and South Korea that have similar concerns about China.
The Biden Administration has been in no special hurry to take such actions. And so, Congress must apply pressure on it to develop a sense of urgency.
Dangers posed by China to Taiwan are significant. These dangers threaten not only the United States. They also threaten our allies. Taiwan is the world’s major supplier of semi-conductors needed for modern technologies in the United States and elsewhere. The Taiwan Straits is a shipping route that links our country with Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and India. Chinese claims to sole ownership of this area puts world trade at risk.
Taiwan now is the big test of American credibility after the disastrous exit from Afghanistan. Independence of Taiwan has become vitally important to our national interests. America must prepare Taiwan to defend itself. And it must not act slowly as it does in Ukraine. Nothing less will deter China from an invasion. America also must form and strengthen alliances with Japan, Australia, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, and others in case military actions do become necessary.
Shontel Brown is a member of the important House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. This committee examines economic relationships between the two countries. It can recommend measures to help our country compete. It can recommend defensive measures. The House voted 365-65 to establish that committee. But Shontel Brown actually voted AGAINST that resolution! She opposed the very creation of an important committee about China on which she now serves! This brings into question her usefulness on that committee.
Moreover, in a press release announcing her membership on this Select Committee, Shontel Brown showed how much she lacks concern about Chinese threats. She was mostly concerned about “actively fighting against dangerous rhetoric that could lead to irreparable harm to our Asian American communities.” So she will not be a forceful advocate of confronting China. Shontel Brown will be too fearful of being politically incorrect. On this subject, she already has shown herself to be both weak and naive.
War in Ukraine has depleted our supplies of equipment and ammunition. More supplies must be purchased. And Chinese aggression in the South China Sea proves why there is a need to build more ships. The amount presently budgeted for military readiness has become inadequate. And Shontel Brown and other progressives would vote to allocate even less money for national defense. They would prefer to divert resources to their wish list of social programs. But such programs will not mean much if our country is not safe.
Our country is not prepared to confront China. And some confrontations already are happening.
There is an economic battle with China over primacy of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If the Chinese yuan replaces the American dollar, our country will have less access to capital, higher borrowing costs and lower stock market values. Having the world's reserve currency also has allowed the U.S. the luxury of running large deficits in terms of both international trade and government spending. This is a battle with potential consequences.
There also is a political contest with China all over the world for influence, especially in Africa. There, the Chinese used its “Belt and Road Initiative” to dump over $1 trillion as loans in 150 developing and least developed countries with high rates of interest. China has become the world's largest creditor. It has used its creditor status if/when African countries default with their debt payments to acquire control of African minerals and ports. This is yet another battle with potential consequences.
There are cyber-attacks by Chinese actors. Threats from China have increased in outer space where communications satellites linking all parts of American society are located. There have been Chinese infiltrations of American universities and research facilities. These all are forms of economic and ideological contests. We will lose them if we do not prepare better.
And, of course, there is all that fentanyl that the Chinese help send and that kills so many of our fellow citizens. We can choose to believe that the Chinese government cannot do anything serious to interrupt the supply of ingredients. But that belief would be naïve. China knows full well what it has been doing.
Clearly, Americans care more about the economy than they care about foreign policy. But they must pay more attention to our country’s place in the world. In the modern world, our country cannot afford isolationism. And it cannot afford to ignore China.