Administration Must Back Up Tough Talk on China With Commitment to Defense Funding
‘If the Administration is serious about staying tough on China and strengthening our hand, they’ll have support among Senate Republicans. But any such serious strategy will need to start with maintaining and building up the backbone of our hard power — the competitive edge of the U.S. military.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding China:
“On Thursday, Biden Administration officials had their first person-to-person meeting with representatives from the People’s Republic of China. By diplomatic standards, the opening public exchange was tense.
“The belligerent grandstanding by PRC diplomats was unfortunately no surprise. It’s what we’ve come to expect. As China’s military and economic might have grown, Beijing has found that the bullying tactics that people call their “wolf warrior” diplomatic strategy have often worked out for them.
“So I was glad the U.S. team used the opportunity to cut through the CCP’s spin and tell some plain truths about China’s regional bullying and disrespect for the rule of law, whether in Hong Kong or Tibet.
“I’m also glad the Administration has sent U.S. personnel to join other diplomats in Beijing to protest the secret trial of Canadian citizen Michael Kovrig.
“But like I said last week, calling out China rhetorically is just the very first step. An effective U.S. strategy will require more than just tough talk and symbolism.
“The PRC poses all manner of threats to the United States and the free world.
“They want to control crucial sea lanes and the South China Sea.
“They want to expand their capabilities to menace other countries’ forces, including ours, with increasingly accurate long-range weapons.
“They want to rewrite the rules of the international system to suit their interests instead of ours and our friends’.
“These are hard and real challenges. Facing them down will require strength and resolve from the United States and our partners.
“Like I said last week, if the Administration is serious about staying tough on China and strengthening our hand, they’ll have support among Senate Republicans.
“But any such serious strategy will need to start with maintaining and building up the backbone of our hard power — the competitive edge of the U.S. military.
“To defend America, defend American interests, and deter adversaries, we need to sustain our military edge.
“And to sustain our edge, we need to modernize our forces and maintain our capability to project power.
“Defense spending is the single most important policy lever available to us in our competition with China.
“The President’s budget submission will tell Beijing a lot about whether the Biden Administration intends to back up tough talk with actual strength.
“Finally, whatever Congress may do to step up our game on China, it will be essential that it be bipartisan. The legislative components of national security should not swing wildly every time the gavels change hands.
“It’s a perfect demonstration of why scrapping the 60-vote threshold for legislation would be catastrophic. For important bills to have a stable and lasting impact, they need broad bipartisan buy-in.”
Related Issues: China