McConnell: To Out-Compete China, Invest In Hard Power

‘The United States, for our part, needs no convincing that China poses a singular strategic threat… But if we want to succeed at the big things like out-competing China, we need to get our ducks in a row on our most basic governing responsibility - providing for the common defense.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding China:

“During this week’s summit in Vilnius, NATO allies issued a wide-ranging joint statement on the challenges facing the Alliance.

“Among other things, I was encouraged to see our allies united in a particularly frank new assessment of the Chinese threat.

“‘The People’s Republic of China’s stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security, and values… The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.’

“Some of us have even more stark concerns about the PRC. But even this consensus statement indicates a promising shift towards the realism the current moment demands.

“Of course, NATO allies have never just been concerned with the North Atlantic. Individual NATO allies fought alongside US soldiers in Korea and deployed to other far-flung regions to help contest Soviet aggression.

“After 9/11, NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time and came to America’s defense. A number of NATO allies deployed to Afghanistan, and some stayed until the bitter end, long after certain American politicians had given up.

“NATO created a training mission in Iraq. And NATO allies remain focused on the threat radical terrorists still pose to our collective security.

“Russia’s invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 woke some allies – and some Americans – to the threat posed by great power adversaries.

“But the dramatic escalation in Ukraine last year sounded an even louder alarm. NATO as an alliance is focused on the threat posed by great-power adversaries, and not just on the European continent.  

“As the UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee put it in a new report, ‘China almost certainly maintains the largest state intelligence apparatus in the world – dwarfing the UK’s Intelligence Community and presenting a challenge for our Agencies to cover.’

“Europe’s largest and most integrated economies are recognizing the dangers of getting in bed with authoritarian regimes.

“As Germany’s Foreign Minister Baerbock has observed candidly, ‘We paid for every cubic metre of Russian gas twofold and threefold with our national security.’

“I’m hopeful our Allies are resolved to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. They seem to increasingly understand the deep strategic links between their own continent and the Indo-Pacific.

“That’s why the Alliance invited key partners – Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand – to participate in the Vilnius summit.

“Now, effective deterrence, resilience, and defense means much more than strong words and diplomatic displays of unity.

“It means concrete plans backed by robust investments.

“Today, Germany’s government is releasing a follow-up to its new security strategy dedicated to what it calls a ‘systemic rivalry’ with China. The Foreign Minister describes the long-awaited plan as an effort to, ‘protect our own resilience, our own security, and reduce dependencies that threaten us.’

“It is encouraging to hear the Foreign Minister acknowledging that the PRC has become, ‘more repressive at home and more offensive abroad.’

“However, the document clearly reflects an ongoing debate within the German government about how to engage both economically and strategically with China. The United States and other Allies will be watching how this debate unfolds, and what practical steps Germany takes to limit growing threats from Beijing.

“As Germany’s major pledges to make significant new investments in defense suggest, Berlin really is at a turning point.

“I am hopeful Germany’s defense commitments will be realized; that promised funds will go under contract to repair its badly atrophied military; and that German businesses will diversify their investments away from increasingly risky bets in the PRC.

“The United States, for our part, needs no convincing that China poses a singular strategic threat. In fact, clear majorities of Americans support expanding our deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

“But if we want to succeed at the big things like out-competing China, we need to get our ducks in a row on our most basic governing responsibility – providing for the common defense.

“Hard power is essential – more so than any number of pet rocks politicians hold up as helpful to compete with China.

“Hard power is the currency of geopolitics.

“The National Defense Authorization Act – our annual, must-pass opportunity to assert national security priorities – is finally before us.

“And when it comes to actually delivering the robust funding our armed forces need, the Biden Administration has left our work cut out for us. His defense budget was plainly insufficient to meet the growing security challenges we face.

“We need to invest in the cutting-edge capabilities that will make our adversaries think twice. And we need to rebuild the industrial base that keeps America’s arsenal – and the arsenal of democracy, our allies’ arsenals – stocked.

“There is no time to rest on our laurels.”


Related Issues: NDAA, National Security, Russia, NATO, China