U.S. Must Invest in American Strength, Security, and Alliances
‘[W]hen we see the mismanagement and dysfunction from regimes like Putin’s and Xi’s, the answer is not for America and our allies to relax our vigilance, pull inward, or pay less attention to our global interests. The answer is to increase our vigilance, redouble our strength, and keep our friends and partners even closer.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding China and U.S. foreign policy:
“The world’s eyes are trained this week on the people of China, who appear to be engaged in the largest and most widespread protests against the country’s repressive Communist Party government since 1989 and the events of Tiananmen Square.
“While most of the rest of the world has learned how to adapt to the coronavirus, mitigate its worst effects, and get on living our lives, the people of China — where the whole crisis began — are still trapped in a ‘Groundhog Day’ of permanent pandemic measures.
“Chairman Xi’s so-called ‘Zero COVID’ policy is managing to be both horribly repressive and totally ineffective at the same time. They’ve had unending cycles of punishing lockdowns, repressive quarantines, and mass testing.
“Reports and social media posts are flying around the country — like allegations that the government let people burn up in an apartment building fire rather than break quarantine; and that a four-month-old baby girl died because the COVID rules did not allow her to get proper medical treatment.
“Of course, sadly, none of this is new or an aberration. This is perfectly in line with the CCP’s long and brutal history.
“As in the past, the CCP is failing their citizens and lying about it. When the rest of the world tunes into World Cup matches, they see cheering crowds. But in China, the broadcasts censor views of the stands to prevent their citizens from seeing unmasked foreigners enjoying normal life.
“The people of China have put up with this dystopian state of affairs for nearly three years now. And now their patience has ended.
“Across China’s major cities, residents are taking to the streets and speaking out. Local, civil protests are not uncommon in China, but these protests appear to have a different character. More widespread. More bold and brave. More fed up.
“Unsurprisingly, demonstrators have received harsh treatment from the authorities, who’ve reportedly beaten protestors and detained a foreign journalist covering the events.
“The state media keeps parroting propaganda. But video evidence of the protests and the heavy-handed response is getting through the CCP’s ‘Great Firewall.’ And thus far, the people have not backed down.
“Now, you hear some people suggesting that if a clumsy authoritarian nation is facing such troubles at home, it must pose less of an international threat than we had thought. But this is precisely wrong.
“Vladimir Putin’s previous aggressions against Georgia and Ukraine, its operations in Chechnya and Syria, and now this latest brutal war show exactly how even clumsy and dysfunctional regimes can inflict a terrible toll on free nations and free peoples. Iran, North Korea, and Syria have spent decades proving the same thing.
“Of course, China isn’t declining. It’s continuing to expand and modernize its military power. And Xi and his CCP constantly show us that they view denying their own people’s freedom at home and disrupting other countries’ freedom throughout the Indo-Pacific as two goals that go hand in hand.
“For thugs and dictators, repression at home and aggression abroad are two sides of the same coin.
“So when we see the mismanagement and dysfunction from regimes like Putin’s and Xi’s, the answer is not for America and our allies to relax our vigilance, pull inward, or pay less attention to our global interests. The answer is to increase our vigilance, redouble our strength, and keep our friends and partners even closer.
“The Biden Administration’s statement yesterday on the Chinese people’s protests was too tepid. But what we need are not just stronger short-term words; but stronger long-term actions and strategies.
“The support that America and our friends have provided to Ukraine has not just been an act of philanthropy to an innocent people who deserve help fighting off the invaders. It is also bringing major benefits to the U.S. and our partners in the most practical terms.
“In the course of fighting for their homes and families, the brave people of Ukraine are seriously degrading the abilities of one of the free world’s greatest self-appointed adversaries to deal out violence.
“Putin and other wannabe tyrants the world over are learning that the cost-benefit calculus to bullying and bloodshed doesn’t look like they thought it would.
“The importance of this deterrence goes beyond just Europe.
“China has spent decades investing steadily in military technologies that increase threats to U.S. forces and our allies in the region.
“The CCP has steadily built military installations in the South China Sea, like a bully standing on a street corner, trying to grab control over international waters and shipping lanes.
“China has spent years methodically building up the very capabilities it would need to seize Taiwan by force if its people refuse to bend the knee, as we have already seen the CCP try with Hong Kong.
“So, clearly, we need to invest in our own strength, in our own alliances, in our own military modernization and defense-industrial base.
“The United States needs a strong, well-equipped military capable of preserving the strategic advantage and projecting power anywhere in the world.
“We need allies and partners willing to invest in their own capabilities.
“We need our private sector — and our partners’ — to understand that free peoples ought to be doing more trading among ourselves, but be more a lot more careful locating their capital and their employees in a repressive country that disregards basic freedoms and steals intellectual property on an industrial scale.
“And we need a sufficient military-industrial base to keep ourselves safe and remain the free world’s arsenal — a win-win for our security and our economy.
“Among other things, that means rebuilding munitions stockpiles and weapons inventories that have been allowed to atrophy since the end of the Cold War.
“It means not waiting to arm and train our partners until a bad actor has already started a war.
“And it means not wasting American strength and credibility, as this Administration has done by desperately chasing sweetheart deals with Iran and abandoning Afghanistan with no strategy.
“Providing for the common defense is one of our basic duties here in Congress.
“The Democratic Leader should have prioritized the National Defense Authorization Act months ago. I am glad that we’ll finally be turning to this essential bill shortly. Strong funding and strong authorization for our national security should never have to be partisan issues.
“I know our Democratic friends have internal disagreements about what level of funding our Armed Forces deserve.
“But Republicans can guarantee this much — our side will keep standing strong for American security and American strength.”
Related Issues: NDAA, Iran, China, COVID-19, Iran Nuclear Deal, Afghanistan, Russia, National Security, America's Military, Senate Democrats