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Marco Rubio leads GOP push to take a more cooperative stance in China


Marco Rubio wants Americans to “wake up”.

The Republican senator from Florida warned China was locked in a conflict with the United States. We just haven’t realized it yet.

And even as Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine shows that wars of aggression are no longer a relic of the past – “a return to history”, Rubio calls it – he is concerned that politicians China’s Communist rule poses a more pernicious, long-term danger to American peace and prosperity, and that threat is not taken seriously.

“We have no use pretending they are not the enemy,” Rubio said in an interview. “Their goal is to rise at the expense of the United States.”

As the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rubio has access to the latest insights from US spy agencies. And what he saw about China’s growing reach made him wary: a campaign of economic espionage and infiltration of American institutions; rapid accumulation of nuclear and conventional forces that’s the Taiwan threat; an expanding disinformation machine seeking to undermine the United States around the world.

Those concerns are widely shared by Democrats in Washington. Since taking officeThe Biden administration has taken steps to strengthen America’s alliances in Asia, reorienting NATO toward confrontation with China, approving nearly $1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, and delivering sanctions on China. Chinese officials and strongly criticize China’s human rights policies and commercial practices. The National Assembly is busy finalizing COMPETITION Act, a huge piece of legislation that both sides consider important against China. But if Republicans take control of Congress in November, they will be able to push an even tougher line.

On Tuesday, Rubio will give a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, in which he is expected to argue that “Beijing’s military might, ideological challenge to democracy, corruption Technological ambitions and influence on the global market are an even more serious and systemic threat than the Soviet Union ever did. ”

Victory in that conflict blinded Americans to the dark realities of totalitarianism, in Rubio’s narration. “For the past three decades, we have forgotten that human nature tends to want to dominate,” read part of his remarks shared with The New York Times. “The desire of the strong to conquer, enslave and control those weaker than themselves.”

What America needs above all, Rubio argues, is “unity and clarity about the threat we face.”

The speech was a powerful kick-start to the debate in Washington and among Republicans about how to deal with Beijing. How much emphasis should American leaders put on Russia versus China? Is China a worthy competitor or merely a fierce competitor? Is the US losing its edge? And, if so, what to do with it?

Rubio’s own Twitter feed represent competing demands for the attention of policymakers. Even as he honed his arguments on China, he directly tweet his insights about the war in Ukraine.

“Republicans are grappling with whether to prioritize these threats and how to prioritize these threats,” said Elbridge Colby, a senior defense official in the Trump administration. . “But the truth is we don’t just rewind the clock to 1989 and everything will be the same as before.”

The Republican Party may be divided on Russia – between mainstream national-security hawks and a smaller faction that admire Putin’s perceived toughness and defense of his traditional values ​​- but criticize China as a victor politics for sure.

In a poll conducted last year, nearly half of Americans said they consider China as America’s Greatest Enemya double figure compared to 2020. In one last year’s survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs64% of Republicans said the United States should try to limit China’s rise, while 60% of Democrats said they would prefer cooperation and engagement.

“Republicans are very negative on China, much more negative than Democrats,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster. He noted that the coronavirus pandemic has fueled growing skepticism about China and its role in the world.

China has proven to be a strong issue during the 2022 midterm campaign, as Republican politicians try to outdo each other in the primaries for congressional seats. In Midwestern states struggling with job losses in the manufacturing sector, this is a topic of domestic policy as well as a national security concern.

In Ohio, Mike Gibbons, a businessman who is leading the Republican primary in the Senate in several polls, is fighting accusations that he used to be favored for outsourcing jobs in China.

In Pennsylvania’s Senate race, David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive, and Mehmet Oz, a prominent physician, are trading accusations about who is more defiled by Beijing.

For Rubio, his first mission is to be re-elected in Florida this year. But he ran for president a while ago, and the allies expect him to be able to do so again. So his attempt to put a stamp on China will inevitably call into question his ambitions for 2024.

If China is a more serious geopolitical threat than the Soviet Union, it is also a more complex one.

American trades over $600 billion in goods and services with China in 2020 alone, less than the amount the United States ever exchanged with the Soviet Union. The US also depends on China for raw materials such as rare earth minerals, which are used in everything from cell phones to semiconductors to car batteries. And Beijing’s cooperation is essential to making progress on climate change, Biden management officials emphasized.

In the event of war in Taiwan, Rubio said, “It won’t be as easy to punish China as it is to punish Putin.” He argued that not only could China wield far greater military and financial power than Russia, but American elites were also more deeply harmed by their relationship with Beijing.

“China has been very effective in glorifying the American corporate sector as its lobbyists,” said Rubio. It was something he said he experienced firsthand when push for sanctions over China’s treatment of its Muslim minority.

The administration has resisted labeling China an outright enemy, even as it ramps up its criticism of the Chinese government. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year, President Biden said: “We are not looking for a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.”

But the actions of the White House suggest otherwise. Budget it released today refers to China 12 times, referring to the country as a “challenge of tempo”. It calls for a Pentagon budget of $773 billion — a record that eclipses the Trump administration’s spending on the military.

Crime problems. The budget includes billions of federal law enforcement requests, including $17.4 billion to fight violent crime and more than $30 billion in funding for state and local police departments. There are also 5 percent increase for various Homeland Security initiatives. As Katie Benner notesThe message here is pretty simple: Biden doesn’t want to embarrass the police.

Defensive difficulty. All told, Biden is asking for $813.3 billion in spending on national security, up 4% from 2022. Much of the new money will go toward fighting threats from China, Iran, and China. and Russia. As Michael Shear notesit is a far cry from the peace dividend progress expected from the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Difficult for rich people. Biden is proposing a minimum tax on US households worth more than $100 million, an idea in line with what progressives like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have championed. Zolan Kanno-Youngs breaks it down here.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

– Blake & Leah

Is there something you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We would love to hear from you. Email us at the address onpolitics@nytimes.com.





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