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When China Acts on Expansionist Ambitions, We Must Respond

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Unread 12.04.19, 02:47 PM
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When China Acts on Expansionist Ambitions, We Must Respond

On 12.04.19 12:32 PM posted by Rep. Jim Banks

President Donald Trumphas been tougher on China than any other president in my lifetime. Free fromthe baggage of Washington’s 40-year“normalization” consensus, the president can see China for what it is—aneconomically exploitative dictatorship that abuses human rights.

Thanks to Trump’sclear-sightedness, the executive branch is working to address the military,economic, and technological threats posed by China.

Most recently, on Nov.26, the president signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 into law.

The law mandates anannual State Department review of China’s treatment of Hong Kong. If Beijingaggressively intrudes in Hong Kong’s affairs, the United States will revokeHong Kong’s special trading status.

As the bill madeits way to the Oval Office, Hong Kong remained embroiled in pro-democracyprotests. The ongoing protests were sparked by proposed changes to Hong Kong’sextradition law. Under the proposal, anyone accused of a crime by the ChineseCommunist Party—American citizens included—could be extradited to mainlandChina.

Just last week, Hong Kong voters gave the protests a resounding stamp of approval. In district elections, pro-democracy candidates won nearly 80% of the seats.

Hong Kong’scitizenry wants and deserves democracy. The Hong Kong Human Rights andDemocracy Act affirms America’s commitment to societies repressed bydictatorships.

But our new law ismore than a reminder of America’s support for democracy. It’s the latest signof a reorientation in America’s foreign policy.

This is a shiftspurred by the president’s recognition that China is actively undermining ourposition as the world’s largest superpower. When China acts on its expansionistambitions and threatens its neighbors’ sovereignty, we mustrespond.

Americanexceptionalism always has justified U.S. efforts to cement the nation’s positionatop the world stage. But competition with China is different than previouscompetitions with economically productive countries such as, say, Germany orJapan.

Our competitionwith China more closely resembles our past challenge to the Soviet Union’sexpansionism during the Cold War. As in that contest, the United States now facesa communist regime that forces some of its citizens into labor camps and deniesthem basic freedoms.

Unfortunately, wedon’t have to rely on historical comparisons to outline life inside China’ssphere of influence. The people of Hong Kong currently are subject to thatfate—and it’s not pretty.

Hong Kong’s chief executiveis “elected” by a committee of 1,200 officials purposefully stacked inBeijing’s favor. A network of surveillance cameras crisscrosses the city, and residents’every moves are recorded by the watchful central government.

Pro-democracyprotesters at first evaded the cameras by covering their faces—until thegovernment invoked martial law and imposed a mask ban. Police have shotprotesters during the demonstrations.

The United Statesis the only country standing between China and the rest of the world. We have aresponsibility to alleviate the damage Beijing has done to Hong Kong. But ourgreater responsibility is to prevent the rest of the world from suffering theirsame fate.

The Trump administrationis negotiating a fairer trade deal with China, challenging China’s theft ofintellectual property, coming down hard on Chinese state-owned companies suchas Huawei and ZTE, and beefing up our military.

Unfortunately, adivided Congress has stymied the development of a comparable legislative response.All of America’s elected officials should be working together to address theChina threat.

Why hasn’t Congress passed a law banning federal retirement accounts from being invested in China? My bill, HR 2903, does just that.

The Department of Education is investigating foreign donations to U.S. universities, clamping down on a longtime influence scheme. Meanwhile, Congress has been slow to protect our universities from China. My bill, HR 1678, would require exchange students from adversarial countries to receive waivers before engaging in sensitive, national security-related academic research.

These two bills are just a small slice of the commonsense, China-facing legislation lost in the clamor of the 116th Congress.

The Hong Kong HumanRights and Democracy Act was closely aligned with the Trump administration’sforeign policy priorities and a big step forward for this Congress. But theChina threat isn’t going away and will continue to require a two-prongedapproach.

I hope my congressional colleagues accept the reality of 21st-century superpower competition. If they don’t, they will have failed America, Hong Kong, and the rest of the world.

The post When China Acts on Expansionist Ambitions, We Must Respond appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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