On May 6th, Secretary of State Pompeo accused China of covering up the COVID-19 outbreak, articulating intelligence indicating Beijing had told labs in China to destroy coronavirus samples in early January. Shortly thereafter, on May 15th, an official at China’s National Health Commission, Liu Dengfeng, deftly avoided denying the accusation.
After years of assuring the world it would not militarize its newly created islands in the South China Sea, China proceeded to do just that, The State Department, on July 13th, declared that, “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful.” This follows on the heels of a similar ruling, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016, that China chose to reject. Instead, it has continued to rapidly militarize the islands in pursuit of its “nine dash” line, infringing on the maritime rights of its neighbors.
China continues to harass Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, India, it’s greater South China Sea neighbors, and now Bhutan. In the case of Hong Kong, it has left in tatters the promises it made at the 1997 handover from 156 years of British Rule. That joint agreement allowed Hong Kong to retain its freedoms until at least 2047.
Under the cover of the world’s preoccupation with COVID, Chinese bellicosity has grown to the point where the US has had to send two aircraft carriers to keep sea-lanes open, and Australia is increasing its defense spending to push back against Chinese aggression. Alliances among Russia, Iran, and China are strengthening, and news articles from both the Left and the Right are being written about a new “Cold War.” All the while, the continued theft of American technology continues with devastating consequences.
I have been to China as a member of a Congressional Staff Delegation and spoken at length to leaders there. While it is crucial that we, the two largest economies in the world, learn to cooperate, it is essential that we do so – that we manage our conflicts – from a position of strength. At this moment, that means recognizing that China continues to undermine our values, our way of life, and our prosperity. We must strongly respond to these threats.