President Trump’s 2020 trade agreement was the first real attempt to hold China accountable for its trade abuses. Following the U.S. Trade Representative’s recent report on China’s non-compliance with the "Phase One" obligations, it is shocking to see headlines criticizing the former Republican president who struck the deal instead of asking the real question: "China just reneged on an official United States trade deal, what are Democrats in control going to do about it?" The Left seems more focused on attacking their domestic rivals than fending off attacks from our foreign ones.
We cannot let China, once again, get away with ignoring obligations to the rest of the world. The United States foreign policy establishment is failing because they continue to treat China as a good-faith actor.
Some of the same people celebrating China defaulting on the 2020 trade agreement are saying we can depend on China to abide by international environmental agreements.
China employs repeated bait and switch engagements with foreign nations to increase China’s advantage and fund China’s alternate vision of world order.
China is willing to defy any rule. Our rules. Rules that China does not believe in, safeguarded by a system it seeks to replace.
As the second-largest economy, China understands the rest of the world is dependent on them and they are abusing this position for global economic and political supremacy. Companies cannot boycott China if that means losing to their competition that does not.
The world ignores China’s theft of intellectual property, their economic invasion of the developing world through the Belt and Road Initiative, and their domestic human rights abuses because of the addiction to their cheap goods made by slave labor.
China is willing to sacrifice the interests of the rest of the world to support its own. The world needs to recognize that and understand the cost of Chinese goods is much more than what is on the price tag.
The costs are environmental degradation as China pillages rare-earth minerals from Congo, fills our air with emissions from its uncompliant power plants, and overfishes the oceans off Ecuador, Mauritius, and South Africa. The costs are their enslavement of the Uyghurs and theft of our intellectual property to destroy our competitive advantage. The costs are their dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong and the steady drumbeats of war against Taiwan.
It is time to act. The U.S. must use its power to safeguard strategic supply chains. It will require alliances with freedom-loving nations, starting with those in Asia and beyond. These are already developing like with the Quad and AUKUS.
China’s neighbors are wise to China’s true intent and at the greatest risk of their predatory plan. They need protection and options.
The USTR’s report that China is again disregarding international agreements, is another alarm bell in a long list of tolls.
There are two competing visions in the world in the 21st century: China’s and America’s. This is the new fight of our generation. We will win, but we must be united, as a country, in facing this threat and take action. We need to get to it.
Republican Bill Cassidy, M.D. represents Louisiana in the United States Senate.