Our China Policy Must Be Based on Strength
After the recent cyberattacks against the U.S. government, China needs to be taken to task -- not the White House.
On Monday, I called on President Obama to cancel the upcoming state visit by China to the United States. The pomp and circumstance that comes with an official state visit should be reserved for special friends and allies of our country.
On the president's watch, we have seen China become more aggressive with the United States. We’ve seen more cyberattacks against our country, a dangerous militarization of the South China Sea, and a disturbing crackdown on Christians and human rights activists.
Yet the president plans to reward China with an official state visit and lavish its leader with White House honors.
These planned honors for China are the disturbing culmination of President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s many years of empty threats and symbolic summits.
Hillary Clinton claims to have made great strides in advancing American interests in the cyber realm during her tenure as secretary of state, yet we have seen increasingly brazen attacks against the United States. President Obama has refused to name China as the perpetrator of the cyberattack on the Office of Personnel Management, which resulted in the theft of over 20 million Americans’ personal information. We need China to know that any cyberattack on America will be met with a fast and certain response.
Rather than allowing strategic competitors to undermine America, we need to stand up for our economic and national interests and ensure Asia is prosperous, peaceful, and free.
That optimistic vision will guide a Walker administration’s strategy for China and the region.
First, we need to support free trade and exert real economic leadership in Asia.
As I have said for months, America must be the economic leader in the region. We need a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that puts American workers first and levels the playing field. A deal that genuinely opens markets and ensures high standards for an area covering almost 40 percent of the world’s GDP has huge potential to benefit Americans.
China is one of our most important trading partners. But we cannot allow it, or any other nation, a free pass on unfair trade practices and the theft of our intellectual property. These are not insurmountable issues, and the more we can work together through difficult issues, the more people from both countries will benefit.
Second, we must rebuild our military strength in Asia. Defense sequestration must end, and our defense budget must return, at a minimum, to the level recommended by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, so we can once again field a military that is fully equipped to keep the peace. We also need a vigorous shipbuilding program that puts Americans to work in service of our safety.
Additionally we also need to work more closely with our allies in the region. I have spoken with our Japanese, Australian, and South Korean allies, and they have emphasized the importance of supporting our partners as they modernize their militaries so they can better defend themselves.
Third, we must stand up for human rights in China. Here again, the Obama-Clinton worldview abandons our American values. On Secretary Clinton’s first trip to China, she announced that human rights shouldn’t “interfere” with other bilateral issues. The Chinese saw weakness in Clinton’s posture, and—no surprise—cracked down on human rights.
As I heard when I met with human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng in June, the future of China is with its brave citizens who are fighting for freedom of speech, working against forced abortion policies, and protecting the country’s 100 million Christians from religious persecution.
These three steps will help set the U.S. and Asia on the path to a prosperous, peaceful, and free future. The U.S.-China economic relationship has built strong ties between our governments, businesses, and people. Though we must not shy from tackling thorny problems, these ties can continue to flourish, benefiting both countries.
But there’s work to be done before we convey upon China the honor of a state visit. A strong leader understands these truths. Obama and Clinton do not, but America’s next president must.
Scott Walker is the governor of Wisconsin and a candidate for president.