Exclusive — Sen. Marco Rubio: ‘The Chinese Effort to Supplant America Has No Precedent’

Rubio Podium
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Breitbart News exclusively that China’s intense international push for global dominance is the biggest threat that America has ever faced, even more substantial than the one that the Soviet Union posed in the 20th century during the Cold War.

“The Chinese effort to supplant America has no precedent,” Rubio said in a lengthy phone interview on Tuesday evening. “The Soviet Union wanted to ideologically supplant us, so they were a geopolitical competitor primarily trying to overthrow governments and install communism. And they were a military competitor. But they were never an industrial or economic competitor, and they approached us sort of frontally and openly. The Chinese effort to supplant America is first deeply rooted in their view of history, that it is their rightful place to be the most powerful nation on earth, and that the last hundred years are an aberration, and so they’re going to set things right. Second, it’s based on frankly suckering the West and America into believing that they are a poor and developing country who just wants to be like us. We’ve made policy decisions for two decades or longer based on that assumption that’s now come back to bite us.”

Rubio last week released an explosive 80-page report on China’s push to supplant the United States as the world’s economic superpower. The report, titled “Made in China 2025: And the Future of American Industry,” walks through in great detail exactly what the Chinese are doing and how they are doing it with regard to attempting to replace the United States on the world stage.

“It’s the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken by any nation ever in every realm,” Rubio told Breitbart News about China’s push for worldwide power. “It’s in the fields of commerce, trade, technology. They use our immigration system against us. Academia. They influence media. They have learned how to use the American multinational corporate class to lobby policymakers towards pro-China decisions. For a long time, the assumption was that China was the place where cheap stuff would be made, but all the valuable stuff would be developed in America. But they’ve developed the Made in China 2025 plan, which is designed to actually supplant us as the place that makes all of the valuable and higher-end things. So it’s just—not only is it comprehensive, it’s overwhelming all of government, and I think we’ve been late to wake up to it. Frankly, we’re running out of time to address it.”

Rubio said in the interview that it is not too late to stop China’s rise, but the United States needs to act quickly.

“Two things—first we have to wake up and realize it,” Rubio said when asked about what America can do to stop China. “We have made tremendous strides in that regard. I would say that consensus that used to exist that once China became richer they would behave like us has finally been shattered. That doesn’t necessarily translate into non-resistance. You still have a significant number of multinational corporations who view China as a huge market for them and the decision-makers in those companies have five-year plans for themselves and for the company, who cares if 15 years from now they won’t exist because their Chinese partner will have put them out of business? They’re just trying to get five years of access to that huge market so they can retire with very valuable stockholdings. Just because they’re headquartered in America doesn’t mean they are American companies acting in the best interest of our nation. So that’s a problem, and those are a lot of the voices out there chirping about getting a trade deal quickly done because they just want to be able to go back the next few years and in short-term thinking make their companies profitable, even if it means in the long term it’s bad for the country. That remains a challenge, and obviously we have some policy places where we need to tighten up. But the Trump administration has done more than anybody else ever has, and because they’ve called attention to it, you see a growing number of countries beginning to pay attention to it as well.”

The effort by the Chinese to achieve global superpower status, and supplant the United States as the center of the world’s power, is multi-faceted and sophisticated, as Rubio details in the report his office released last week. Specifically, the Chinese are targeting essentially every American industry, from automotive manufacturing through energy production into technology development and more. It’s also a geopolitical command and control strategy whereby the Chinese have been building global influence across Asia through their One Belt One Road program, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. They have been building influence, too, throughout the Asian Pacific and as far away as the Western Hemisphere in the Americas in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America. They have also been cozying up to European powers and developing technology and business plans—particularly on the cutting edge of 5G.

“I think they would be more than happy if we became a country that just exported food to them and they did everything else,” Rubio said of China. “The reason why 5G is so critical is that a large number of the technologies and industry in the 21st century will be dependent on 5G: smart roads, driverless vehicles, the internet of things, additive manufacturing where you can make things through 3D printing. All of this is going to be 5G dependent, right? So, all of these great industries are going to be built around these activities. There will be a standard set for global 5G. Manufacturers and makers and providers of those products will have to meet that global standard. If the Chinese are the ones who set that standard, they will give preference to their companies as the ones who dominate in these fields, so not only will they dominate 5G but they will dominate all of the industries associated with it independent of 5G and what do they bring to bear?”

Rubio added that the Chinese government propping up its companies, backing them through the Communist Party of China’s resources, makes it near-impossible for western counterparts to compete, since the playing field is not level.

“They have telecommunications companies who they have dressed up as western-style corporations but are in fact extensions of the state who are able to go all over the world and provide very favorable deals in terms of cost,” Rubio said. “Why? Because they don’t have to make a profit—their government is backing them. Once they get these contracts, they also put the western firms out of business because they can’t compete with that. This is true in multiple fields by the way, construction and other fields too, and then once they put the competitors out of business except for those backed by the Chinese state, they then control all the industries that flow from it. That’s just one tip of the iceberg. Biomedical developments—they go to a university, they find cutting edge research, some of it funded by federal taxpayers, and then they go to the researcher and say ‘here’s a bunch of money to take your research project and bring it to China and do it here. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be able to test and do all sorts of things here that ethically you wouldn’t be able to do in the West.’ It’s stuff like that every single day that we need to address. There’s a lot that needs to be done.”

The Chinese have been particularly interested in various ports around the world. For instance, Breitbart News Pentagon correspondent Kristina Wong last year visited one such port city in Gwadar, Pakistan, that the Chinese have invested heavily in. But Rubio says it’s not just in Pakistan, or just in Asia, where the Chinese are expanding their influence and capacities in various ports and port cities around the globe. In Greece, Rubio notes, the Chinese have built up significant control over ports. It’s even in Panama, where the United States had once invested significant resources to build the Panama Canal before eventually handing the Panama Canal Zone over to Panama’s government, among many other places, Rubio says. Rubio adds that this port strategy allows the Chinese to cause major headaches for the U.S. Navy without actually building a navy of its own to compete and allows the People’s Republic of China to compete for influence on the high seas with the United States despite significantly less of a physical presence.

“Ports are a good place to start. In the post-World War II order, one of the reasons why you saw a dramatic global economic expansion is freedom of navigation,” Rubio said. “You don’t have to worry about pirates or countries saying you can’t come through these waters. We have international waters, and by and large it’s the United States Navy that has kept shipping lanes open for free trade and stuff. So the Chinese have a choice to make: Are we going to build a navy to rival that, or all these ships eventually have to go into port somewhere? So, now, what they’ve decided to do, smartly, rather than try to compete with us outside of Asia on control of waterways, they just try to control the ports of entry around the world for trade. So in the Panama Canal, they’ve made massive investments on both ends of the canal. I believe they own all the ports in Greece. What they do is they go to these countries, they make incredible financial offers, frankly in many cases they bribe government officials to get these deals, and then what happens is not only do they control the ports but they can begin denying or charging exorbitant prices to foreign shippers that want to use those ports and then favorable or no price at all to Chinese shippers that want to use those ports. To top it all off, many of these ports are being developed in a way where they can provide rotational naval visits for Chinese vessels as well, meaning they don’t have to build naval bases—they can just keep building these commercial ports that the Chinese Navy can use in order to have a blue water navy that can reach anywhere on the planet.”

In exchange for the Chinese investment in these ports, Rubio adds, China expects these countries to back its views on world geopolitical affairs. For instance, in the case of Panama, after Chinese investments in its infrastructure, Panama switched its official allegiance from Taiwan to China in terms of nation recognition—a major development that empowers the Chinese. Technically, the old government of mainland China—once a military dictatorship, now a democracy, called the Republic of China—has fallen back to the island of Taiwan ever since Mao Zedong’s communist revolution on the mainland. The split infuriates Beijing, which has tried to aggressively bring Taiwan to heel, but western powers particularly the Vatican under Pope John Paul II stood up to the Chinese communists on behalf of the free people in Taiwan for decades. The United States has always backed Taiwan somewhat, without official recognition, but the Vatican’s support has been slipping under Pope Francis—allowing for some of these Latin American nations like Panama and others to change their recognition without much consequence. But it’s not just Taiwan versus China recognition, either, Rubio says, adding that the Chinese essentially expect complete capitulation in return for their investment including voting for the Chinese agenda at the United Nations and helping push other nations into submission.

“They’ve done this in place after place after place,” Rubio said. “Not only do these investments in these ports get them port rights, and they’re bribing people in the process to get them, but they also expect as a result of the investments you will support them in international forums—vote for them at the U.N., switch your international recognition from Taiwan to China, and they’re doing it not just with ports by the way, they’ll show up in an impoverished country with a couple billion dollars and as a result demand your support at international forums. Panama has done it, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, those are in our own hemisphere—three countries in the last four years. Panama is interesting because not only did they get Panama to switch in return for some of the investments they put in there at the Panama Canal, they also told them you have to help us flip a couple more countries. Invariably, at least once or twice a year we will hear from some western hemisphere country that will say ‘you know, we’re getting a lot of pressure from the Chinese, they’re sending us a lot of money to do this and that and the other,’ and so yeah, absolutely they are using every tool in their toolbox to further their narrative around the world.”

Rubio wrote an op-ed published last week in the Washington Post calling for President Trump to hang tough and hold out for a good deal with China rather than rushing into just any deal on trade to slow or stop tariffs.

His argument, which goes up against much of Wall Street’s corporate class,which is pushing for a quick resolution between Washington and Beijing, is that this is not just about trade policy. Rubio says the bigger battle will define the geopolitical future of the planet for decades– potentially centuries to come, and he says President Trump should cede nothing as he negotiates with China. Rubio also says that Trump should trust U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over other advisers pushing for any kind of quick-fix deal, because he says Lighthizer understands the deeper implications at play here. He also believes that certain industries, including various high-tech fields, need extra protections on national security grounds so their Chinese counterparts in any deal cannot steal precious U.S. technology and innovation.

“First off, there are some critical industries to the U.S. that haven’t traditionally been viewed as national security industries that need to be now,” Rubio said. “I would say in the field of technology and pharmaceutical biomedicine in particular, those industries require additional national security scrutiny and protection. I don’t think there is any responsible way to do business with Chinese telecommunication and high technology companies. There just isn’t. Every one of them is an instrument of state espionage and insolence. That just can’t be part of these deals. The second is some level of fairness. I mean, ultimately, the perfect deal would be one in which their companies have to operate under the same conditions here that our companies have to operate under over there. Why—why—I don’t understand at this point with China’s geopolitical influence, the size of their economy, and everything else they’re doing—they just put a probe on the dark side of the moon—why should we continue to treat them like a developing country that should be allowed more favorable terms when compared to us? Why should an American company be forced to transfer technology and joint venture with Chinese companies when Chinese companies can come to America and do whatever they want? In what world is that normal? History is going to look back at that and say these people committed economic suicide with that. My biggest worry is that in an effort to get a deal and have it deliverable we end up signing a bad deal.”

Rubio concluded by noting that he has told President Trump that he is America’s last hope to get this right—and that if Trump fails, no future president will be able to succeed in the way of stopping China.

“I’ve told this directly to the president—he is our last chance we have to get this right,” Rubio said. “If he doesn’t get this right, no one else after him will. I know every one of these big corporate interests that want China to be a big part of their markets are putting a lot of pressure on the administration, particularly through Treasury, but Ambassador Lighthizer and others I hope he’ll listen to them because they understand what’s at stake here. This is not just about trade. This is about 21st century geopolitics and what the world is going to look like over the next 70 to 80 years if we get this wrong. It will define what the world looks like. It’s one of those fracture moments—one of those key points in history. We’ll look back one day and say, ‘that was the decision that defined the world today.’”


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