Our national security rests on an economic foundation, and predatory economic practices by China have undermined that foundation for years — leaving Hoosiers and all Americans dangerously exposed.
China’s practices are uniquely disturbing in their scope, severity and consequence. If left unaddressed, these predatory practices will further endanger not only the prosperity of Americans but also our security.
That is why I have led bipartisan efforts in Washington to require this and future administrations to produce a National Economic Security Strategy. Beijing has a strategy. We should have one too.
China’s strategy includes forced technology transfers, theft of intellectual property, denial of access of American companies to Chinese markets, and government-subsidized acquisition and investment in the United States.
China’s theft of intellectual property has been particularly damaging to American companies — including those here in Indiana. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in June China’s theft of intellectual property represents “an unprecedented level of larceny.”
In some key defense capabilities, China now fields military capabilities that are as advanced as U.S. capabilities. That reduces our ability to defend Americans and our interests and makes costly military conflict more likely. It also puts our troops at greater risk. As someone who served in the Marine Corps, I find that unacceptable.
As I talk with fellow Hoosiers, many appreciate President Trump’s focus on China’s economic aggression, as well as his desire to do something about it. However, many of us worry about the impact of tariffs and a trade war on our communities, businesses and families, and we wonder if there is a good plan going forward.
If we are going to wage an effective campaign against Beijing’s economic aggression, we will need partners and allies to apply maximum multilateral pressure on China. At a minimum, this coalition should include our European, Canadian and Japanese allies and trading partners who have also suffered from Beijing’s economic aggression.
The problem is the current U.S. trade strategy has alienated the exact partners and allies we will need in order to coerce Beijing to change course.
We certainly have trade concerns with some of our allies, but they pale in comparison to the challenges we confront from China. We should not pretend these issues with countries like Canada are even in the same universe as the threat Beijing’s predatory economic practices pose to our core national security interests. When federal policies imply Canada is a national security threat using a provision of an antiquated trade law previously used against Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, we know there is a problem.
The administration’s potential decision to expand the application of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to automobiles and auto parts remains concerning. This step would deal a body blow to Indiana’s economy, where more than 13,000 Hoosiers are directly employed by Japanese auto companies. Plus, if the administration takes this step, it would further alienate the allies we will need to address a host of national security challenges that we can only solve working with international partners.
The president’s statement on July 25 seeking to establish a bilateral trade dialogue with the European Union represents a positive step. I look forward to working with the administration on tangible follow-up actions.
Since arriving in the Senate, rather than simply describing problems and criticizing the approaches of others, I have tried to play a constructive role. My bipartisan National Economic Security Strategy Act of 2018 (S.2757) would create a statutory requirement for this administration and future administrations to periodically produce and submit to Congress a National Economic Security Strategy.
The federal government has an appropriately limited — but important — role in facilitating the ability of the United States to compete successfully in the international economy that is so vital to our prosperity and security.
We want that federal role to be as effective, focused and strategic as possible — not reflexive, uncoordinated, ad hoc or counter-productive.
The submission of such a strategy to Congress would help the administration build the national consensus required for an effective and sustainable national response to China’s predatory economic practices.
I applaud the Trump administration for highlighting China’s economic aggression and the need to respond. Now, it is time to develop and implement a National Economic Security Strategy that focuses on China’s predatory economic practices and protects the prosperity and security of Americans.
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