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US-China relationship needs marriage counseling, Utah lawmakers say

John Curtis

(Rick Bowmer, AP Photo, File)

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — The US-China relationship is broken and needs to be healed. It doesn’t need to be scrapped. It just needs some marriage counseling, according to a Utah congressman.

The US-China relationship

Utah Republican Reps. Chris Stewart and John Curtis joined Lee Lonsberry on KSL NewsRadio's Live Mic to talk about their time on the House Republican China Task Force, releasing a 141-page report after five months of work beginning in May and focusing on the U.S.-China relationship and the growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party to the United States.

“When we say China, we’re not talking about the Chinese people,” Curtis said. “I spent three years over in the Orient. We have great respect for the Chinese people and the Chinese culture. Our bone to pick is with the Communist Party of China. And it is clear they are not our friend, not a friend of the United States.”

The report yielded more than 400 recommendations, they said.

On the present U.S.-China relationship, Curtis said, “We’re not asking for a divorce. We just need some marriage counseling. We’re not talking about decoupling. We’re talking about fixing a broken relationship.

“We can’t pretend China doesn’t exist,” Curtis stressed. “It wouldn’t be in our best interest just to break everything off with them. We need this relationship, and we need it to be healthy.”

It wouldn’t be in our best interest just to break everything off with them. We need this relationship, and we need it to be healthy.

–Rep. John Curtis

Quantum computing

Lonsberry asked Stewart for his No. 1 policy recommendation from the task-force report.

“My gosh, that’s an impossible question. I’m sorry, it’s just very, very difficult for me to say the number one, so can I cheat and give you two or three?” Stewart asked.

Stewart said his specialty was in the international-security realm. One of the highest priorities, he said, is quantum computing.

“You have a winner, and everyone else is a loser. There is no second place in quantum computing,” said Stewart. “Whoever is the first to master this will own the realm in intelligence and encryption. It is a race we absolutely have to win.”

Stewart equated the race on quantum computing to be the first nation to develop a nuclear weapon during World War II.

“We are neck and neck on this with the Chinese,” he said. “It’s something that we have to get right.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart
Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart

Financing China

Stewart also highlighted a second policy recommendation with China: disentangling U.S. financial resources.

Stewart said that the Ant Group, which is an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group, has filed for initial public offerings (IPO) on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which may become the largest IPO in history.

“We have to ask ourselves is it smart for U.S. capital to be funneled through Hong Kong into Chinese companies,” he said.

He added that one of the critical recommendations of the task force report is to not only financially disentangle supply chains but pharmaceuticals as well as PPE (personal protective equipment).

Stewart warned that U.S. financing of Chinese companies “will be used against us.”

The Sleeping Giant rises

Lonsberry asked if the average everyday American should be worried about the rise of China.

“Absolutely,” Stewart said. “The good news is most Americans understand that now. A few years ago, they didn’t.”

Stewart said the Chinese Communist Party intends to dominate the United States and be the single most powerful nation in the world.

“[China is] trying to undermine the United States in every corner of the world and through every means possible,” Curtis said. “We [the task force] had four, five, six briefings per week, some of them classified for months. This was a deep dive.”

Curtis spoke about Chinese Dr. Li Wenliang who tried to warn his fellow doctors in a chat group about coronavirus in the early days of the outbreak in China at the end of December. He caught the virus from a patient and was in the hospital for three weeks before he died in February, according to the BBC.

Before his death in early February, Dr. Li was summed by police and told to sign a letter, saying he was “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order.”

The letter continued: “We solemnly warn you: If you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice — is that understood?”

Dr Li wrote: “Yes, I do.”

“We lost at least about a month that we could’ve been responding to this [pandemic] sooner had the Chinese government been more forthright on coming forward with the details,” Curtis said.

Lost bipartisanship

“We genuinely regret that the Democrats wouldn’t join us on this [task force]. They said they would right up until we formed a task force. . . . This needs to be a bipartisan task force. We cannot accomplish what we need to do if it’s not a bipartisan effort,” Curtis said.

“What’s the next step?” Lee asked.

“The next step is to start to implement our recommendations. I mentioned there were over 400,” said Curtis. “There’s lots of places to dig in. There are lots of places for Democrats and Republicans to come together.

“Certainly, regardless of the outcome of the election, we intend for this to be a blueprint for Congress and for the administration. We welcome, should the Democrats want to join us . . . we would be happy to dive into this to make the accommodations needed in the report so it could be 100 percent bipartisan. That has been our goal from the beginning. We really want to make sure that it’s not just a political exercise, but that it really moves the needle in the relationship with China,” Curtis said.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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