US should counter China's aggression with comprehensive strategy: Romney

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America's response to Chinese aggression so far has been ad hoc, short-term and piecemeal, a top US Senator and former Republican presidential nominee has said, adding the US needs to tie up with other like-minded countries to meet this challenge.

"The forms of China's aggression are widely understood by members of the administration, members of Congress, and foreign affairs experts on both sides of the aisle. But to date, our national response has been ad hoc, short term, or piecemeal. It is past time for us to construct a comprehensive strategy to meet the challenge of an ambitious and increasingly hostile China," Mitt Romney said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

In his maiden floor speech, the junior senator from Utah said it is possible that China might someday experience a discontinuity or another uprising that will change its course.

"But barring that, because China's population is almost four times our size, it's economy should eventually dwarf ours. And because economic advantage enables military advantage, China's military could eclipse our own. It is possible that freedom itself would be in jeopardy, he said.

"If we fail to act now, that possibility may become reality. We have two imperatives: first, strengthen ourselves and second, stop China's predation, he added.

In the long term, he noted, for a country like US with a relatively small population to rival a country like China with its much larger population, the US must join its economic and military might with that of other free nations.

Alliances are absolutely essential to America's security to our future. I can't state that more plainly. Our alliances are invaluable to us and to the cause of freedom. We should strengthen our alliances, not dismiss or begrudge them. We should enhance our trade with allies, not disrupt it, and coordinate all the more closely our security and defense, Romney said.

It is in the United States' most vital interest to see a strong NATO, a strong Europe, stronger ties with the free nations of Asia and the subcontinent, and with every free country, he asserted. We need to hold our friends closer, not neglect them or drive them away. These alliances are a key advantage we have over China: America has many friends, China has very few, he said.

The United States, he said, has another advantage: innovation. The country that leads in innovation will lead in prosperity. China knows this as well as we do. After all, it began its economic rise by stealing US technologies, he alleged.

Today, China has become an impressive innovator itself. Last year, China received almost as many global patents as did the United States. It is far ahead of us in 5G and it is on track to surpass us in artificial intelligence, and AI is a general purpose technology that will have systemic impact on the world, he said.

Romney said that it is critical that US protects the technology that it has and propel the innovation it will need. Noting that one dimension of American innovation is often underestimated, he said America is a magnet for the world's best and the brightest.

They want to come here, not China. Over half of the 25 most valuable high-tech companies in the US were founded by immigrants or their children. It is very much in our national interest to keep attracting the world's best minds to America, he said.

In addition to strengthening America, Romney said the US must confront China's aggression. China has focused its ambition most acutely on trade. Flouting global rules and conventions, China has corrupted the free market. China views companies in countries that play by the rules as the proverbial fish in a barrel. And too often we just ignore China's aggression, genuflecting before the throne of free markets. But you don't have a free market if the biggest player is allowed to cheat, he alleged.

China's cheating takes many forms, he said. For many years, it held down the value of its currency to make its products artificially inexpensive, intending to drive competitors from other countries out of business, when it could then raise prices. More recently, China has debased its currency to partially compensate for tariffs imposed on its goods.

Today, so called industrial policy is the Chinese primary weapon of choice, he said. Profitability, return on capital, and repayment of debt are mostly irrelevant in such state-owned enterprises, he said and alleged that China's industrial policies are killing and debilitating businesses throughout the world.

Romney said as US confronts China's aggression, it must also endeavour to convince it to turn back from the road of economic, military, and geopolitical conflict upon which it has embarked. Joining the other nations of the world in genuinely fair and free trade and in respect for the sovereignty of its trading partners and neighbours is very much in China's, America's, and the world's interest.

China is not yet a geopolitical foe, but its actions over the last several years have brought it right up to the line of being so, he said.

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