Congressman: Some US-China decoupling will be necessary no matter who wins election

After a chaotic first presidential debate lacking in substantive policy discussions, one Republican Congressman said he found a “silver lining.”

“I do sense an attempt by both candidates, including Joe Biden, to move to an increasingly hawkish position on China,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

In the debate on Tuesday night, Vice President Joe Biden bashed President Trump over his China trade policy and for not insisting on sending inspectors to China to assess the COVID-19 outbreak in its early stages. Trump hit back, blaming China for the pandemic and telling Biden “China ate your lunch.”

“Not withstanding the division we see in a presidential debate right now, I actually think we have an opportunity to rebuild a bipartisan foreign policy consensus around successfully confronting, competing with, and ultimately winning a competition with the Chinese communist party,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher is a member of the GOP China Task Force, which released a report on Wednesday outlining more than 400 policy recommendations to “counter threats post by the Chinese Communist Party.” While the task force is made up entirely of Republicans, the group says nearly two-thirds of its proposals have bipartisan support.

The recommendations include cracking down further on Chinese companies like Huawei, better preparing for a potential cyber attack, putting more money toward technology and science research, working toward a free trade agreement with Taiwan, and strengthening the United States’ medical and national security supply chains.

Separately, the House Intelligence Committee released a report on Wednesday claiming U.S. intelligence agencies are failing to counter threats from China.

Gallagher tweeted on Wednesday that this era of rising tensions between the U.S. and China is the beginning of “a New Cold War.” He told Yahoo Finance the situation with China is, in some ways, more difficult than the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

“Not only is China a far more sophisticated adversary, but our economies are so thoroughly intertwined,” said Gallagher.

The congressman said he believes certain industries — including rare earths, semiconductors, chip manufacturing, medical devices and pharmaceuticals — will eventually have to cut some ties with China.

“Some form of selective economic decoupling is inevitable, almost regardless of who occupies the White House come January 2021,” said Gallagher. “We're just going to have to disentangle our supply chains from Beijing and make sure that we can have a more reliable supply chain and bring some of that manufacturing either back to the United States or put it in countries that we trust more than communist China.”

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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