GOP China panel chair: US should focus on winning competition not just ‘managing’ it

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Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House select committee on China, argued Thursday that President Biden should double down on opposing Chinese business competition instead of thawing relations with the country.

Gallagher, who is resigning from Congress next week, wrote in a Foreign Affairs op-ed that the president’s China policy has been a “bright spot” but that “early gains” were squandered.

“The Biden team’s policy of ‘managing competition’ with Beijing risks emphasizing processes over outcomes, bilateral stability at the expense of global security, and diplomatic initiatives that aim for cooperation but generate only complacency,” he wrote, co-authoring the piece with former Trump administration deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger.

“The United States shouldn’t manage the competition with China; it should win it,” they wrote in the op-ed.

Policy centered on China has been a bipartisan priority in Congress, with Republicans generally more hawkish on competition than their Democratic colleagues. Gallagher said Biden should not be afraid to deteriorate relations with the country, including holding the Chinese government to account for sowing “global chaos” and increasing defense spending in the region.

“Washington will need to adopt rhetoric and policies that may feel uncomfortably confrontational but in fact are necessary to reestablish boundaries that Beijing and its acolytes are violating,” the duo wrote.

The outgoing lawmaker described a “new Cold War” with China, urging the president to take harsher action against the country and aggressively fight off Chinese influence abroad.

“No country should relish waging another cold war. Yet a cold war is already being waged against the United States by China’s leaders,” they said in the op-ed. “Rather than denying the existence of this struggle, Washington should own it and win it.”

“Like the original Cold War, the new cold war will not be won through half measures or timid rhetoric,” they continued. “Victory requires openly admitting that a totalitarian regime that commits genocide, fuels conflict, and threatens war will never be a reliable partner.”

Gallagher and Pottinger did include praise for Biden, however, specifically lauding his decision to keep some tariffs, put in place under former President Trump, on Chinese goods and efforts to invest in domestic microchip manufacturing. They also held up the defense production partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region as a major win in regional diplomacy.

But the pair said Biden fell short in his response to a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the country last year and over claims about COVID-19’s origins.

“Whether [Chinese President] Xi [Jinping] is acting opportunistically or according to a grand design — or, almost certainly, both — it is clear he sees advantage in stoking crises that he hopes will exhaust the United States and its allies,” they wrote.

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