The US is “absolutely” engaged in a new Cold War with China, Florida Senator Rick Scott declared, accusing Beijing of plotting “world domination.” Meanwhile, Washington’s anti-China stance goes all the way to the White House.
Speaking to talk show host Hugh Hewitt on Friday, the Florida Republican slammed Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and its economic policies. Asked whether relations between the two superpowers had entered a “Cold War 2” phase, Scott replied “absolutely.”
“There’s no question about it,” he said. “They’re in for world domination. They take our jobs, they take our technology, they put people in prison for their religion.”
“Understand you have an enemy,” he continued. “They’re an adversary. It’s called Communist China. They’re not here to help us, all right?”
Scott called Beijing’s decision not to alert the World Health Organization about the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan until January “intentional,” and suggested a boycott of Chinese-made products until the east Asian superpower is held “accountable.”
The Floridian lawmaker, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, then called for the US to sanction China “for violating Hong Kong’s independence.” China, on the other hand, has accused the US of deliberately stoking protest in the semi-autonomous city-state.
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Scott’s anti-China broadsides are not the musings of a single Republican war-hawk. Instead, they represent a growing consensus in the US, with bills threatening Beijing with sanctions being introduced and a number of Republican saying they will sue the Chinese administration for its alleged role in the coronavirus pandemic. That’s as President Donald Trump has been raging at China throughout the pandemic, suggesting that Covid-19 was cooked up in a Chinese laboratory, and threatening to “cut off the whole relationship” with Beijing.
Trump’s outburst was likely hyperbolic, but the official line coming from the White House is equally uncompromising. In a policy document outlining its strategic approach to China, the White House this week revealed a “fundamental re-evaluation of how the United States understands and responds to the leaders of the world’s most populous country.”
Accusing China of “predatory economic practices” and “malign behaviors” that undermine national security, the document stated that the US is now engaged in “long-term strategic competition” with Beijing, and will orient its military toward this competition, and toward supporting its “regional allies and partners” in the Pacific. And all of this on top of the Pentagon prioritizing China as an adversary in 2018.
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Beijing’s responses, meanwhile, have been subtler. In Hong Kong, it has sought to portray the US as meddling in its affairs, and the conflict between protesters and mainland authorities as an internal matter. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, China has threatened to respond with “painful” countermeasures if Congress applies sanctions or files lawsuits. Globally, as the US continues to deal with more than a million active cases of Covid-19, China has gone on a charm offensive, shipping test kits and protective equipment to the worst-hit countries in Europe.
Militarily though, Beijing continues to pump money into hypersonic weapons and artificial intelligence research – two areas in which it has the edge on America. Its navy has also not been deterred by American patrols in the South China Sea, and continues to assert sovereignty over this hotly disputed tract of water.
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