By Eva Fu
The United States is “asleep at the wheel” while communist China has grown into the “most dangerous foreign threat” that is now trying to displace the U.S.-based world order, according to former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, the Republican presidential hopeful described the Chinese Communist Party as “the greatest threat to American security and prosperity.”
“America is China’s number one target,” she said, pointing to a series of Chinese aggressions that include a Chinese fighter jet’s harassment of a U.S. aircraft, a Chinese naval ship that cut off U.S. destroyer in the Taiwan Strait, a Chinese spy balloon that flew over sensitive U.S. missile bases, and Beijing’s recently revealed secret eavesdropping base “in our own backyard on the fellow communist island of Cuba.”
“These provocations are not coincidences, or accidents. They are the purposeful actions of a communist dictatorship that is determined to expand its power and defeat America militarily and economically,” she said.
‘Asleep at the Wheel’
Haley took issue with the Biden administration’s engagement efforts in trying to prevent a conflict with China, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken making a high-profile trip to Beijing last week and the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and climate envoy John Kerry both poised to make similar visits soon.
“I don’t mind that Secretary Blinken went to China. We should always keep that communication going when we’re dealing with our enemies. It’s the way they’re doing it,” she said. “It’s showing that America’s running scared from China.”
She appeared sharply critical of Yellen’s recent emphasis to “work together where possible” with China. “The idea that Secretary Yellen said we should look for more ways to economically tie ourselves with China. That’s ludicrous,” she said. Nor, she said, is Kerry’s plans for a climate deal “acknowledging the priorities that we need to be dealing with.”
Haley cited photos of Blinken’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, showing Xi presiding at the head of a conference table with Blinken on his right side.
“That’s not showing American strength. American strength is when you tell countries what we expect of them. You’re not reactionary to how they act,” she said. “China’s scolding us because they can.”
In an apparent sign that Beijing is not “in any way worried about us,” China’s top leadership has refused repeated U.S. requests to restart military-level communications.
“That’s a big deal,” Haley said. “When a country’s Department of Defense doesn’t answer another country’s Department of Defense, that tells you everything you need to know, and that’s why Biden needs to stop pandering, and he needs to start being aggressive and strong, and how we deal with China.”
The Biden administration is “asleep at the wheel,” she said. “They’re looking more for appeasement than they are looking for strength, and that’s a mistake because that’s incredibly dangerous for America and our allies.”
Criticism of Trump’s China Approach
Haley also took aim at former President Donald Trump over his China policy records.
While crediting Trump for making “both parties take off their blinders” on China, Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in his administration, argued that the former president didn’t go far enough.
“President Trump was almost singularly focused on our trade relationship with China,” she said. “He was right about our trade abuses, it was and still is a critical issue. But Trump did too little about the rest of the Chinese threat.”
“He did not put us on a stronger military foothold in Asia. He did not stop the flow of American technology and investment into the Chinese military. He did not effectively rally our allies against the Chinese threat. Even the trade deal he signed came up short when China predictably failed to live up to its commitments.”
Haley added that Trump also showed “moral weakness” in “his zeal to befriend” the communist leader in China, by congratulating the regime’s 70 years of rule over the country.
“That sent a wrong message to the world,” she said. “Chinese communism must be condemned, never congratulated.”
She later described it as a matter of “moral clarity.”
“You don’t tell a dictator, the way they sit there and hold their hand down on their people is a good thing,” she said. “What we say matters. Countries pay attention, our enemies pay more attention. We have to be very responsible with those words.”
But if “China was militarily stronger when President Trump left office than when he entered,” Haley said, “Joe Biden’s record is much worse.”
She said that Biden has failed to address China’s role in the fentanyl crisis and curb the Chinese acquisition of U.S. property, “has refused to seriously investigate China’s cover-up of COVID origins.”
“His obsessive focus on climate issues naively plays into China’s negotiating hand, and the situation is getting worse,” she said, adding that the Blinken trip “was a gold-plated invitation for more Chinese aggression.”
“China’s scolded us, then President Xi pronounced it was a good meeting. He only says that when he gets a lot more than he gives. In fact, he gave us nothing,” Haley said. “Mark my words, Biden’s going to keep ignoring the Chinese threat. We’ll have wasted four more years.”