In the aftermath of the shootdown of the Chinese spy balloon, U.S. relations with Beijing are at their worst since President Richard Nixon opened up to China 50 years ago. There is bipartisan consensus condemning China‘s brutal human rights record, its aggression toward Taiwan, its trampling of democracy in Hong Kong, the militarization of the South China Sea, the theft of U.S. military secrets and intellectual property and, of course, Beijing‘s ubiquitous espionage operations.
Republicans and Democrats have found broad agreement on the need to counter and deter Chinese President Xi Jinping’s dictatorship, as well as in their shared recognition that the U.S. network of alliances in Asia and the Pacific will be of increasing importance to our national security.
Last month, the U.S. and the Philippines announced an agreement to expand the American military presence with access to four more bases on top of the five already available to U.S. forces. The Philippines is under pressure from China’s brazen attempts to encroach on its territorial integrity in the disputed South China Sea. As the two largest democratic economies in the world, the U.S. and Japan are working to secure supply chains from China.
And consider South Korea, which has been one of the closest U.S. allies since signing a mutual defense treaty in 1953. Bilateral relations have developed significantly based on a mutual commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through peace and reconciliation, as well as robust bilateral trade.
In addition to its world-class military, South Korea boasts the 10th-largest economy in the world.
The U.S. has smartly ramped up domestic production to reduce economic dependence on suppliers from China and other adversaries. U.S.-based companies, which had moved their operations overseas, have been encouraged to “reshore” operations back home. The U.S. is also turning to strategic partners and allies in “friend-shoring” arrangements to guarantee access to a range of raw and finished goods, especially high-tech items such as chips and hard drives, as well as products crucial to America’s energy and food security.
Countries with long and trusted economic relationships with the U.S., including South Korea, Australia and the U.K., have spent billions of dollars investing in the U.S., building factories and employing tens of thousands of Americans.
Trusted “friend-shore” partners can be vital to U.S. national security, especially in telecommunications. U.S. national security officials for years have been sounding alarm bells over the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which U.S. officials charge keeps “back doors” open for Chinese intelligence to gain access to users’ personal data. In November, the U.S. government banned approvals of new telecom equipment from Huawei and Shenzhen, China-based ZTE, citing national security risks.
To fill the vacuum, South Korea offers a secure option for obtaining world-class telecommunications services and mobile phones. The South Korean competitors Samsung and LG are already working on 6G telecommunications capabilities, and Samsung holds 30% of the U.S. mobile phone market. LG plans $11 billion in further U.S. investment by 2025.
Access to food is also a key national security issue. China is seeking more aggressively to buy U.S. farmland. Still, congressional leaders have emphasized that Chinese businesses seeking a role in the U.S. food supply chain pose a potential threat to our food security. Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican, recently introduced legislation that would block Chinese companies from buying American farmland.
But it’s more than just buying American farmland.
Chinese companies produce amino acids, which are key ingredients in most of the food we eat. Amino acids are vital components of human nutrition and animal feed, which farmers use to supplement the diet of their livestock, improve animal health, and reduce pollution in our air and water. American pork and poultry producers have understandably purchased government-subsidized Chinese amino acids because they are less expensive.
A recent study by the University of Wisconsin estimates that the demise of the U.S. amino acid industry due to unfairly subsidized Chinese imports would eliminate nearly 30,000 American jobs and reduce gross domestic product by $15 billion a year. Iowa Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have rightly called attention to China’s worrying influence over our food supply chain.
China’s military and economic expansion has made it critical for the U.S. to double down on commercial and strategic partnerships and to rethink critical supply chains vulnerable to Beijing’s insidious attacks. The Biden administration should continue to work with congressional leaders in both parties to enhance our trade relationships with our Asian allies and see what more can be done to bring home and harden America’s critical supply chains.
• Daniel N. Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of government service included high-level overseas and domestic positions at the CIA. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018. Follow him on Twitter @DanielHoffmanDC.