The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
Tension this past week in Alaska at the Biden administration’s first high-level meeting with China. China fired off lengthy insults at the U.S. The Biden Administration called it grandstanding. Scott Thuman reports when it comes to China, the Biden and Trump administrations share some broad agreement.
This past week, in Alaska, an attempted thaw to a frosty relationship, as President Biden’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with his Chinese counterpart.
How to deal with China is likely to be Biden’s greatest foreign challenge. The goal, a reset, but the policy not starting off terribly different than the last administration.
Because when it comes to Beijing --- this president and his predecessor, sound the same.
Trump: We believe in standing up to China, shutting down outsourcing, bringing back our factories and supply chains,
Biden: We’ll confront China’s economic abuses; counter its aggressive, coercive action; to push back on China’s attack on human rights, intellectual property, and global governance.
On Capitol Hill, we heard what both sides of the political aisle want the new president to do about China.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, is the senior republican on the house foreign affairs committee.
Scott: Why should the average person care?
McCaul: Well, because they are hurting America. We got to compete with China. There's no doubt about it. When they're stealing our innovation and our technology, our airplanes our military stuff, that becomes a big threat to the American people and the United States of America.
Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat, is chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Scott: Why should the average American be worried about China?
Warner: A huge percentage of our drugs right now are made in China. They can turn that on or turn that off. Rare earth minerals is another area, both in terms of technology development. That all of these things will affect Americans' lives in terms of their economic well-being. It could be, actually, even potentially affect their lives in terms of their physical well-being.”
The last four years though have been marked by an escalating trade war started by President Trump to punish China for everything from currency manipulation to spying to stealing America’s business secrets.
McCaul: They are our greatest competitor globally. And we have to recognize that.
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Warner: When we think about China's economic forces, we've never had post-World War II, a near peer competitor. The Soviet Union was a military threat, but it was never an economic threat.
China, is America’s third-largest trading partner. more than $558 billion dollars annually in goods changes hands -- with the U.S. doing an overwhelming majority of the buying, putting America at a disadvantage and pouring billions of dollars into the economy of its biggest rival.
On Capitol Hill there’s rare bipartisan agreement that President Trump may have been on to something.
Warner: One of the areas that I would give President Trump credit on is in the realm of cyber. He allowed America to take the gloves off a little bit and punch back against our adversaries.
Scott: How do you think the past administration did with China?
McCaul: Well, it's the first president in my lifetime to really stand up to China and the Communist Party.
Scott: If we don't wrangle China well enough, what is the risk?
McCaul: They have a plan. So, 100-year marathon, they're very clear about it. And 100-year marathon is a complete economic and military domination of the planet.
Warner: I remember when there was the Soviet block and the Western block, well China is in its own way, creating its own sphere of influence.
Like in the South China Sea where they’ve occupied disputed islands to control one of the world’s busiest shipping routes-- and build up their military footprint to the point that American warships are on constant patrol trying to keep china in check.
Lawmakers advise it’s not the time to throw away the last administration’s aims, but rather, build on them.
Scott: What's the first thing you do, if you're this administration, to set the tone with China?
McCaul: I would say, "Play by the rules, stop stealing our intellectual property, stop these cyber-attacks. Let's deescalate the tension, let's try to deescalate Taiwan, South China Sea. I want to start on a new page with you."
Scott: What does Washington's message to China need to be with this new administration?
Warner: The administration needs to be firm in its resolve. And the good thing is, Scott that, I think we have a chance on this issue, unlike almost any other issue that we face in this country, where there is virtual unanimous, bipartisan support.
Support that President Biden will need, because when it comes to China, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.
For Full Measure, I’m Scott Thuman.