Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) reiterated his concerns about President Joe Biden’s nominee for Ambassador to the United Nations over comments she made praising the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2019.
Cruz joined three of his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to vote against advancing Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s nomination to the full Senate floor. In a speech during a committee hearing, he said that was concerned about Thomas-Greenfield’s pro-Beijing advocacy.
“China, I believe, poses the single greatest geopolitical threat to the United States over the next century,” Cruz said. “We need a UN ambassador who will stand up to China, to China’s pervasive influence at the United Nations. And given her record, I have no confidence that this nominee would do so.”
The Lone Star State senator has long been taking a hard stance against the communist regime and has been calling for a reassessment of the U.S.-China relationship in the wake of the CCP’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Thomas-Greenfield’s confirmation hearing, Cruz and other panel members pressed her over her comments she made in 2019 at a Confucius Institute paid for by Beijing. At that 2019 event, she spoke positively about China, telling the audience that the country has invested in Africa in a number of ways, including railway projects and other infrastructure development.
“Ultimately, the future is about Africa and its people. The U.S. should be focused on building a strong partnership with Africa which is based on shared values of peace, prosperity, sustained economic growth and development, and a firm commitment to good governance, gender equity, and the rule of law. I see no reason why China cannot share in those values. In fact, China is in a unique position to spread these ideals given its strong footprint on the continent,” she said.
Thomas-Greenfield told senators that she has a long track record of acknowledging the regime’s malign activities and expressed regret for accepting the invitation to speak at the Savannah State University Confucius Institute.
Cruz took issue with how Thomas-Greenfield did not acknowledge any of the communist government’s malign activities and human rights abuses. He also raised concerns that the nominee’s comments were not “one-off.”
“I would also note that her speech was not a one-off. I put out a whole series of remarks that Ms. Thomas-Greenfield has made over the decades, repeatedly apologizing for China, saying we’re not competing with China, which she said multiple times,” Cruz said. “And at other times she says that she viewed her role as, ‘to ensure that they [African leaders] have the capacity to strike and negotiate better deals with the Chinese.’”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) defended Thomas-Greenfield during his opening remarks on the committee floor.
“While she acknowledged regret over the speech, particularly given the involvement of the Confucius Institute, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has a long history of expressed opposition to China’s use of debt-trap tactics in Africa and elsewhere, and its increasingly malign presence in world governance bodies. She has also spoken plainly about China’s authoritarian ambitions and open hostility to universal human rights and democratic values, and has committed to confronting them every step of the way, including at the United Nations,” Menedez said.
Thomas-Greenfield’s nomination was ultimately approved in an 18–4 vote and has moved to the full Senate floor for consideration.
This comes on the same day Cruz placed a hold on the confirmation of Biden’s pick for Commerce secretary, Gov. Gina Raimondo, in an attempt to pressure the White House and Raimondo to commit to keeping China-based company Huawei on a restricted trade list.
While the move would not cancel the floor vote, is likely to delay it by up to 30 hours.
“I’ll lift the hold when the Biden admin commits to keep the massive Chinese Communist Party spy operation Huawei on the Entity List,” Cruz said in a statement on Twitter.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.