Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Jan. 25 pushed Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to be forceful when dealing with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and use economic tools to challenge and decouple from the regime.
The four senators sent a letter (pdf) to Yellen shortly after the Senate voted 84-15 to confirm her as President Joe Biden’s treasury secretary.
“As a key advisor to President Biden on national security issues that involve the most powerful and sophisticated tools of economic statecraft, it is critical that you demonstrate to Congress that your decisions will be informed by a clear-eyed view of the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the United States,” the letter states.
“As a key advisor to President Biden on national security issues that involve the most powerful and sophisticated tools of economic statecraft, it is critical that you demonstrate to Congress that your decisions will be informed by a clear-eyed view of the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the United States.”
In her opening statement at the confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Yellen did not mention China or the CCP. When Democrats and Republicans questioned her about the issue, Yellen called China “our most important strategic competitor.”
“We need to take on China’s abusive unfair and illegal practices,” Yellen said. “China is undercutting American companies by dumping products, erecting trade barriers and giving illegal subsidies to corporations. It’s been stealing intellectual property and engaging in practices that give it an unfair technological advantage like forced technology transfers.”
Sasse asked Yellen if she regards “the Chinese Communist Party as an existential threat to the United States.”
“I regard China as our most important strategic competitor and feel it’s necessary to devise an administration-wide and multifaceted approach to address the threats that China causes and certainly we need to target illicit activities linked to theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, illegal efforts to acquire critical technologies and sensitive U.S. data and fentanyl traffic, among other things,” Yellen said.
Sasse then asked Yellen if she agrees that CCP Chairman Xi Jinping and his regime are guilty of genocide in Xinjiang. On the day prior to the inauguration, the Trump administration accused the CCP of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang.
“I think it’s guilty of horrendous human rights abuses,” Yellen said.
“I think it is important for us to recognize what has been happening in Xinjiang as a genocide,” Sasse said. “Chairman Xi’s regime is evil and they are raping and torturing Uyghur women.”