WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations, Banking, and Foreign Relations Committees and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, today joined The Exchange on CNBC to discuss Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s upcoming trip to China, the need to approach the Chinese Communist Party from a position of strength, and the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations process.
Hagerty on the Biden Administration’s capitulation to China and Blinken’s upcoming visit: “I think the clearest thing to me is the fact that China—it was reported in the media—had demanded that the FBI not release its report on the spy balloon, and as everybody on this show recalls, they violated our sovereignty by sending a spy balloon floating over the United States, hovering over places like Oak Ridge National Lab in my state. They did it for days, and [if] the FBI report’s out—China’s demanded that it not be released—and the consequence would be no meeting with Secretary Blinken. I hate to see us kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party and accommodate this. It feels to me like this is a stretch for some type of photo-op diplomacy. It’s not serious when we’re not speaking from a position of strength. If we look at what China has done, in fact, take a look back in the previous Administration, the United States Trade Representative undertook a study to see the cost to America of the intellectual property theft, the forced technology transfer, the industrial espionage that China undertakes—[it is] roughly $600 billion a year. That’s the combined profits of the top 50 of the Fortune 500 combined. That’s almost the size of the Defense Department’s budget. China has been predatory in every respect, and we should be dealing with them from a position of strength and not kowtowing.”
Hagerty on the need to show strength against the CCP: “We’ve actually seen it [getting tough on China]. I served as the Ambassador to Japan in the last Administration. The proximity to China is obvious; that’s why we have the largest component of U.S. Military Station anywhere in the world in Japan. It’s a very tough neighborhood. China is right there. They move through the South China Sea [and] the East China Sea. They harass. They create a lot of challenges. When we stand tough militarily, China takes notice of that. I saw that happen in the previous Administration. I saw the Chinese back out of the Senkaku Islands and back out of the South China Sea. That aggressive behavior responds to power and strength. When you saw a United States Trade Representative go over and negotiate the phase one trade deal with China, that was tough talk. That was tough action, and we saw China respond. We need to continue to maintain that type of pressure. And I hear the Biden Administration talking in ways that I would agree with, but I’d like to see them follow up with more action.”
Hagerty on Blinken visiting China after reports of a Chinese Spy Facility in Cuba: “These are deep, deep concerns, and I don’t understand why, if diplomacy was your real aim, you would be doing this right now. Frankly, if you’re trying to advocate America’s interest, a strong American interest, I think you would take exactly the posture that you’re suggesting. You’d halt this. You would demand that the Chinese stop this behavior. The proximity of Cuba to the United States, as we know, is roughly a hundred miles, and China’s setting up a spy station there [is] just wholly unacceptable. Again, the [Chinese] spy balloon? Release the report. Demonstrate to the world that we’re not going to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party. That hasn’t happened. So, I’d like to see a little bit of a shift in our posture there.”
Hagerty on the Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations process: “We’re working through that process right now. I’ve met with my counterpart on the [Senate Appropriations] Committee that has to do with Financial Services and General Government. I’m the Ranking Member on that [FSGG] Subcommittee, and I just met with our Ranking Member, [Senator] Susan Collins, on the overall Appropriations Committee. We’re working through the process right now. Our goal has been to go back to what is known as regular order, where we actually work through each normal Committee process. We have the opportunity to amend, to debate, and create input. What I don’t want to see is a train wreck like we’ve seen in the past, where everything gets pushed off until the end. You wind up in the waning days of December, passing an omnibus bill, as it’s called, with everything piled together on a 1000 page bill. Everything that we can do to avoid that, I think we’re going to undertake that.”