Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, distinguished members of this committee: thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
Please let us add our welcome to the newest additions to the rostrum. Senators Duckworth, Scott, and Ricketts, I and the entire State Department look forward to working with you.
Before we address our main topic, I just want to make one quick comment about the deadly earthquake in Turkiye and Syria. The numbers of those lost keep rising, and our hearts ache for the families and communities devastated by this tragedy.
I know that we all express our solidarity and are doing whatever we can for all who are suffering, and we will do everything we can to support the recovery efforts in the days and months ahead. It’s truly a tragic, tragic situation for all the people in the region.
Now, to the subject at-hand: the People’s Republic of China – the geopolitical challenge, quite frankly, that will test American diplomacy like few issues in recent memory.
And I associate myself with both of the comments of the Chairman and Ranking Member about the challenges we face.
The PRC is the only competitor with the intent and means to reshape the international order: a fact borne out in the PRC’s provocations in the South China Sea; its human rights abuses; its use of economic coercion; its threatening behavior against Taiwan; and, of course, what we have just witnessed and much more.
Last week, the American people saw the latest example of that reality, after the U.S. government detected, closely tracked, and shot down the PRC’s high-altitude surveillance balloon that had entered our territorial airspace, in clear violation of our sovereignty and international law.
The Biden-Harris Administration responded swiftly to protect Americans and safeguard against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information.
We made clear to PRC officials that the presence of this surveillance balloon was unacceptable, and along the way, we learned a thing or two, which you’ll hear in the classified briefing, about the PRC’s use of the balloon.
Last Friday, Secretary Blinken called Director Wang Yi to say that it would not be appropriate to visit Beijing at this time.
On Saturday, as you all know, at the President’s direction, the U.S. military successfully brought down the balloon off the east coast.
This lawful and deliberate action was achieved with no harm to civilians and with maximum ability to recover the payload. Again, more to say about this in the classified briefing. I look forward to joining you in that briefing to go over the full details, alongside my interagency colleagues.
Our response to this incident reaffirmed our core priorities: we will always act decisively to protect the American people. We will never hesitate to defend U.S. interests and the rules-based international order. We will confront the dangers posed by the PRC with resolve and keep demonstrating that violations of any country’s sovereignty are unacceptable.
This irresponsible act put on full display what we’ve long recognized – that the PRC has become more repressive at home and more aggressive abroad.
It reinforced the need for us to double-down on our strategy: “Invest, Align, Compete.”
Simply put, with legislation like the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are investing in the foundations of our strength on our shores.
We are also modernizing our work at the State Department, as the Chairman has implored us and the Ranking Member to do, to mobilize our embassies and resources to take on this challenge, particularly through the China House, which we stood up with your support in December.
We are aligning with likeminded allies and partners overseas: with the G7 and the EU – that tough work the Chairman talked about; with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, the Philippines; with India and countries on every continent.
We have made a concerted effort to share information that reinforces the scale of the threats posed by the PRC – and the necessity of unity in confronting them.
We don’t seek another Cold War. But we do ask everyone to play by the same set of rules.
Investing in ourselves and aligning with our partners strengthens our hands to compete with the PRC.
With authorities provided with bipartisan congressional support, we will keep pushing back against the PRC’s aggressive military, diplomatic, and economic practices.
We will continue to oppose Beijing’s unlawful acts in the South and East China Seas; hold accountable those involved in human rights violations in Tibet and Xianjiang; support the people of Hong Kong; and do everything possible to bring home unjustly detained Americans.
If I may, Mr. Chairman, I’d ask for just a few more seconds for my remarks.
We will continue to warn the PRC against providing military support to Russia; crack down on PRC entities engaged in harmful activities; and address the PRC’s transnational repression, including, as the Ranking Member mentioned, the “overseas police stations” designed to restrict the rights of Chinese diaspora.
We will continue to prevent the PRC’s exploitation of U.S. technology to enable its own military modernization.
We will continue, and I’ll be glad to answer questions, about working for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
We remain committed to our longstanding one China policy and oppose any unilateral changes to the cross-Strait status quo.
Our policy has not changed. What has changed is Beijing’s growing coercion. So we will keep assisting Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.
Through it all, we have, and will, maintain open lines of communication so we can responsibly manage the competition between our countries.
We do not seek conflict with the PRC. We believe in the power of diplomacy to prevent miscalculations that can lead to conflict.
We are ready to work together on areas where our cooperation is vital – from climate and public health to food security, narcotics, and more – anywhere it can enhance U.S. interests and global peace and security.
As President Biden said in his State of the Union, “Today, we’re in the strongest position in decades to compete with China or anyone else,” adding that “winning the competition with China should unite all of us.”
With your bipartisan support, with the resources approved by this committee, as the Chairman has challenged us on, we will stand unified in the face of this challenge. Thank you very much, Mr. Chaiman.