May 26 2021
The United States is at a crossroads in our strategy to counter the threat posed by Communist China.
And it is vital that we place ourselves in a position to compete with China, to be sure. But it is equally important that we consider just what kind of game we are playing, and just what kind of competitor we want to be.
The bill before us, the Endless Frontier Act, aims to counter China primarily by boosting technology research and development – no doubt important components of a strategy to counter China.
But unfortunately, it goes about it in the exact wrong way – trying to beat China at its own game, and taking us across a frontier we ought not traverse.
In fact, it models some of China’s own bad strategies, strategies that are in direct opposition to our American principles and way of life.
Let’s consider some of the hallmarks of Communist China. In every aspect, the Chinese regime grows and centralizes the power of government, at the expense of free citizens and free markets… an experiment that has expanded into dangerous, even deadly, territory.
Take China’s record on human rights.
China has gone so far as to enslave and subject the Tibetan and Uyghur people to forced labor, reeducation, and torture.
Under China’s infamous one-child policy, it has brutally and barbarically forced families to undergo IUD implantation, sterilization, and abortion.
It has a long, dark history of religious persecution and silencing dissidents. Under President Xi Jinping, Chinese authorities have detained millions of Muslims and arrested thousands of Christians. They’ve seized control of Tibetan monasteries, and closed or demolished dozens of Buddhist and Taoist temples. They’ve even practiced forced organ harvesting of members of the Falun Gong religion.
Or consider China’s actions in the realm of foreign policy.
In true imperialist form, it is pushing its Belt and Road initiative – a massive, predatory infrastructure project stretching from East Asia to Europe, designed to massively expand its coercive economic and political influence.
It has spread Confucius Institutes across American college campuses, entangling American universities with Chinese state policies and turning them into megaphones for Chinese propaganda.
In multilateral organizations, China continuously undermines longstanding democratic norms, instituting policies that instead benefit the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian values.
And it has held a tight, cronyist, command-and control grip over its economy – heavily subsidizing industries, and picking winners and losers.
While China has picked up some steam through these actions, we cannot ignore that whatever momentum it has acquired is of dubious success and sustainability in the long run.
China – under the control of the Communist Party – has, in reality, one of the least efficient economies in the world. In terms of GDP per capita, it is at the bottom of the barrel, right next to Russia, Cuba, and Kazakhstan.
It turns out that political corruption and state-owned enterprises come with financial deadweight, too. The financial cost of enslaving, sterilizing, and brainwashing 12.8 million Uyghurs and other oppressed groups is steep, even as the human cost of this moral depravity is far worse and far steeper.
Killing future generations’ potential through abortion is also as foolish as it is inhumane. As a result of its decades-long abortion and one-child or two-child policies, China is on track to lose a third of its workforce and age faster than any society in history.
The ratio of workers to retirees in China, which is currently 8-to-1, is projected to whittle down to 2-to-1 in the coming decades. With only two employees for every retiree, China’s pension system – which is already showing signs of buckling – will inevitably crack under pressure.
It’s true that China is aggressive and big, but it is not iron-clad in its position of global strength. As its population ages more and more, and more of its land falls into wasted, polluted squalor, it will have neither the inhabitants nor the resources to continue on its current course.
Mr./Madam President, there is nothing about China’s principles or trajectory that we should emulate in the slightest.
In nearly every way, the Chinese regime consolidates power to trample the rights of individual men and women and quash free expression, the free exercise of religion, and free enterprise.
Nothing could be more antithetical to the American system of government and way of life. In fact, it is just the opposite formula that has made us the world’s strongest and most prosperous nation.
The Founders gave us a Constitution precisely to disperse and limit the power of the federal government, and to keep government power as close and accountable to the people as possible.
And they gave us a Bill of Rights precisely to safeguard individual liberty and protect our most cherished freedoms – empowering ordinary men and women to preach and live out their deepest beliefs in the public square; to gather and speak freely; to bear arms; and to petition the government in redress of grievances.
The beauty of this design is that it opens up the space for two separate but mutually enforcing institutions that are at the heart of our vision of freedom, and key to our success: a free enterprise economy and a voluntary civil society.
These systems work in tandem for everyone, because they impel everyone to work together – harnessing individuals’ self-interest to the common good of the community, and ultimately the nation.
It is the free-market system that prizes human ingenuity, rewarding people for putting their God-given talents and their own exertions in the service of their neighbors. The free market impels us to ask, what problems need to be solved? What can I do to improve other people’s lives?
It’s the free market that created the wealth that liberated millions of American families from subsistence farming, opening up opportunities for the pursuit of happiness never known before or since in government-directed economies.
In America, it’s also been understood that the family is the building block of society, worthy of protecting and empowering. And it has been the cooperation between families, churches, neighborhoods, clubs, and voluntary associations that have knit together the American social fabric and made it strong.
In other words, the beauty of the American system is opening up the space for everyday citizens to build creative, productive, meaningful and happy lives together.
These are the hallmarks of the American system of government – and the things we ought to preserve going forward.
Unfortunately, the bill before us attempts not to double down on our own successes, but to pivot to the so-called “successes” of China by federally hijacking research and development, and crowding out the private incentives that bring successful ideas to market.
It is a flawed, foolish strategy.
First, in our free and democratic society, we will never marshall the will to ramp up taxes and spend China into the ground; nor should we try.
Second, history has proven time and time again that centralized planning is a losing game.
The U.S. has already tried the industrial policy experiment, picking winners and losers and causing great harm. In fact, that’s exactly how we’ve ended up with terrible protectionist policies like trade wars and the Jones Act.
The strategy of the Endless Frontier Act, however, is rooted in the mistaken belief that our markets have failed us, and the only means by which we can jumpstart our economy and create innovation is by trusting in federal government bureaucrats.
So what would it do in reality?
It would green-light $54 billion in spending beyond our budget caps, with additional authorizations of $190 billion.
And it would put this massive amount of money towards more government bureaucracy, producing a system where the government picks winners and losers of industry, creating artificial demand for inefficient technologies, crowding out the good research and development that the private sector already does, and increasing our manufacturing costs.
If we are to compete with China and maintain our leadership in technology, what instead should be our path forward?
We ought to do what America has always done best.
Instead of chilling innovation and competition, we ought to decentralize power and champion trust in the private sector.
We ought to decrease regulation, not invest in regulatory bodies.
We ought to simplify and cut taxes, not off-shore our jobs.
We ought to use our critical minerals, not let them languish.
We ought to partner with our allies, not restrict fair trade.
We ought to harvest timber, not organs.
We ought to defend families, not diminish them.
We ought to encourage entrepreneurship, not crony capitalism.
We ought to strengthen markets, not government.
Two paths lie before us, Mr./Madam President. I urge my colleagues to choose the better part, and reject this bill.
I yield the floor.