WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) earlier tonight participated in the first hearing of the new House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, which he was appointed to earlier this year to work in a bipartisan fashion to address geopolitical, economic, diplomatic, and military threats and challenges between the two global superpowers.
VIDEO of the hearing and testimony can be found here.
A RUSH TRANSCRIPT of the Congressman’s remarks and line of questioning for the witnesses is below:
REP. TORRES: Following the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama famously declared the end of history. In the 20th century, the U.S. had high hopes that the world would bring freedom to China. Today, in the 21st century, instead of hoping that the world will bring freedom to China, the U.S. fears that the CCP will bring a totalitarian police state to the world, and will do so to an extent that not even George Orwell himself could have imagined. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the CCP has become more totalitarian and more ethno-nationalist. The totalitarian turn and ethno-nationalist ethos of the CCP has led to a genocide against Uyghur Muslims and heightened aggression against Taiwan. Mr. Bollinger, I have a deceptively simple question. Has Chairman Xi fundamentally changed the CCP or has he simply revealed the CCP what it truly is and has always been?
MR. MATTHEW POTTINGER, former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor: Congressman, that’s a great question. I think it’s more of the latter. That there have been aims that have been consistent, even though they’ve sometimes been kept quiet by the CCP for decades. If you look at a couple of recent books, Frank Dikötter has a new book, “China after Mao”, that goes into a lot of those documents. Rush Doshi, who is currently working in the Biden Administration, wrote a book called “The Long Game” that explores some of that, but leadership matters in any system, including in a totalitarian dictatorship and Xi Jinping is putting his personal stamp on this on this system. He’s accelerating the goals that they’ve been trying to reach.
REP. TORRES: I have a question about the mindset of Chairman Xi. Does Chairman Xi know that his consolidation of power likely comes out of cost to economic growth as evidenced by the zero COVID policy and, if he knows, does he even care? It seems like he prioritizes ethno-nationalism and totalitarianism even at the expense of economic growth.
POTTINGER: One of the departures of President Xi from his predecessors like dung Deng Xiaoping is that he clearly does not rank economic growth and the growth of prosperity first. It’s a distant second at best to centralizing political control and grabbing hold of what he calls the tools of dictatorship. That’s the line he uses repeatedly. It means controlling all aspects of the society and the politics, the economy, the ideology, and information.
REP. TORRES: Even though China remains intent on overtaking the United States as the world’s largest economy, the CCP is confronting a perfect storm, the debt crisis, a demographic crisis, and a declining productivity crisis. Can you think of a single country in history that has achieved sustainable economic growth in the face of productivity decline, population decline, and a prohibitive debt burden? And I’ll start with you, Mr. Pottinger.
POTTINGER: Not that I am aware of.
TORRES: Mr. McMcaster, can you think of one?
LT. GEN. (RET). H.R. McMASTER, former U.S. National Security Advisor: Not that I’m aware of, Congressman.
REP. TORRES: Mr. Scott Paul?
SCOTT PAUL, President, Alliance for American Manufacturing: One doesn’t come to mind, Congressman.
REP. TORRES: So, given the lack of historical precedent, Mr. Pottinger, are you skeptical that China will surpass the United States?
POTTINGER: Quite skeptical that they will. The real issue is how much damage can they do to their own people and to the rest of the world before the moment of truth arrives for their system?
REP. TORRES: Mr. McMaster?
McMASTER: I’m optimistic in terms of our ability to prevail if we stop underwriting our own demise.
REP. TORRES: Mr. Paul?
PAUL: I think it’s an open question. China is starting to choose its friends differently. And if its friends are Russia and Iran, then we have larger issues we can do about it.
REP. TORRES: During World War II, we saw sentiment against Japanese government metastasize into discrimination against Japanese Americans, resulting in one of the darkest moments in American history – the mass internment of Japanese Americans. In our bipartisan efforts to confront the real challenge of the CCP, we must never allow sentiment against the CCP to become a pretext for discrimination against Chinese Americans. Calling into question the loyalty of Chinese Americans, as a member of Congress recently did, is as dangerous as it is deplorable. If we allow the CCP to change who we are, and turn America against Americans, we will lose the moral authority we rightly claim. The strategic competition with the CCP is not merely about interest, but about values and we must remain true to our values. And nowhere more so than here at home. I yield back.