Top congressional Republicans criticized Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Friday for traveling to China this weekend, accusing him of undermining national security by trying to normalize diplomatic relations with Beijing while pushing for a more hawkish approach.
Rep. Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, threatened to subpoena Blinken if he did not produce documents by Friday night detailing the list of retaliatory actions the US government has considered against China and when they were applied. .
“The Biden administration’s weak actions on the world stage continue to embolden the CCP,” Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 4 Republican in the House, said in a statement. The secretary of state’s trip, she added, will “legitimize” the Chinese Communist Party’s “continued subversion of our sovereignty.”
why does it matter
The clash reflects two divergent approaches to dealing with a rising China and could influence upcoming debates on military spending. Republicans have accused the Biden administration of responding irresponsibly to Chinese provocations, such as the spy balloon that flew over the United States earlier this year, arguing that it would be wiser to show military solidarity with Taiwan than seek a diplomatic thaw.
“Commitment disconnected from strong military deterrence? I’m not sure what it’s really going to accomplish,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and chair of a House panel focused on strategic competition with China.
But Democrats argue that compromise is crucial. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped that during the summit “we can create some level of communication, particularly on the defense side, so that we can resolve the conflict” with Beijing.
Beijing cut short a series of diplomatic, military and energy engagements with the United States last year, following then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan over Chinese objections. Relations between the two countries experienced another setback earlier this year, when the Chinese spy balloon floated over the United States, near sensitive military sites. Mr. Blinken canceled a planned trip to Beijing after the balloon incident.
Last week, revelations that China has operated spy facilities in Cuba since at least 2019 and recently enhanced its ability to monitor electronic communications within the United States threatened to disrupt Blinken’s travel plans once again. They also inspired a round of criticism from Republican lawmakers against Blinken for continuing high-level talks with Beijing.
Mr. McCaul is trying to show that State Department officials intentionally delayed punishing China by demanding to see the department’s so-called competitive action schedules. The documents would show how long it took the department to implement certain measures, such as sanctions or export controls, after they were announced, if at all.
The State Department was not expected to meet the 6 pm deadline McCaul set to produce the documents.