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A.G. Barr Warns of Belligerent China

Attorney General William Barr declared that the People’s Republic of China was a “near-peer” to the United States in terms of superpower strength and suggested change in U.S. policy toward China.

“Gerald Ford served at the highest echelons of our government at the dawn of America’s re-engagement with the People’s Republic of China, which began with President Nixon’s historic visit in 1972. Three years later, in 1975, President Ford visited China for a summit with PRC leaders, including Mao Zedong. At the time, it was unthinkable that China would emerge after the Cold War as a near-peer competitor of the United States,” Barr said in prepared remarks last Thursday at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library.

Barr’s remarks are part of a series of strong statements coming from the Trump administration about PRC intentions for world domination and its bellicosity towards other Asia Pacific nations.

“Several weeks ago, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien spoke about the CCP’s ideology and global ambitions. He declared, and I agree, that ‘[t]he days of American passivity and naivety regarding the People’s Republic of China are over,’” Barr said in a reference to the communist party of China in an effort to differentiate between the communist rulers and the Chinese people.

“Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray described how the CCP pursues its ambitions through nefarious and even illegal conduct, including industrial espionage, theft, extortion, cyberattacks, and malign influence activities,” Barr added.

Barr continued by telegraphing an upcoming announcement by the State Department: “In the coming days, you will hear from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will sum up what is at stake for the United States and the free world.  I hope these speeches will inspire the American people to reevaluate their relationship with China, so long as it continues to be ruled by the Communist Party.” That remark was likely aimed at American-owned businesses being drawn in by Beijing with promises of large commercial markets and cheap labor.  

In recent weeks, former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, had publicly stated that the U.S. foreign policy establishment was wrong to encourage economic engagement with China:

“I think we made two big strategic mistakes when it comes to China. Our policy toward China for the past forty years has been underpinned by the assumption that a richer China would become a freer China and it has become crystal clear, especially under President Xi, that assumption was wrong,” Gates told Fox News.

In the Attorney General’s remarks he signaled a change in U.S. strategy for dealing with China:

“How the United States responds to this challenge will have historic implications and will determine whether the United States and its liberal democratic allies will continue to shape their own destiny or whether the CCP and its autocratic tributaries will control the future.”

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