Republican presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina joined her GOP rivals Tuesday in saying Chinese President Xi Jinping should not be honored with a state dinner at the White House.
Fiorina is talking law, the constitution and national security on a three-day campaign swing through South Carolina.
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO said during a national security forum in Myrtle Beach that she still would meet privately with Xi. But she said she’d cancel the dinner as just one step in a new hard line against Beijing, which she criticized for cybersecurity threats, Xi’s military buildup in the South China Sea and human rights abuses.
Fiorina said China, together with Russia and Iran, are aggressors that she would curtail if elected.
Obama has dealt meekly with the three nations, Fiorina added, comparing the trio to misbehaving children.
“What happens If you let your teenager do bad stuff over and over again, what do they do? Bad stuff,” she said, drawing a mix of laughter and applause at The Citadel military college in Charleston. “Well, it’s true of China and (others).”
Fiorina did not explicitly promise military action against China, suggesting that her first steps would involve using “economic leverage.”
In the midst of a campaign that has rewarded candidates who don’t hold elected office, Fiorina is looking to bolster her standing by emphasizing her foreign policy knowledge and experience gleaned over her years as a technology executive and a civilian adviser to the Central Intelligence Agency and other foreign affairs officials. She told the audience that she had “the highest clearance available to a civilian,” a boast that doesn’t consider the president, vice president or top civilian appointees like the defense secretary and national security adviser.
Also Tuesday, Fiorina spent an hour at The Citadel in Charleston talking about foreign affairs and national security. That event is hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, a national organization that promotes a strong American influence in world affairs.
As president, Fiorina said she “would not tolerate” Xi building military outposts in the South China Sea. “Five trillion dollars of trade goes through the South China Sea every year, and China wants to be the choke point,” she said.
Fiorina did not say whether she might use U.S. military force in the matter, instead saying the U.S. should help other Asia-Pacific nations quash “China’s control of that strait.”
She also said the U.S. would seek “retribution and consequences” for China’s intellectual property theft from U.S. firms. And she blamed the Chinese government for the theft of personal data of millions of current and former U.S. government employees. China has insisted it was not responsible for the hack. The U.S. has publicly provided no direct evidence proving China was responsible.
Fiorina argued that the U.S. can use its economic leverage to alter China’s strategies and tactics, because China’s economic growth depends upon Americans to buy the goods they produce. Also, Beijing holds considerable amounts of U.S. debt, in part to keep its currency pegged to the dollar and facilitate the trade imbalance that benefits Chinese producers.
“The Chinese government is struggling … the stock market is in a free fall,” she said. “They are dependent on this market continuing to be open to them.”
She said the U.S. could forbid Chinese investment in American companies, though that move could meet resistance from U.S. business interests who want the investment. Since Beijing’s administration restricts the circulation of American media in China, she said Washington could deny licenses to Chinese media.
Fiorina’s interpretation of leverage against China runs counter to how some of her Republican colleagues have talked about the U.S.-China relationship. Many GOP leaders blast the debt, arguing that foreign creditors hold leverage over the U.S., while sometime criticizing the trade deficit as a sign of weakness in the U.S. economy.
Huckabee files paperwork for S.C. primary
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has officially filed his paperwork for South Carolina’s presidential primary.
During brief remarks at state Republican Party headquarters in Columbia, Huckabee said Tuesday he has campaigned in the state more than any other GOP hopeful.
Huckabee, who finished second in the state’s 2008 GOP presidential primary, says he knows from experience that a slow and steady campaign will prevail over headline-grabbing statements made by some candidates.
Later, Huckabee was slated to make a stop at Sea Pro Boat Factory in Whitmire before a GOP town-hall meeting at the Newberry Opera House.
On Thursday, he is scheduled to have a breakfast meeting at Lizard’s Thicket in Lexington.