Congressman Corker: China's Provocative Territorial Claims Threaten U.S. Strategic Interests in Asia-Pacific

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At a hearing to assess the state of U.S. relations with China, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cited China's increasingly aggressive land reclamation activity in the South and East China Seas as a strategic threat to U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region. He also warned of other provocative Chinese actions that undermine opportunities for improving ties with the United States.

"Whether it is China's militarization of the South China Sea or cyber theft or discriminatory trade and investment policies, there are far more downsides than upsides in the U.S.-China relationship these days," said Corker. "Regrettably, as the strategic challenges increase the opportunities for positive engagement diminish. I say this as someone who has always tried to take a balanced view toward China in the hopes of fostering positive engagement because this relationship remains one of the most consequential for U.S. political, security and economic interests."

Corker also urged both the U.S. and China to resolve a years-long trade dispute affecting U.S. manufacturers of material for solar panels prior to finalizing a bilateral investment treaty (BIT). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has exclusive jurisdiction over bilateral investment treaties.

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"For more than four years, the U.S. and China have been unable to resolve a trade dispute [engaged in a trade war] over solar panels and polysilicon [imports and exports] to make those panels," said Corker. "This dispute has gone on long enough. Surely the Chinese government and the U.S. government will be wise enough to resolve this problem before this committee considers the U.S. China bilateral investment treaty."

The committee heard testimony from Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

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For archived footage and full witness testimony, click here.

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