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US needs to stop China and here are the best ways to do it

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The House Select Committee on China recently held its first hearing with the purpose of introducing the looming threats the adversarial nation presents to the United States. Witnesses from various sectors voiced concerns over several interest areas, including U.S. military readiness, land ownership and manufacturing. 

These issues aren’t always top-of-mind for most Americans, but they have great impacts on everyday life in my home state of Michigan and across the country. There is no piece of American life that the Chinese government hasn’t thought to meddle in, and it’s far past time Congress addresses this growing threat head-on. 

When faced with rising tensions, war is never the first option. Deterrence is the best path forward until it becomes necessary to initiate military action. Former Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger expressed in his written testimony to the select committee that our nation must “constrain and temper” China “through robust, coordinated military deterrence (including an urgent expansion of our defense industrial capacity).” 

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The U.S. is currently engaged in deterrence on several fronts, including our ongoing support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, as well as increasing support for Taiwan as tensions escalate between the island and China. However, the U.S. strategy must also include investments in our own military readiness in case the fight comes toward our shores. 

China's People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China has repeatedly entered the waters and airspace of Taiwan, Taiwanese defense officials have said.

China’s People’s Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China has repeatedly entered the waters and airspace of Taiwan, Taiwanese defense officials have said. (Lin Jian/Xinhua via AP)

Congress has begun hearings with military leadership on programs to prioritize in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As a member on the House Armed Services Committee, I’ll be scrutinizing current budgets and programs that will bolster our military’s readiness levels while being conscientious of taxpayer dollars. 

While many programs contribute to deterrence and readiness goals, there are three that will be influential not only for the United States, but also for our allies. Reports have indicated China’s growing submarine fleet and its increasing capabilities, creating an urgency for anti-submarine capabilities. The Navy’s P-8A Poseidon will play a critical role in combating this specific fleet as the only naval aircraft that can detect and track foreign submarines. 

The RGM-84 Harpoon Missile program will also play a decisive role in U.S. readiness and any active theaters of war that occur. It is capable of both land-strike and anti-ship missions and supports U.S. military missions as well as those of more than 30 partner nations around the world. This advances deterrence while providing essential readiness capabilities to U.S. allies. 

However, deterrence is about more than weapons and military equipment. It’s also about protecting our assets inside our borders. The Chinese government and some of its deep-pocketed loyalists have been quietly buying up American farmland. This poses a major threat to our national security. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released data noting that more than 380,000 acres of U.S. farmland are controlled by Chinese landowners. While China isn’t the primary purchaser of U.S. farmland, it is the most worrisome. 

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Reports show that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland increased “more than 20-fold in a decade from $81 million in 2010 to nearly $1.9 billion” in 2021. More concerning is that hundreds of acres purchased by Chinese-backed investors are mere miles from U.S. military installations, including the Grand Forks Air Base in North Dakota and Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. 

Several pieces of legislation are currently under consideration in the House to monitor existing sales of U.S. farmland and deter future sales to parties with ties to the Chinese government. Two important bills are H.R. 7892 and H.R. 5490, both of which I support. To ensure our safety, increase national defense, and prohibit further infiltration by the Chinese government, there must be measures put in place to protect our assets. 

Deterrence also means decreasing America’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing and investing more in American-made production. During his testimony before the select committee, Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul described the growing trade deficit between the U.S. and China, which has “displaced” an estimated “3.7 million American jobs, including 2.8 million in manufacturing.” 

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However, deterrence is about more than weapons and military equipment. It’s also about protecting our assets inside our borders. The Chinese government and some of its deep-pocketed loyalists have been quietly buying up American farmland. This poses a major threat to our national security. 

In states like Michigan, where manufacturing accounts for hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact, the trade deficit with China is devastating. It also increases America’s vulnerability to intellectual property theft, espionage, and unfair trade practices. 

As Chairman Mike Gallagher succinctly put it, “time is not on our side” when it comes to the Chinese government. Congress must take decisive action across the board to defend our borders, protect our interests, and secure our economic interests. 

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