Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy laid out his trade platform at a Thursday speech in Ohio, touting it as a declaration of economic independence from China that will revive America’s heartland.
Ramaswamy, 38, put forth a four-point plan to counter the Chinese Communist Party through “a pro-trade approach to sensibly decoupling from China” that he says will balance economic issues with national security concerns.
Several Republican primary opponents have signaled openness to combating China’s aggression through tariffs — including, most prominently, former President Donald Trump — but many have signaled aversion to disrupting ongoing trade relations with Beijing.
“Now who’s our top adversary today? It’s not the USSR — that fell back in 1990,” he told a crowd assembled at a plastics manufacturing plant in New Albany, Ohio. “As some seem to forget, our top adversary today is Communist China.”
The biotech entrepreneur says his trade-focused approach is the only “serious” attempt among GOP candidates and will “modernize the Reagan Doctrine” by shifting its emphasis from “peace through strength” to “prosperity through peace.”
Ramaswamy began by criticizing the decision to admit China to the World Trade Organization in 2001, saying the US had “lost the plot” in assuming it could “export Big Macs and Happy Meals and somehow that was going to export our values to the CCP.”
“What they realized is that they could use access to their market, their money to get us to be more like them,” he said, saying Beijing has hectored US officials for alleged human rights violations and cowed American businesses into turning a blind eye to the CCP’s own human rights abuses.
“The Chinese Communist Party builds a great Chinese wall that stops you from entering the Chinese market if you criticize the CCP, but they will roll out the red carpet if you criticize the United States,” Ramaswamy said.
He went on to call out Nike for relying on the “slave labor” of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, saying it was “one of the worst human rights atrocities committed by a major nation since the Third Reich of Germany.”
The longshot candidate’s platform also built on a buzzy sound bite from the first Republican primary debate last month, when he declared, “The climate change agenda is a hoax.”
According to Ramaswamy, the issue “has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with letting China catch up to the US” economically, as Beijing’s greenhouse gas emissions have remained far higher than other developed nations’.
“To declare independence from China, we must declare independence from the climate change agenda here at home,” he said.
That would entail rolling back subsidies enacted by the Biden administration for electric vehicles and solar panels, he added, which even members of the president’s own party like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have criticized as a handout to China.
“I have no problem with the existence and purchase of electric vehicles. But I do have a problem with a subsidized industry that falsely tilts the scales towards China,” Ramaswamy said.
“We depend on China for rare earth minerals, and mineral oil refining capacity in order to provide those electric vehicles in the United States. So when you, as taxpayers, subsidize EVs, we are actually subsidizing the Chinese Communist Party on whom we rely for the production of those EVs. The same story for the solar panels in this country.”
Ramaswamy’s plan also involves turning to countries such as India, Brazil and Chile for rare earth mineral imports, many of which contain reserves of lithium needed for semiconductors, an essential component of many electronic products.
The second plank takes aim at last year’s passage of the CHIPS Act, which he called a “Green New Deal masquerading in CHIPS clothing” for having pushed renewable energy initiatives while ignoring steps to secure semiconductor supply chains.
To prevent China’s economic dominion over semiconductor manufacturing, he suggested “reopening and expanding trade relationships with our friends in Japan and South Korea,” who would also “compete” with US semiconductor manufacturers.
Ramaswamy in an interview with The Post before the event also committed in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan to the US military defending the island, where the majority of semiconductor production takes place.
“I’m the only presidential candidate that has been crystal clear that we will defend Taiwan, at least until we have achieved semiconductor independence, at which point we resume the current US posture of strategic ambiguity,” Ramaswamy said.
Asked whether that defense would involve US troop deployments, he said: “We will defend Taiwan to ensure that China does not successfully consummate its invasion.”
His third plank would end the US military’s reliance on China for strategic materials and limit foreign entanglements, including the war in Ukraine, which he said in his prepared remarks has “exacerbated shortages in our military stockpiles.”
In his speech, Ramaswamy also took issue with the size of the US defense budget, saying the Pentagon spent “over $3 trillion in wars spanning Afghanistan to Iraq over the last 20 years that did not advance US interests.”
Ramaswamy’s opposition to US security assistance for Kyiv has put him at odds with other Republican candidates, almost all of whom have expressed blunt disapproval of his view.
Finally, Ramaswamy pledged to “cut off our pharmaceutical dependence on China” and instead strengthen trade relationships with Israel, India and other nations.
“That same country that unleashed hell on the world with COVID-19, with the man-made virus, that same country that’s waging a one-sided, illicit Opium War lacing fentanyl into other drugs crossing the border illegally, is the same country that we depend on for 95% of our imports for our over the counter medicines that we take every day,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”
“The key synthetic precursors for making fentanyl come from — you can’t make this stuff up — come from Wuhan,” he added.
“I don’t think we should be funding Chinese research institutions,” Ramaswamy also told The Post when asked about US funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which carried out risky gain-of-function experiments with bat coronaviruses and is considered to be the potential origin of the pandemic.
Source : NYPOST