China will be isolated both economically and politically if the Chinese Communist Party commits widespread violence in Hong Kong, Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said during the 2020 debate on Dec. 19.
A debate moderator noted that over one million Uyghurs are being held in detention by authorities in China and wondered if the United States should boycott the 2020 Olympics.
“I think that any tool ought to be on the table, especially diplomatic, economic, and social tools like what you’re describing,” he said.
Buttigieg said that trade policies between the two countries is only one aspect of relations between them.
“We also have to acknowledge what’s going on over there. The use of technology for the perfection of dictatorship. That is going to require a stronger than ever response from the U.S. in defense of democracy. But when folks out there standing up for democracy hear not a peep from the president of the United States, what message is that sending to the Chinese Communist Party?
“The message I will send is that if they perpetrate a repeat of anything like Tiananmen Square when it comes to Hong Kong, they will be isolated from the free world, and we will lead that isolation, diplomatically and economically.”
Billionaire Tom Steyer claimed that the United States cannot disassociate with China and that the country is America’s “frenemy.”
“We actually can’t isolate ourselves from China. In fact, we have to work with them as a frenemy—people who disturb us, who we disagree with, but who, in effect, we are linked with in a world that is getting ever closer.”
“We need a good relationship with them and we are going to have to work with them in all circumstances,” he added.
Former Vice President Joe Biden was asked about China’s military build-up as well as China’s espionage inside the United States. “Is the U.S. on a collision course with China?” a debate moderator wondered.
“We have to make clear is that we, in fact, are not going to abide by what they have done. A million Uyghurs are in concentration camps. They’re being abused, and they’re in concentration camps. What we started in our administration that Trump stopped … We should be moving 60 percent of our sea power to that part of the world,” Biden responded. “To let in fact the Chinese understand that they’re not gonna go any further, that we are going to be there to protect folks.”
Biden said alliances need to be built with others in the region, such as Japan.
“We should have gone to the U.N. immediately and sought sanctions for what they did. We don’t have to go to war, but we have to make clear: This is as far as you go,” he added.
Businessman Andrew Yang called what’s happening in Hong Kong “shocking,” noting the advanced facial recognition technology the authorities have deployed.
“They’re in the process of leapfrogging us in AI because they have more data than we do and the government is subsidizing it,” Yang said. “What we have to do is build an international coalition to set technology standards and then you can bring the Chinese to the table.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Chinese leaders know if American presidents don’t keep their word. She noted that some NATO leaders were making fun of Trump at the recent summit and claimed that the president “couldn’t tolerate it” and eventually “walked,” or “quit.”
“If we want to send a message to the Chinese, we stand with our allies. We stand with them firmly,” she said. “We have a very clear and coherent foreign policy when it comes to human rights.”
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