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Biden commerce secretary pick won’t promise to keep Huawei on blacklist

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While pledging a tough line on China, President Joe Biden‘s nominee for secretary of commerce would not promise to keep the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei on the United States’ economic blacklist.

“We can’t have the Chinese or really anyone having a backdoor into our network and compromising in any way our national or economic security,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said at her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.

When talking about Huawei, Raimondo said she would “use the full tool kit at my disposal […] to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference or any kind of backdoor influence into our network.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) brought up that Huawei was one of many Chinese companies that had been placed on the Bureau of Industry and Security’s entities list under the Trump administration for their role in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mass surveillance and repression of Uighur Muslims. On his last day in the department, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the actions of the Chinese government as “genocide,” a view which Biden and his newly appointed Secretary of State Antony Blinken share.

When asked by Cruz if she would promise to maintain those companies on the blacklist, Raimondo said that “I will commit to working with you on that, and I certainly agree with you that the entities list is a powerful tool in the commerce secretary’s tool kit to shore up American national security.”

She was then asked about Huawei, to which Raimondo said that “I will review the policy, consult with you, consult with industry, consult with our allies, and make an assessment as to what’s best for American national and economic security.”

Cruz didn’t seem to like Raimondo’s answer, replying: “Well, I will say that there is chatter in Washington that the Biden administration is contemplating going easy on China and removing companies from the entities list—I certainly hope that does not happen, because I think that would be profoundly contrary to the national security interest of the United States.”

Later, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R) published a statement blasting this, saying: “This is ridiculous: Huawei didn’t change because America has a new President. Huawei is still the Chinese Communist Party’s tech puppet and a serious threat to national security.”

While White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday underscored “strategic patience” in the Biden administration’s interagency review process and its outreach to Republicans, Democrats, and global allies about its China strategy, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe felt that patience wasn’t the answer. On Monday, Ratcliffe told Fox News that the U.S. stance toward China needed action, not patience, according to The Washington Examiner. During her hearing, Raimondo said multiple times that the Biden administration was engaged in a broad review on how to tackle China.

Back in early December, Ratcliffe labeled China the “greatest threat” to freedom since World War II in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

While no vote was taken immediately on Raimondo’s nomination, Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) predicted she would soon win confirmation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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VIDEO: Chinese military plane comes ‘dangerously’ close to U.S. aircraft over South China Sea

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The United States Army recorded and released unnerving video of a close encounter with a Chinese jet over the South China Sea. The Chinese military plane came “dangerously” close to the U.S. military aircraft in the international airspace last week, the U.S. military announced on Thursday.

The Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), the command responsible for overseeing U.S. operations in the area, said in a statement that the encounter occurred on December 21, during which a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet flew within 10 feet (3 meters) of a U.S. Air Force RC-135, a reconnaissance plane with about 30 people on board.

According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the Chinese jet came within 10 feet of the airplane’s wing, but 20 feet from its nose, causing the U.S. aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.

 

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