Reporter Journal / Chen Weihua

A senator's paranoia over national security is a serious concern

By Chen Weihua (China Daily USA) Updated: 2017-11-17 12:12

At a seminar in Washington on Tuesday, John Cornyn, a United States senator from Texas, kept saying how China poses a national security threat to the United States.

The three reasons he gave, however, are laughable and paranoid, a reflection of the thinking in an increasing national security state.

The first reason, according to Cornyn, is that "China was a state-controlled economy, which explains why China poses a threat unlike any other."

Second, he claims that China has been conducting a "provocative military buildup", such as the building of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Third, he alleged that China is using every tool at its disposal to close the technology gap with the US in an attempt "to erase our military technological edge and turn our knowhow against us".

Cornyn, a Republican, is the one of the lawmakers who recently introduced a bill, known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2017, to expand the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in its scrutiny of foreign investment in the US, especially targeting investment from China.

The bill has triggered an outcry in both the legal and investment communities over a CFIUS process that is regarded as biased against Chinese investment.

Cornyn must be living in the early 1970s, before China started its reform and opening up.

Today China's state-owned enterprises contribute less than a third of the country's GDP, much less than private enterprises and foreign-funded ventures. Even if China's economy has a higher percentage of state control, exactly how it poses a national security threat to the US is still beyond imagination. Politicians in other countries have not raised such a threat.

His military-buildup part is equally laughable if Cornyn looked at the US defense budget, which is larger than the next 10 countries combined.

In the South China Sea, China was the last country there to build artificial islands, a fact acknowledged by the US State Department.

Cornyn did not say why those artificial islands built by other countries are OK and do not pose a national security threat to the US.

In the past four decades, China has indeed been closing the technology gap. Other successful examples in East Asia include Japan and the Four Little Tigers - South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Why they don't pose a national security threat to the US?

Cornyx is not alone in making "national security" his catchphrase. Many US politicians use and abuse "national security" in order to hijack the debate because anyone opposing it would be described as putting the nation in danger.

If Cornyn's logic is right, China should reverse its recent decision to open up its financial sector to US investors. After all, the US is the country that uses its dominance in the global financial system to threaten others.

In 2010, the US government ordered its financial giants Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America and Western Union to impose a banking blockade against WikiLeaks after it published US diplomatic cables. Who can be sure that those firms will not turn against China one day under similar orders?

If Cornyn's logic is applied, China should keep close scrutiny on companies like Boeing, General Electric and Honeywell, due to their close ties with the US military, and there are many US companies that are contractors of the US federal government.

I am glad that people in China do not show the same paranoia as Cornyn, a senator in the world's only superpower with a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the planet 100 times.


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