Sen. Marco Rubio has warned throughout his political career of threats from Russia and China, and a speech Tuesday to the right-of-center Heritage Foundation continued to communicate those concerns.
The unambiguously-titled “Putin’s War and the Threat from Communist China” crystallized the Rubio case that the “horrific invasion of Ukraine” creates new opportunities for Beijing amid what he called the “return of history,” evoking the Francis Fukuyama “end of history” motif.
“History didn’t end with the 20th century. And now we’re writing the history of the 21st century,” Rubio said, saying the story would be that of the U.S.-China dynamic and which country and economic model prevailed.
Rubio’s contention is that “human nature” did not change despite the end of the Cold War, and that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is a “shocking reminder” of human nature and “the opening chapter in the return of history.”
The “greater challenge,” however, will be from China, Rubio noted, with nuclear Beijing controlling “critical supply chains” and markets writ large.
“China is no longer hiding its strength and biding its time,” Rubio said, accusing the country of “economic imperialism” and being an “imminent aggressor” to U.S. allies.
Rubio said China poses a specific threat to the American-centered world order.
“They believe in raw power,” Rubio said, decrying the “naive, bipartisan widely held belief” in recent decades that globalization could change that fundamental condition.
“It took far too long to wake up to this reality,” Rubio said, crediting the Donald Trump presidency with making people aware of the serious threat from the communist nation.
Yet despite the Trump era’s focus, Rubio is still worried. He sees “woke-ism” and “progressive politics” as sops to China’s interest, and also blamed Wall Street and “American companies” for protecting China against adverse legislation.
Among them: Disney, which was very vocal in its outrage toward Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, but which Rubio argues has not spoken out strongly enough on human rights abuses in China.
“It was interesting last night to hear Disney,” Rubio said. “Apparently they’re outraged that our schools won’t be teaching five-year-olds about gender identity.”
As he has previously, the Senator urged more domestic production of items, like pharmaceuticals and electronic components, many of which are currently imported from China.
“Think of what would happen if they decided to cut you off from everything,” Rubio said. “Imagine the leverage that would give them.”
“Our dependence on Beijing is a vulnerability we can no longer accept,” Rubio added.