Look, we have a long-cherished tradition of friendship with the Chinese people. We continue to do so today. We have a Chinese American community here in America that we love and treasure. I’ve known them through business and personal ties; I’ve known many of them.
But I must say that the communist government in China today is not the same as the people of China. They’re reaching for and using methods that have created challenges for the United States and for the world.
And we collectively, all of us, need to confront these challenges from the PRC head-on, and along each of the many facets.
There are many opportunities, to be sure, but it is no longer realistic to ignore the fundamental differences between our two systems and the impact, the impact that those two systems have, the differences in those systems have on American national security.
This is a departure, for sure. It might be viewed as unconventional. It’s not what you’ve heard from leaders for the last two decades plus. Frankly, we’ve been slow to see the risk of China – the risk that it poses to American national security, because we wanted friendship with the People’s Republic from the very start. And because we, as Americans, always continue to hope for that.
But frankly, in our efforts to achieve this goal, we accommodated and encouraged China’s rise for decades, even when – even when that rise was at the expense of American values, Western democracy, and security, and good common sense.