Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are doubling down on their criticism of President Obama for hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at a White House state dinner next month.
In competing op-eds, both candidates outline what their respective policies would look like regarding China if they were elected president, each knocking Obama firmly for his appeasement of the country’s leaders.
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The Florida senator penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, in which he describes China as a "rising threat" to the national security of the United States, referencing the massive Chinese-origin cyberattack carried out on the Office of Personnel Management that compromised the personal data of 22.1 million Americans.
"President Obama has continued to appease China’s leaders despite their mounting aggression. In addition to his insufficient responses to economic and national-security concerns, he has ignored the Chinese government’s mass roundups of human-rights advocates, oppression of religious minorities, detention of political dissidents, ever-tightening controls on the Internet, and numerous other human-rights violations," Rubio writes.
While acknowledging the need of the U.S. to "pursue cooperation" with Chinese leaders, Rubio implies that the president is possessed by an "illusion that more rounds of cordial dialogue with its rulers will effect a change of heart."
Rubio then calls on Obama to not cancel but "downgrade" the state visit with Xi Jinping in September to a "working visit."
"This is an opportunity to speak bluntly to this authoritarian ruler and achieve meaningful progress, not to treat him to a state dinner," Rubio explains.
Taking a harsher stance in an opinion piece in Real Clear Politics published Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Walker reiterated his previous demand for Obama to outright cancel the White House meeting with the Chinese leader.
"We have seen China become more aggressive with the United States. We’ve seen more cyberattacks against our country, a dangerous militarization of the South China Sea, and a disturbing crackdown on Christians and human rights activists," Walker wrote. "Yet the president plans to reward China with an official state visit and lavish its leader with White House honors."
The GOP lawmaker faults Obama and his 2016 competitor, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for the flawed policy towards China.
"These planned honors for China are the disturbing culmination of President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s many years of empty threats and symbolic summits," Walker said. "Hillary Clinton claims to have made great strides in advancing American interests in the cyber realm during her tenure as secretary of state, yet we have seen increasingly brazen attacks against the United States."
He goes on to knock Obama for refusing to identify China’s responsibility in the OPM cyber attack, which, according to a recent internal report by the Department of Homeland Security, was part of a larger operation targeting personal information of Americans for intelligence or military purposes.
Indeed, the president has instead busied himself with thanking the Chinese president for his country’s role in securing the controversial nuclear deal with Iran.
The White House said Wednesday that Obama will "no doubt" raise the subject of China’s cybersecurity behavior when Xi Jinping visits Washington in September.
In response to Rubio’s assertion regarding the Chinese president’s visit, White House press secretary Josh Earnest mocked the Florida senator on Friday, according to the Washington Times.
"That sounds like somebody who’s running to be social secretary of the White House, not president of the United States," Earnest quipped.