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GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley outlined her foreign policy approach to counter Beijing in a hard-line speech Tuesday, criticizing both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden before deeming China the “most dangerous foreign threat we’ve faced since the Second World War.”

“The Communist Party’s endgame is clear. China is preparing its people for war. President Xi [Jinping] has openly said it,” Haley said, addressing the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “We should take him at his word and act accordingly. Instead, President Biden continues to dither. His action makes conflict more likely. We must act now to keep the peace and prevent war. And we need a leader who will rally our people to meet this threat – on every front.”

Haley argued that the U.S. must rally more nations to its side by deepening miliary ties with Japan, South Korea and Australia and by forging stronger bonds with India and the Philippines.

“And we must finally get Europe to recognize that China threatens it as much as us. European countries are even further behind than we are in recognizing the Chinese threat. It’s time to shake them from their slumber,” she said. “We need a united front across the world. And one U.S. partner is especially important. Taiwan is the Communist Party’s most immediate target. If China invades, it will trigger the war that none of us want. We cannot let that happen.”

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Haley speaks through a microphone at the American Enterprise Institute

Nikki Haley outlined her foreign policy approach toward China while speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on June 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“We and our allies should give Taiwan everything it needs to defend itself. We should make sure the American naval presence in the Taiwan Strait remains strong. And we should let China know now that an invasion of Taiwan would not just be met with a few slap-on-the-wrist sanctions. It would mean a full-blown economic decoupling that would massively damage China,” Haley said, putting herself in direct contrast with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who testified earlier this month that decoupling with China would be a “big mistake” for the U.S.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing last week, reiterated to reporters that the United States does not support Taiwanese independence. Haley categorized the trip as a “a gold-plated invitation for more Chinese aggression, not less.”

“First, China scolded us. Then President Xi pronounced it a good meeting. He only says that when he gets a lot more than he gives. In fact, he gave us nothing. Joe Biden has 18 more months in office. Mark my words: He’s going to keep ignoring the Chinese threat. We’ll have wasted four more years. We’re falling behind. But China is moving forward, faster than ever.”

Haley, who served as the Trump administration’s ambassador to the United Nations, gave her former boss-turned-2024 election rival credit for upending the consensus among Republicans and Democrats alike that China becoming a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001 came without risk.

Nikki Haley at the American Enterprise Institute

Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at the American Enterprise Institute on June 27, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Haley said Trump “was right” in focusing on “Chinese trade abuses,” but she said he “did too little about the rest of the Chinese threat” and that he did not “put us on a stronger military foothold in Asia,” “stop the flow of American technology and investment into the Chinese military” or “effectively rally our allies against the Chinese threat.”

“Even the trade deal he signed came up short when China predictably failed to live up to its commitments,” said Haley, who is also the former governor of South Carolina. “He also showed moral weakness. In his zeal to befriend President Xi, Trump congratulated the Communist Party on its 70th anniversary of conquering China. That sent the wrong message to the world. Chinese Communism must be condemned, never congratulated. China was militarily stronger when President Trump left office than when he entered. That’s bad. But Joe Biden’s record is much worse. The list of President Biden’s failures on China is long.”

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Haley contended that Biden has “refused to seriously investigate China’s cover-up of COVID-19’s origins, “has done little to stop the expansion of China’s footprint on our homeland,” “has failed to address China’s major role in the fentanyl crisis” and “has weakened our own military.”

“His obsessive focus on climate issues naively plays into China’s negotiating hand,” she added. “The Communist Party is stealing our innovations to the tune of $600 billion a year. It’s using American enterprise to undermine American strength. And President Biden is letting it happen.”

If elected president, Haley vowed her top priority would be strengthening America’s economy and military to “protect America’s prosperity and homeland from Chinese aggression.”
 

Blinken, Xi Jinping shaking hands

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19, 2023. (Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP)

“We will tackle Chinese meddling in our society and its manipulation of our economy. And we will hold the Communist Party accountable while putting it on the global defensive,” Haley said, recalling her policy speech about China while on a trip to Seoul, South Korea, four years ago shortly after leaving her position at the United Nations. 

“China is much more than a mere ‘competitor.’ Communist China is an enemy. It is the most dangerous foreign threat we’ve faced since the Second World War. We have to stop wasting time,” she said. “That was true four years ago, when I said as much in Seoul. It is more so today.”

Haley said America must respond domestically, economically and militarily. Citing the great “national security risk,” she outlined how Chinese investors have bought nearly 400,000 acres of land in the U.S., equating to twice the size of New York City and including miles of farms near sensitive military facilities.

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“China treats our homeland like its personal playground,” she said, proposing a ban against all lobbying from the Communist Party and Chinese companies as well as preventing members of Congress and military leaders from lobbying on China’s behalf.

Haley also said that sanctions meant to deter the flow of Chinese-made precursor chemicals to Mexican cartels, which are used to make the fentanyl that’s been flowing across the border, are not working. She said that as president she would “push Congress to revoke permanent normal trade relations until the flow of fentanyl ends.”

She took concern over the Chinese navy, which was the same size as the U.S. Navy less than 10 years ago but now is the largest fleet in the world with 340 ships and has plans to hit 400 in the next two years.

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