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    This Republican Congressman has warned of a new Cold War with China. How he plans to take an aggressive approach.

    By Lawrence Andrea,


    WASHINGTON – After years warning of China’s growing influence, Wisconsin U.S. Rep Mike Gallagher is preparing to take on a bigger role in 2023 — leading the Select Committee on China in the new Congress.

    “It’s consuming my sole focus,” Gallagher told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network. “And I do think right now my highest and best use is forging a bipartisan consensus around how we beat the Chinese Communist Party in this new Cold War.”

    The Green Bay Republican’s rhetoric on China is not new. Gallagher has positioned himself as a watchdog on the growing superpower since he was first elected to the House in 2016. But the 38-year-old former Marine and intelligence officer , at the direction of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, will now steer the committee that aims to shape the U.S.’s response to what he has called the existential threat of the Chinese Communist Party.

    While the committee’s membership has yet to be decided, Gallagher said it is “essential” that the group’s work is a bipartisan effort. A number of “national security-minded Democrats with experience in the national security community” have expressed interest in the committee, Gallagher said, declining to give names.

    The group's work is likely to touch on everything from U.S. competition and economic ties with China to support for Taiwan and the U.S.’s own military response to potential future conflict.

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    Rep. Mike Gallagher speaks during a President Donald J. Trump’s Make America Great Again Rally on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis. William Glasheen, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

    Initially, the committee will aim to expose supply chain issues and the U.S.’s dependence on China for things like pharmaceutical ingredients, rare earth minerals and weapons components. Gallagher suggested the committee will inspect past legislation and initiatives, including those dealing with export controls , to make sure they are being implemented.

    “We need some controls, greater controls, on the flow of American dollars to China in general and Chinese technology and military modernization in particular,” the third-term Republican said.

    Some of those efforts are already underway. The Biden Administration last week added 36 Chinese tech companies to a trade blacklist as part of an effort to slow China’s military advancements. And Gallagher this month helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would effectively block perceived bad actors from accessing the U.S. financial system.

    Heavily arming Taiwan should be a focus for the U.S., Gallagher says

    Meanwhile, Gallagher indicated he will take an aggressive approach to confronting China, particularly when it comes to supporting Taiwan. He described what he called “deterrence by denial,” claiming the best way to avoid a conflict over the island is to “put in place the actual weapons systems and the elements of hard power” to deter China's President Xi Jinping from initiating an invasion.

    The U.S., he said, should not hesitate to “arm Taiwan to the teeth and turn Taiwan into a porcupine with a sense of urgency.” The committee could hold hearings on “why Taiwan matters.”

    ​​“I think there's a mistaken assumption within the Biden Administration — you're seeing it play out in Ukraine and Russia — that all our assistance to the Ukrainians with certain weapons systems are provocative, they're escalatory, that if we do this ... Putin is going to escalate,” Gallagher said, referring to President Joe Biden's caution prior to the war in Ukraine. "We sort of deter ourselves. I think that is very dangerous.”

    Congress on Thursday passed the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act , which includes $10 billion in military aid to Taiwan over the next five years.

    When it comes to the U.S’s own potential military response, Gallagher has proposed establishing a so-called “anti-navy” that would consist, in part, of long-range and intermediate missile systems around the Pacific — in places like southern Japan, the northern Philippines, Guam and Alaska — that could be used to take out Chinese warships.

    “Rather than gambling the fate of the free world on Mr. Xi’s restraint, we must learn the lessons from Ukraine and put American hard power in Mr. Xi’s path before it is too late,” Gallagher wrote in the Wall Street Journal in October.

    Much of that work would involve coordinating with other committees, like the House Armed Services Committee, on which Gallagher sits, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

    Gallagher acknowledged that there are “always risks” to determining a proper response, adding: “I don’t think we should provoke for no reason.” But he echoed President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy mantra of “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

    “What I'm saying is that we should buy and produce and deploy the big sticks that we need to actually credibly deter the (People’s Liberation Army),” Gallagher said.

    Gallagher had a 'wake-up call' in 2015 as it relates to China

    China first landed on Gallagher’s radar in 2015, before he was elected to Congress. The “wake up” moment for the Green Bay native came when he received a letter informing him that his personal information might have been compromised in an Office of Personnel Management data breach linked to China .

    “That was a real wake-up call for, hey, the regime we're dealing with here in China is probably a bit more malevolent than we think,” he told the Journal Sentinel.

    Another influence was Matthew Pottinger, a deputy national security adviser in the Trump Administration and a friend of Gallagher who previously worked as a journalist in China. Both men served in Iraq, and the pair would have breakfast once a month during Gallagher’s first year in Congress.

    “It was like going to grad school at Pottinger University,” he recalled. “He really shaped my view on this and persuasively argued that the peaceful rise narrative (about China) was a fiction and that the responsible stakeholder hypothesis has failed.”

    The "peaceful rise narrative" refers to the idea that economic and military developments in China would not pose a threat to international stability. The idea of China as a so-called responsible stakeholder referenced a belief that the country could cooperate positively at the international level, be that economically or diplomatically.

    Gallagher calls China 'biggest long-term challenge' U.S. faces, wants to ban TikTok

    Gallagher has since only become more vocal. At the state Republican convention this past May, Gallagher told the crowd that China is “the biggest long-term challenge we face.”

    “I would argue that we’re in the early stages of a new Cold War,” Gallagher said at the time. “And we’re currently losing.”

    In July, he told the Young America’s Foundation that the “stakes of this competition are the survival of the American project itself.”

    Still, Gallagher has voted against recent legislation that aims to counter China's advancements. He voted in July against the CHIPS and Science Act that would boost domestic production of semiconductor chips in the U.S., claiming the bill should have been "laser-focused on the challenge we face from the Chinese Communist Party."

    More recently, Gallagher has taken aim at the Chinese-owned popular video-sharing app TikTok, calling for it to be banned and arguing the Chinese government can use the app to spy on users and promote Chinese Communist Party propaganda. The Senate last week passed a bill that would ban the app from federal government devices.
    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks at an election event, Nov. 9, 2022, in Washington. The results of the midterm election are raising questions about the future of American support for Ukraine. McCarthy warned last month that his party wouldn't support writing a "blank check" for Ukraine if it captured the House majority. Alex Brandon, AP

    McCarthy, the House GOP leader, has said Gallagher “understands the complexities of this generational challenge” in China. He said the Wisconsin Republican has “dedicated his time in Congress to understanding, educating, and defending America from the threat the CCP poses.”

    More politics coverage from USA TODAY

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: This Republican Congressman has warned of a new Cold War with China. How he plans to take an aggressive approach.

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