Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on priorities he raised during the bipartisan trip to China that he led that he is now pushing
This week, President Biden will attend the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in San Francisco, where on Wednesday he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Earlier today, I spoke with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and urged that President Biden should push President Xi on some of the same things my colleagues and I did during the bipartisan CODEL I led to China last month.
At the top of our list was the fentanyl crisis, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans each year – so many of them young Americans – and which in large part originates in China. For years, Chinese chemical companies have faced little oversight as they’ve sold chemicals – like fentanyl analogues, xylazine, and other substances – to Mexican buyers. Mexican cartels then turn these chemicals into fentanyl that they sell in the United States and ultimately into our communities, wreaking havoc and claiming tens of thousands of lives.
So, when my colleagues and I met with President Xi, we explained in graphic detail how fentanyl was devastating our communities, and that China needs to stop the exportation of these precursor chemicals. We spoke in very strong terms – I did, Senator Hassan, and Senator Cassidy. We all told him what havoc this was wreaking in America.
I explained to President Xi that my dad used to be a small business owner, and that it would go a very, very long way towards improving China’s image for Americans if they took action to crack down on the fentanyl crisis. The benefits that China would get from cracking down on these companies in terms of American goodwill would far more than outweigh the tiny cost it would have on their economy. And I said any businessman knows that would be a good thing to do.
President Xi seemed receptive to our concerns about fentanyl and said he would look into it, so today I relayed to Jake Sullivan that President Biden should be really strong on this issue and ask for concrete action from President Xi on this important topic.
It sounds as if there may be a chance for progress with the Chinese government on cracking down on exporting precursor chemicals used to manufacture fentanyl, so we are eager to hear more come out of Wednesday’s meeting. If they will crack down on these precursor chemicals that are used to make fentanyl, it would be of huge benefit to this country and save thousands of lives. So, we are optimistic and hopeful that our CODEL, and now President Biden pushing the issue, will get some results. It was among the highest priorities for our CODEL last month.
I also urged Jake Sullivan to make sure that President Biden echoes what we told President Xi about the need for reciprocity between U.S. and Chinese businesses.
Time and time again, our best companies are prohibited from competing freely – or competing at all – in China, while many of their best companies can freely compete here.
So, many of our companies are severely disadvantaged when the Chinese stack the deck against them in the form of forced technology transfers, the theft of their intellectual property, and other unfair practices. This is costing countless American jobs and tens of millions – if not more – to our economy every single year.
We listed roughly a dozen major companies that right now face a major disadvantage competing in China, and we hope the President will strongly push President Xi on those this week.
We also stressed to President Xi last month that if the U.S. and China are to improve their economic relations, U.S. companies need to be able to compete freely within China, just as they can compete freely here. I expect President Biden will emphasize the same this week.
Finally, I expect President Biden to be adamant, as we were with President Xi, that China must lean on Russia and Iran not to exacerbate the military crises happening around the world.
On the Israel-Gaza conflict in particular, we told President Xi that China needs to use its influence on Iran to stop them from acting in any way that would widen the conflict. China should play a positive – not a negative – role in this delicate crisis.
In fact, during my meeting with President Xi, as you may remember, I criticized the Chinese government for issuing a statement about October 7th that failed to condemn the killing of civilians, and they ended up issuing a stronger statement the next day.
When President Biden is similarly firm that China should play a stabilizing role with Iran and Russia, I think it will make a big difference.
In short, Wednesday’s meeting between President Biden and President Xi will be a real test for China to show that they truly want a better relationship with the United States.
When my colleagues and I met with President Xi in person, we were pointed and specific with our questions and issues, and found him to be responsive – so I expect President Biden will have the same sort of frank conversation we did a month ago.
When the president hammers home the same things we focused on in Beijing – on fentanyl, on reciprocity for U.S. businesses, on ensuring stability on the world stage – then given what we saw in our conversations, we think it could make significant progress on issues we’ve long focused on here in the United States Senate.