WASHINGTON – Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces delivered the following opening statements at a joint subcommittee hearing on the Indo-Pacific:
Rep. Wittman remarks as prepared for delivery:
Tensions with China continue to increase. Even with intense economic ties, strategic competition with China and her neighboring countries continue to escalate. Using grey zone paramilitary forces, militarizing South China Seas atolls, intimidating regional partners, developing an ever expanding naval forces, threatening to establish a South China Seas Air Defense Identification Zone and utterly rejecting United Nations tribunal decisions, China seeks to shift the regional balance and enforce an ever increasing hegemony on China’s regional neighbors.
So, I am forced to the conclusion that this increasing Chinese brinkmanship may likely, at some point, conclude in a violent confrontation. I am hopeful that saner heads will prevail with our nation’s largest economic partner, but China’s rejection of global norms and an ever expanding intimidation of her regional partners foretell a different outcome.
To address this seemingly preordained trajectory, the United States needs take several steps to deter this collision. First, I believe that the United States, in consultation with our partners and allies, need to affirm the global norms that that have maintained this long standing peace and stability. I am pleased to note the European Union affirmed their support for the United States in this strategic competition and expressed concern with President Xi Jinping's "authoritarian shift" to solving global problems.
I also believe that the United States should continue and challenge excessive maritime claims and continue a consistent level of freedom of navigation operations. I am particularly pleased that the Biden administration appears to have rejected the Obama administration’s Chinese appeasement strategy and has also endorsed the continued freedom of navigation efforts.
Additionally, I believe that the United States needs to significantly expand grey zone competition. This expansion should use the entirety of our federal capabilities to include a more agile cyber response and a more aggressive United States Coast Guard insertion to better manage increasing conflict in the global commons.
Finally, I fervently believe that the best way to preserve the peace is to prepare for war. To have the foreign policy we want, we must have the military we need. Allowing our military forces to atrophy and diminishing our ability to respond to future conflict, is the surest path to war. I categorically reject this path and look forward to addressing the administration’s reduced national security funding later this year.
In the words of Confucius, I believe “the strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” I have faith in our nation, our democracy, our ideals. Despite our differences, any strategic competitor should be forewarned that our will is strong and resolute in times of peril. Unleashing our strategic ideals on the Chinese communist dictates is akin to shining a light in darkness… nothing can be hidden, strategic gaps become evident.