A primary battle in the heart of the GOP goes all-in on beating China
A primary battle in the heart of the GOP goes all-in on beating China

A primary battle in the heart of the GOP goes all-in on beating China

“Republican candidates have really addressed the issues that create the greatest fear in the potential constituency, and one of them is clearly fear of China, whether it’s because of the pandemic, economic problems or fear of war,” said Anna Crosslin, retired president and CEO of the International Institute, an immigration hub in St. Louis. Louis. “[China is now] tickle the question to ‘outconservative’ the next candidate. “

Former Governor Eric Greitens, who resigned in the midst of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations, and Justice Minister Eric Schmitt is they the front runners of the race. Political action committees recently supported them released duel campaign videos which beat the opposing candidate’s record of engagement with China. The negative ads highlight policy initiatives and activities that were once routine for state politicians but are now portrayed as suspicious or disloyal.

That Greitens PAC video calls on Schmitt for his support as state senator in 2011 by St. Louis Lambert International Airport Aerotropolis “China Hub” designed to make the city the air freight axis between China and the Midwest. The kicker of the ad: “Eric Schmitt: Good for China. Bad for Missouri. “

That Schmitt PAC video slaps Greitens for an appearance on Chinese state television during an official visit to Beijing as governor in 2017. The kicker of the ad: “Eric Greitens: Good for China. Bad for Missouri. “

Schmitt’s campaign declined to respond directly to a written question from POLITICO criticizing his support for the “China Hub” plan. The campaign instead issued a written statement from Schmitt’s communications director Charli Huddleston, who partially stated that “Missourians deserve a senator with a proven track record of putting America first and standing up to China.”

Three of the other candidates – St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey and US representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long – claim that China is set on global dominance, with Long linking the Chinese Communist Party to the emergence of critical racial theory and “culture of annulment” in the US

It may come as no surprise that the candidates’ anti-China rhetoric is gaining ground in Missouri, where former President Donald Trump remains popular. Trump, who won the state by 15 points in 2020, despised China for a large part of his term of office. Five of the six candidates – the exception is state senator Dave Shatz – model themselves as Trump-friendly MAGA warriors.

Schmitt even tried to sue the Chinese government in April 2020 for “misleading representations, concealments and retaliation” concerning the appearance and seriousness of Covid-19. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang responded by saying that the trial “invites only to ridicule“A month later, Chinese state-affiliated news platform It reported the Global Times that Beijing was considering retaliatory sanctions against Schmitt. Long and McCloskey have also called for investigations into Covid’s possible Chinese origins.

Long goes a step further by claiming that the Chinese government has deliberately allowed the export to the United States of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. Synthetic opioids killed more than 64,000 Americans from April 2020 to April 2021 according to the CDC. The majority of the illegal synthetic opioids that reach the United States are retrieved in China of Mexico’s Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

Hartzler’s campaign highlights her experience as a member of Congress Executive Commission for China and her congress website links to four videos outlining the danger as she sees it. “China is number one [threat] which America faces from a foreign adversary, ”Hartzler said.

Hartzler has also hammered Greitens for his looks on Chinese state television. Greitens told POLITICO that he could not remember exactly what he said in the interview, but all aspects of the trip were “promoting the economic interests of the people of Missouri.”

Missouri Democrats have joined the fight. Democratic Senate hope Lucas Kunce published an ad in November, Schmitt attacked for his “China hub” plan, Greitens for his CCTV appearance and Hartzler for accepting a $ 1,000 campaign donation from Smithfield Foods, a subsidiary of Chinese owned WH Group.

The Missouri GOP primary, held in August, has caught the attention of the Chinese government, which said it believes the candidates are not in sync with the US public.

“We are not interested in election politics in the United States, but we strongly oppose some politicians hopping the ‘China threat’ in their campaigns to get attention and votes,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. . POLITICO in an e-mail statement. “These remarks may not fully represent the attitude of the American people towards China [and] We hope that these politicians can have a correct position and a rational view of China’s development and the relationship between China and the United States. “

The candidates’ arguments about China’s malignant impact on Missouri’s economy are not supported by the data. Missouri’s exports to China – mostly oilseeds and meat products – amounted to $ 1.7 billion by 2020, making China the state’s third largest export destination behind Mexico and Canada, according to a recent US-China Business Council report. China is also Missouri’s third largest service export destination, worth $ 796 million in 2019.

Missouri has also been relatively isolated from the impact of job losses associated with industrial outsourcing to China. An analysis by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, concludes that the state has recorded a loss of 2 percent of its total employment base due to China’s outsourcing from 2001-2018. It places Missouri in 30th place among the 50 states and Washington, DC in the severity of this impact.

The primary focus of China’s focus is on an ugly predecessor in GOP Senator Josh Hawleys successful race in 2016 for Missouri Attorney General v. State Sen. Kurt Schaefer. ONE campaign ad highlighted a creepy-looking pair of Mandarin-speaking Asians who rave about their ability to buy farmland in Missouri and end with a voice-over urging voters to “Say to Kurt Schaefer: Stop helping the Chinese buy our farms. ” (The ad, which was produced by the nonprofit conversational political organization Tea Party Patriotsnever mentions Hawley and his the campaign denied any connection to it.) On Saturday, Hawley approved Hartzler in a tweet praising her for possessing “the integrity, heart and toughness to represent MO.”

Advocates of Missouri’s Asian American community warn that such rhetoric is dangerous. Caroline Fan, president of the Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation, noted that Missouri’s Asian community constitutes a swing vote that GOP Senate candidates risk alienating. Eligibility voters among the Missouri population of Asian Americans, Hawaiian Americans, and Pacific Islanders increased by 44 percent from 2012 to 2018 and now make up 2.7 percent of the state’s eligible population.

“When our elected representatives just continue to engage in xenophobia and to incite fear of the yellow danger,” Fan said, “it is very harmful.”

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