Democratic Rep. Jim Himes Says ‘American Prosperity Depends’ On China

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Ilan Hulkower Contributor
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Democratic Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes says he does not see the relationship between China and America as one locked in existential crisis, and that “an awful lot of American prosperity” depends on trade with China.

The House Intelligence Committee ranking member told Politico on Thursday he does not see China as an “existential threat” because “existential means that if we don’t get it right, we cease to exist.” He argued that kind of thinking is counterproductive outside a nuclear exchange between the two nations — “which I would hope would be very low probability.”

“We need to start recognizing that they own a trillion dollars of our debt, that we do around $700 billion in trade and that an awful lot of American prosperity depends on the Chinese consumer and Chinese trade,” Himes told the outlet. (RELATED: Western Companies Slowly Turn Away From China Amid Rising Tensions)

Himes argued the U.S. “should be very tough” on China “[w]hen it comes to China stealing our intellectual property, when it comes to the South China Sea, when it comes to Taiwan, [and] when it comes to the treatment of the Uyghurs” before saying “there is massive upside for us to continue economic engagement with China.”

The representative told Politico that if he had five minutes alone with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he would warn Xi not to launch military efforts to unite the mainland with Taiwan “at the point of a gun.” He said he’d instead encourage China to make its case for unification directly with the people of Taiwan.

In the wake of a Chinese surveillance balloon sailing over the mainland U.S. in February, Himes tweeted that President Joe Biden handled the matter “with textbook competence,” arguing criticism over the belated shooting-down of the ballon was just “mouth breathing nonsense and craven posturing.” (RELATED: Chinese Communist Party-Linked Groups Contributed $1 Million To New York Democratic Campaigns: REPORT)

Himes criticized the “bipartisan orthodoxy” he said has emerged on China since the Trump administration and praised Biden’s modes of engaging China in a July 27 op-ed. The congressman warned in an August interview with NPR that decoupling American trade from China would unleash a myriad of problems from inflation and major job loss for Americans.