Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a letter to the President today, urging him to take a strong tone with Chinese President Hu Jintao during his state visit this week.
Gillibrand focused her attention on two issues–cybersecurity and the hoarding of rare earth elements (REEs)–where she feels the Chinese are behaving inappropriately.
“Cybersecurity and REEs greatly affect both the national and economic security of the United States, and I continue to be concerned about China’s policies regarding these two strategic interests,” she wrote in her letter.
Gillibrand’s letter comes on the heels of a formal complaint by Senator Chuck Schumer who has been a strong voice against the Chinese for much of the past decade. Schumer picked a different issue, however, focusing on his belief that Beijing suppresses the value of its currency for an economic advantage.
“Both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House, and the American people are just fed up when, up and down the line, China doesn’t play by the rules and seeks unfair economic advantage,” Schumer said.
“If it were just one area, if they were fine on most things…that would be one thing,” he said. “It seems in almost every place you look, not only do they seek advantage, which every country does, but they seek unfair advantage.”
Gillibrand sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and focused her complaints on topics that can cause potential security problems.
Cyber attacks against the defense department as well as American-based companies like Google were at the heart of Gillibrand’s complaint, prompting her to write that “the potentially devastating consequences to the United States illustrate the need to engage this issue at the highest levels of government.” The question of China’s ability to restrict exports because of their control over REEs is also a problematic one for the Senator because these regulations sometimes force companies to relocate to China in order to access the materials.
President Jintao is due to arrive in Washington today.