During an interview on Wednesday, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida expressed his belief that the United States should strive for economic self-sufficiency from China. He also mentioned his readiness to employ tariffs as a means to compel the communist country to make necessary alterations.
The statements were made by DeSantis during an interview on Fox News, where he engaged in a conversation with host Kayleigh McEnany. “I think we need to reestablish our economic sovereignty,” DeSantis said. “I think we need to produce more critical items here in the United States. And I think they have a huge amount of leverage over us because of really policy choices that have been made over many decades.”
DeSantis blasted “D.C. elites” who pushed for China to join the World Trade Organization, adding that it would make China more “free” and “democratic.”
“In reality, it hollowed out parts of our country, it made China very rich, and what has Xi used that money for? To build up more military capacity,” DeSantis stated. “He now has grand ambitions, not just in the Pacific, but even in our own hemisphere. And we see news where China is going to be working with Cuba to establish eavesdropping, maybe a military outpost, that’s a huge, huge threat to this country.”
“So yes, we need to declare independence from China economically,” he added. “And we need to make sure that we have the ability to project the appropriate strength in the Pacific to work with our allies to deter China. China understands the language of strength. And I think what Joe Biden has done since his first day in office, he’s projected weakness. A lot of bad actors around the world see that. And that really whets their appetite to be able to do things that are going to be very harmful for the world.”
When questioned about his willingness to employ tariffs as a means to prompt change from China, DeSantis responded affirmatively, stating, "Yeah, I would."
“I think that what you need to do, if you’re going to target a particular industry in China like that, you need to make sure we have incentives here in the United States to bring that industry home,” he added. “It will raise the price of the China product, but we got to make sure it’s economical here in the United States.”
“So you need to have — couple that with tax incentives, tax credits, and even for things that are really important like semiconductors,” DeSantis continued. “You know, I would be willing to support government support on that. I typically wouldn’t do that. Because, you know, generally the market does. But I think some of these things are so important for national security, we’ve got to be willing to lean in on that.”