Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is blasting America’s political and corporate elites as “the number one reason” China has become “as powerful as they are” as he moves to detangle the state’s finances from China-owned companies.
During a State Board of Administration meeting this week, DeSantis went after the nation’s ruling class for their propping up of China via allowing the communist country to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO) and supporting decades-long free trade policy that has gutted domestic manufacturing.
From 2001 to 2018, U.S. free trade with China eliminated 3.7 million American jobs from the economy — 2.8 million of which were lost in American manufacturing. During that same period, at least 50,000 American manufacturing plants closed down.
“If you go back a generation, the idea was if we make China into the WTO … that sent a lot of American production capacity over to China,” DeSantis said:
The American elites thought ‘Well, that will make China more like us, they won’t be a rogue country, they’ll respect human rights, and maybe become more democratic.’ And the reality is, not only has that not happened, it’s made China very powerful and the elites in the U.S. are the number one reason China is as powerful as they are with all that they’ve done. [Emphasis added]
But not only has it not improved China’s political culture, they’re arguably worse than they were even 20 to 30 years ago. And if anything, not only have the West … not influenced them to be more like the West tradition, they’re influencing the West to be more like them. If you look at how some of these major companies will behave when faced with Chinese disapproval, they will censor, they will do all these things, you’ll see groveling apologies … so the whole experiment with China has been a big failure for the United States. [Emphasis added]
We saw it when covid first hit … people wanted masks and all these other things and all of it was being produced in China. They basically controlled all of this. They have a lot of control over components of our economy which affects our national security and so I think that the U.S. as a whole should be disentangling from China but certainly our investments should be disentangling. [Emphasis added]
DeSantis made the remarks as he moved to revoke all proxy voting authority previously given to outside fund managers and introduced a plan to review all investments of the Florida Retirement System to see how many assets the state has in China-owned companies.
“China is not somebody that we should want to have any relationship with,” DeSantis said.
“I also think that our country as a whole, but certainly Florida … I would like to see more production and manufacturing re-shored and we would be a great place to do that,” DeSantis continued:
I know they don’t treat their workers well, they basically have parts that are just literally slave labor and so people want to save money on that. One, that’s not the right thing to do, but two it’s a very volatile political culture, you don’t really have any rights over there. I would do something in Florida where you can come, give them no taxes for however many years. I think it would be really, really good for the state, and for our country, to get that stuff out of China as best as we can. [Emphasis added]
In June, DeSantis signed legislation to ban Confucious Institutes in Florida and created new criminal statutes for the theft and trafficking of trade secrets.