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'We've Got The Stick': Rand Paul Tells Blinken Scolding, Implementing Sanctions On China Wasn't Working

'Nobody's really considering that there's a carrot'

'We've Got The Stick': Rand Paul Tells Blinken Scolding, Implementing Sanctions On China Wasn't Working

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken to task over what appeared to be performative and unsubstantial tactics of implementing tariffs, sanctions, and "scolding" China for selling dual-use parts to Russia.

During a Tuesday Senate hearing, Paul asked Blinken if publicly scolding China would make them more or less likely to cease their exports to Russia, to which the secretary of state said his administration had "tried it both ways."

"We've had these conversations with Russia for some time," he said, noting conversations had privately occurred in hopes to see a change. "We haven't seen that, and it's important."

Paul pushed back on Blinken, claiming only one method had been employed before invoking a metaphor for Blinken's tactics.

"We've got the stick and almost the majority of people who work for you, everybody wants to use the stick," he said. "Nobody's really considering that there's a carrot."

The Kentucky senator suggested there was little difference between Blinken and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"There is a school of philosophy, or school of diplomacy that believes that public scolding, particularly in another country, can have the opposite effects," Paul said.

Paul then noted Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen had similarly advised the Chinese government on how their economy should be run and which sectors should or should not be subsidized and threatened to impose sanctions if they failed to comply.

"I think it's a misunderstanding of diplomacy in general to think that you going and scolding the Chinese, Yellen going and scolding the Chinese, that somehow they're gonna like go, 'Oh my goodness. We've been wrong all along, and because they've yelled at us, and treated us like school children, we're now going to change,'" Paul said. "I would think that the opposite might be true, that there might be a certain amount of child psychology to criticizing people and that, like a rebellious teenager, they actually might end up doing more."

Paul noted tariffs have also been discussed in addition to sanctions.

"The thing about tariffs, regardless of who pays them, when you add tariffs, are you gonna threaten sanctions, you're gonna scold them ... [is it] more or less likely that they'll do what you want?" Paul said, noting American consumers would ultimately bear the brunt of the cost.

"I think less likely," the Kentucky senator added.

Paul panned the tactics of Blinken and Pompeo's administration for garnering less trade and incentivizing disengagement from China.

"The threat of sanctions, the threat of tariffs actually have some effects if you're willing to remove them," Paul said. "Nobody ever talks about removing them, but that's how you get behavior to change."

Paul said the threat of tariffs was a "misunderstanding" of the larger picture before giving a final point of criticism.

"The Ukrainians still claim that victory includes the reclamation of all of its territory," he continued, noting NATO allies questioned Ukraine's odds of securing said victory.

The Kentucky senator then cited Czech President Peter Pavel's recent remarks suggesting Ukraine reclaiming occupied territories from Russia was a "naive" concept.

"The commander and general of the Ukrainian army, until he was fired by Zelenskyy, had the same sort of comments," Paul said. "I think that it's not an unreasonable thing to believe this war may well end in a stalemate with people in place, some say, similar to the way Korea was."

"Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. Nobody agrees the Russians should be there. But they're there, and they have a bigger army, and more might than their neighbor," he added.

Paul said Ukraine's promise to "remain a neutral country" was one of the few negotiating items the country possessed.

"Yet you have repeatedly ruled out Ukraine remaining outside of NATO," Paul said. "If you take this off the table, you're taking off one of the things that actually is a negotiating item."

The Kentucky senator then asked Blinken if there were any situation where "neutrality of Ukraine" could be a point of negotiation.

"If you want to look at hectoring and haranguing, I would invite you to look at the website of the Chinese foreign ministry on a daily basis," Blinken responded. "I'm not gonna apologize to anyone for standing up for American workers, and American companies."

The U.S. secretary of state said he tried to engage partners and adversaries diplomatically and quietly to "see if we can get the result."

"If we don't then we'll have to use every means at our disposal. Including calling them out," Blinken said as Paul attempted to cut the secretary of state off, though yielded. "What we are seeing now ... is China very deliberately using over capacity in critical sectors to export its way out of economic troubles, and to do that in a way that undercuts, and indeed could gut, our own workers and industries."

Paul reiterated his point, asking if there was an offer where the United States would "undo" a tariff or sanction in exchange for better behavior on behalf of China.

"The offer would have to be to say to the government quietly or otherwise that we would be willing to go in the opposite direction," Paul said, noting he had not heard public discussion from Congress nor President Joe Biden's administration.

In response, Blinken said if objectionable conduct that risked "terrible damage" to American workers, communities, and companies was remedied, then tariffs and sanctions would be removed.

Paul pushed back by asking if Blinken had specifically discussed not implementing tariffs or sanctions in exchange for China ceasing its export of dual-use parts to Russia.

"Sure, if their companies don't engage in that practice, we're not gonna sanction them," Blinken said.

"I didn't hear any public statements of that," Paul said, asking if Blinken had made private statements to Chinese President Xi Jinping insisting sanctions and tariffs would not be implemented in exchange for "better behavior."

Blinken reiterated his previous remark, to which the Kentucky senator insisted: "If you want it to occur, you have to have a little conception of you've got the stick."

"The whole problem of diplomacy in this country, not just your administration but the previous, is all you see is the stick, all you see is more sanctions," he continued. "And if I ask you to tell me what has China done to change its behavior based on your sanctions, to change their behavior for the better, I would say you can't come up with anything John is doing."

"Everything seems to be the wrong direction," Paul concluded. "That seems to be your interpretation. Everything seems to be in the wrong direction."

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