As the world continues to grapple with the sudden and senseless loss of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, many, including myself, have spoken about his legacy as a leader.
There is a lot to be said for Shinzo Abe. He was an unabashed believer in the power of democracy and one of the loudest voices for freedom in all of Info-Pacific. His years both in power and out of power were defined by his commitment to democratic order, the prosperity of Japan and its allies, and the strengthening of relations between Japan and the United States. He was particularly a champion of peace through strength and defended Taiwan against aggression from Communist China.
But praise, while undoubtedly deserved, is not enough. To honor the incredible legacy and work of Shinzo Abe, we must advance his vision of democracy, peace through strength, and prosperity across the region.
The day before Abe’s assassination, I was in Tokyo meeting with private sector executives, senior Japanese government officials, and US military personnel stationed there. Abe’s impact and significance on Japan’s government, defense strategy and foreign policy are clear.
The Japanese people recognize the importance of continuing Abe’s legacy of principled leadership in the region and the relevance of such leadership to United States national security, the security of our allies and partners, and the stability of the region. They also understand that America stands with Japan to maintain a position of strength.
Shinzo Abe was not afraid of threats from Communist China. He knew that bowing to tyrants like General Secretary Xi Jinping only weakens the power of democratic alliances and our rules-based global order. That’s why he fought to invest in Japan’s defense capabilities and fundamentally change the way the Japanese people perceived their nation’s role on the world stage.
Abe also knew that fighting communist China required a two-pronged approach, rooted in military might and economic independence. And he understood that strong alliances with democratic governments could keep bullies like Xi in check.
With Abe now gone from the scene, President Biden must make some serious adjustments to his stance on communist China and support the current Japanese leadership as they confront the threat from the Chinese mainland. Nothing could be more damaging to US national security and East Asian stability than weakness toward Communist China.
President Biden needs to recognize and be clear, like me and many others, that we are in the midst of a new Cold War with Communist China. Although the United States did not research this conflict, we cannot ignore it or downplay the threats it poses to democracy and security.
First, Biden must end his attempts to cut funding for our country’s military. In both of Biden’s proposed budgets since taking office, he has suggested defense spending so inadequate that even members of his own party have ignored his proposals. As communist China continues to expand its navy and threatens US military ships and aircraft, we cannot allow the world to believe that our armed forces are backing down.
Second, President Biden needs to recalibrate his approach to U.S.-China trade. It must clarify that it will not cancel existing tariffs on goods from Communist China. I believe, as outlined in my plan to save America, that we must phase out all imports from communist China until a new regime honors basic human rights and freedoms. In doing so, President Biden must also use the Commerce Department to ensure that as few US dollars as possible are spent to fund the Chinese military buildup and the human rights atrocities of Xi’s evil communist regime. . He can start by ditching his $52 BILLION “Chips Bill” which has horribly weak language that does not expressly prohibit the tens of billions of dollars of spending it authorizes to be spent in communist China. It is an inexcusable oversight and that is why we cannot let this flawed bill pass.
Biden must also stop the sale of U.S. oil to communist China and urge the private sector to end its reliance on Chinese manufacturing. Our ultimate goal must be to decouple our economies and rally our democratic and freedom-loving global partners to aggressively expand their presence in industries dominated by Communist China. If we can isolate Communist China, reduce its influence, and eliminate the threats it poses to the world, we will improve the national security of the United States and our allies.
Through strong military and trade alliances, the United States has the ability to create a world independent of communist China for trade, raw materials, minerals, and energy, and no longer fears its military threats. Shinzo Abe has worked to advance these goals. To honor his legacy, we must seize the opportunity now to carry his legacy into the future.
Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate and serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is the former Governor of Florida.