2024 Global Development Forum: Keynote Remarks and Fireside Discussion with Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI)

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This transcript is from a CSIS event hosted on April 18, 2024. Watch the full video here.

Daniel F. Runde: OK. Thanks, everybody. Good morning and welcome to our eighth CSIS Development Forum. We could not have done this without our partners at Chevron. Chevron, you have been such a great friend. Thank you so much. I’m really, really grateful to you. I also want to thank Noam Unger and Madeleine McLean, along with the extended team at CSIS, for all your efforts to make this happen. Thank you so much.

This year’s GDF will explore many of the challenges and opportunities we face in the Global South. Clearly, the United States and the rest of the world are interdependent. I would argue, the world is a much better place with American leadership. Much of that leadership requires non-military forms of our power, including development and other forms of soft power. And that’s why I wrote my book, “The American Imperative.”

To begin our forum today, we’re going to hear from my friend, Chairman Mike Gallagher. I’m really pleased that Congressman Gallagher is here for one of his last public events as chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. I understand that he’s extending his stay in D.C. through Saturday to help with the Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and border bills. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for doing that. It’s really important.

I’ve known Congressman Gallagher for a long time. I’m not going to go through a long version of his biography. He was a U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. He twice deployed to Iraq. He speaks Arabic. He was also a Republican staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But I got to know him best when he was the foreign policy adviser to Governor Walker’s campaign for president in 2015. I’m proud to say I was one of the folks who encouraged then-civilian Mike Gallagher to run for office.

Two of my kids, Danny and Benji, and I knocked on 100 doors for him in Green Bay, Wisconsin in October 2016. That was a bribe. I made them – I said, you can go to a Green Bay Packers game if you knock on 100 doors from Mike Gallagher. (Laughter.) And it worked. So but I’ve told my children that Chairman Gallagher is someone they can look up to in public life, and they really do. So he’s done an incredible public service through his work as chairman of the select committee. Mr. Chairman, I want to flag that you have the finest staffers in the U.S. Congress working at the select committee. The work your committee has done has been some of the most consequential work of this Congress. That’s true.

In my book, I argue that we have a bipartisan consensus agreeing that we have a problem with the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s murderous regime. However, we do not yet have a bipartisan consensus about what the heck to do about this. So I think a big part of the work of the select committee has been to help us identify some of the steps that we need to do to do something about this problem. So I know, Congressman, that you’re, quote/unquote, “retiring from Congress.” But I hope this is not your last act in public life.

So, Chairman Gallagher, thank you for being with us today. I’m going to turn the floor over to you now. Please welcome Chairman Mike Gallagher. (Applause.)

Representative Mike Gallagher: Thank you, Dan. I vividly remember when you came to Green Bay, Wisconsin with your kids, and bribed them. It was very effective. It was a very effective bribe. (Laughter.) So if I ever run for office in the future, I’m going to need that same whole-of-Runde commitment – team Rundy.

Well, thank you for having me here today in this incredible facility. Thanks to everyone who made this event possible. Thanks to Dan for his intellectual leadership. Dan has spent two decades working on development issues and watching the Chinese Communist Party burrow its way into international institutions firsthand. He’s seen Beijing’s emissaries arrive in capitals around the world with cash and promises of infrastructure investment. He’s seen why it’s so important for America to be there to offer an alternative. You could say he wrote the book on the subject, and he did. And I strongly recommend this book. I think even blurbed this book, Dan. So we have a no limits partnership, Dan and I. (Laughter.)

I want to be blunt. I believe we are in a new Cold War with the Chinese Communist Party, with a great-power adversary that’s able to compete with us economically, not just militarily. And I believe if we lose, it will not just be a matter of different spheres of influence but, in some ways, it could be the end of the democratic system, both around the world and even here at home. It’s a cold war fought not on the military battlefield but in the corridors of the United Nations in New York and the capitals of more than 100 countries around the world. It’s a contest over ports, bridges, mines, and 5G networks. Its weapons include loans, grants, aid, assistance, diplomacy, even medicine. And the stakes include the autonomy of the Global South, whether international institutions will truly be free, and ultimately the destiny of humanity.

The CCP seeks not to liberate the people of the Global South from poverty, but to forge new chains of debt and digital surveillance with which to suppress them, enslave them. The CCP spreads their vision of authoritarianism by exporting surveillance technology and infrastructure to client dictatorships, creating a network of client states. Through initiatives like the Digital Silk Road, they entrench their influence. And as members of the select committee witnessed firsthand during a trip to the Solomon Islands last year, this can have devastating consequences. The CCP seeks to monopolize the supply chains for natural resources such as cobalt, copper, and rare earth elements that are vital to the global economy.

They lock in countries, like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bolivia. They lock them into exploitative, corrupt deals. Their vision for the Global South is one of debt-trap diplomacy where the CCP and local cartels share the spoils and the natural resources extracted from beneath the feet of millions travel along one road to one destination and that’s to Beijing.

This is a vision – their vision is a common destiny for mankind where the CCP rules through dependent authoritarian proxies and billions can look forward to the future that the Chinese people suffer under today.

This is a world where they hold a monopoly on the processing of raw materials such as lithium and rare earth elements, where a transition to an electric future means trading energy independence for dependence on a regime that’s actively working to displace us and drive a wedge between us and our allies and partner.

This is a world where they control international organizations and rules apply to every country but one, where the Chinese chairman of the International Telecom Union champions Huawei and the United Nations industrial development organization promotes the Belt and Road Initiative.

America’s engagement in the Global South, therefore, is not merely about countering the CCP’s development and investment strategies but also recognizing that political and economic independence must go hand in hand. Halting the spread of Chinese communist authoritarianism, advancing the economic security of the United States and its allies, and promoting sustainable development worldwide go hand in hand.

Where the CCP seeks to export authoritarianism, the United States should advance freedom, transparency, and democratic governance. Where they seek to exploit resources, the United States should promote investment to help countries move up the value chain in critical industries.

Where the CCP seeks to control international bodies, America must rally behind credible alternative candidates for key offices. And, most importantly, the United States must understand that it’s not 1995 anymore. We can no longer just dictate the global rules unchallenged, not in the Taiwan Strait, not, as we learned, in Ukraine or the Middle East, and not in Latin America or Africa.

We cannot tell nations to avoid trade with the CCP unless we can offer them comparable products at competitive prices. We cannot tell these nations to avoid Belt and Road investment unless we can connect them with Western firms willing to build infrastructure or manage ports.

We cannot tell them to avoid Huawei unless we can offer them an alternative method to connect their populations to the internet. We cannot tell them to avoid Chinese vaccines or treatments unless we can make our own available.

They know the CCP. They do not trust the CCP, either to deliver a quality product or not use its leverage for coercion. They know of Sri Lanka, forced into economic collapse because of debts incurred building a port, which Beijing recently repossessed.

They see how Angola has turned to the West after firsthand exposure to the low quality of Chinese infrastructure projects. But, most importantly, they know the United States. They can contrast the CCP’s record in Pakistan, Burma, and Iran with the success stories of post-World War II South Korea, Germany, and Japan.

The selfishness of a Beijing loan condition – they can contrast with a genuine win-win approach of the Marshall Plan. These American success stories are not just in the past. Before Plan Colombia, that nation was seen as a failed state. Now it’s a democracy that is among the most prosperous in Latin America.

Twenty years ago, AIDS was an angel of death stalking the continent of Africa. USAID’s PEPFAR did not just save the lives of millions of Africans from AIDS; they restored the confidence of a generation, allowing them to plan for a future they could not otherwise have imagined.

America should accept the credit for saving 25 million lives and then build on that opportunity by putting the private sector to work. We need to engage directly with governments in the Global South, track opportunities such as ports coming up for sale, and work closely to provide alternative sources of investment.

When American officials undertake high-level visits they should not shy away from connecting officials in the Global South with American firms who can do a better job than their Chinese competitors.

We need to step up to aggressively counter CCP influence in multilateral institutions. That means wielding our own weight against Chinese cooption and recruiting viable alternative candidates for global leadership roles rather than just waiting until after Beijing’s picks have secured an election.

We need to recognize that political security and economic security are intertwined and do a better job of aligning the Department of Defense with our economic development agencies. The recent coups in the Sahel of Africa provide an example of what may happen when we focus solely on counterinsurgency or military matters while allowing Chinese and Russian interests to dominate everything else. We need to change the entire mindset of U.S. international investment and stop viewing development and aid as charity.

Calvin Coolidge famously said once that the chief business of America is business. I think that remains largely true today, in the 21st century. The power of the American private sector remains the secret weapon that our adversaries cannot match. Beijing may offer cheap credit to state-owned enterprises doing cheap work, but America, particularly when we’re working together with our partners around the world, can do better. We can mobilize our capital markets, our private investors, and free enterprise to help the cause. This is a strategic priority, and we should treat it as such. Our contributions have transformed the lives of millions, and the population of the Global South is ready to take their place in the sun, with the confidence we have done much to inspire. But if the CCP are the only ones who are willing to build roads and ports or telecom networks, of course they’ll go with that option. Being there for the Global South is not about charity, it’s about championing our own national interests.

And before I turn the mic back over to Dan, I would like to take a moment to reflect on my own modest role in this struggle. As I’m sure – as Dan alluded to and I’m sure many of you are aware, my time in Congress and my time as chairman of the Select Committee of the CCP will soon come to an end. And I know there have been some here at CSIS who have been critical of the committee’s work and my own rhetoric, arguing that it feeds into paranoia and questioning whether I was making a cynical political ploy. I thought a lot about this sort of criticism as people have asked me how I would like the committee and its work to be remembered. And part of that answer is very easy. Of course I want our work to be remembered as a thorough, good-faith, and, in some ways, revolutionary approach that was comprehensive and bipartisan in nature.

But that’s not all. It might surprise you that in some ways I’d like our work to be remembered 10 years from now as alarmist. That might seem strange; after all, when this committee was first formed, that’s what most of our most strident critics called us. But the truth is that every night I pray that we’re wrong about the brutal, tyrannical essence of the Chinese Communist Party. I hope that Xi Jinping alters his course. I hope that in 10 years Taiwan remains a thriving democracy, a beacon of hope. I hope freedoms return to Hong Kong. I hope the concentration camps are emptied in Xinjiang. I hope the colonial boarding schools are closed in Tibet and the Dalai Lama is able to return. And I hope that the CCP ends its corrosive industrial policy, stops its wholesale IP theft, grants freedom to its citizens, halts its spiraling military buildup and territorial ambition, and, as we uncovered in a bipartisan report released earlier this week, that it stops subsidizing the onslaught of fentanyl that’s destroying communities across this nation. And if the price for all these things is that our committee or that me in particular are remembered as operating in good faith but being alarmist, then that’s a price I would pay a million times over.

But in the absence of divine intervention, winning this competition, winning the new cold war will be very difficult. It will be simple but not easy. We must answer the call of history to defend our interests and our values against authoritarian aggression across every domain. It will take dogged and bipartisan work day in and day out for years and, in all likelihood, decades. But as I’d like to think, and as our little committee has proven, Republicans and Democrats can still work together and rise to the occasion, as generations of Americans did before us throughout the 20th century. It’s a proud tradition and it’s been some of my most rewarding work, and one of the great honors of my lifetime to participate in this in Congress.

So in conclusion, I want to thank you all for having me here today. I want to thank Dan for his excellent contribution to this debate and his leadership and, again, for just the excellent work that is manifested in the book he’s recently published. Thank you for listening. Look forward to your questions. (Applause.)

Mr. Runde: I’ve waited 10 years for a speech like that. Oh, my lord. Thank you, Congressman. That was amazing. I’m moved. I’m emotionally moved. Thank you so much. That was amazing.

Rep. Gallagher: I wanted to make him cry.

Mr. Runde: You made me cry. (Laughter.)

So, Congressman, let me first start with –

Rep. Gallagher: Was it too alarmist?

Mr. Runde: No, it was perfect. Thank you so much. You spoke the truth.

I want to – we have a vote on Ukraine. So there are several fronts of the challenge. There’s Taiwan. There’s Israel. There’s Ukraine. I’ve made three trips in the last 12 months to Ukraine; I took six members of Congress two weeks ago. I consider it the most consequential thing CSIS will do. My colleague Elizabeth Hoffman, it was her idea. I was her wingman. We took eight staffers in August. Are we going to have a bill passed out of the House of Representatives in the next 72 hours on Ukraine?

Rep. Gallagher: I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m cautiously optimistic. And I have to give the speaker of the House enormous credit for moving forward, despite a lot of opposition from within the Republican Party and despite a lot of criticism. And I think we have a real chance in the next 72 hours to pass something that will be incredibly consequential for the free world. Not just assistance to Ukraine, but assistance to Taiwan and assistance to Israel. And if we get this done, it will be a big, big deal. So I just – again, I don’t want to jinx it. (Applause.) I mean, and I told the speaker, I’ll stay, you know, to make that happen.

Mr. Runde: So he’s staying over. He was going to leave – the chairman was going to leave tomorrow, but he’s staying an extra overtime to help to make sure that the vote gets done.

Rep. Gallagher: Well, I just would say – even if you’re a Democrat, the speaker, he’s moving forward. And he needs our support. This is a very difficult thing. And he’s exhausted all the other alternatives. He’s tried in good faith to get a compromise. There just are some people that do not want to compromise or accept the realities of divided government. I mean, nobody gets 100 percent of what they want, even when, you know, one party controls all three branches. When you have divided government, it’s much more difficult. So it’s going to take give and take. And I think if we’re able to get that vote on Saturday night, we will have proved the Churchill maxim, which is that America can always be counted on to do the right thing after we’ve exhausted all the other alternatives. So. (Laughter.)

Mr. Runde: Right. OK. So, Congressman, one of the things – one of the – we’ve had something like 3 million students from mainland China study in the United States. I think that’s ultimately net-net a very, very good thing. There’s been some criticism of some Chinese students studying here. China has become a great power in higher education. I hosted the Pakistani ambassador here three weeks ago. And I said – whenever I visit a developing country I ask two questions now: Where do you buy your weapons systems from? Because that matters in terms of where they – how they vote in things like the United Nations. And it’s also sort of to say, like, who your long-term partners are.

But the second is, where do you send your elites to study, is my second question. So if they say Beijing, I get nervous because I want the next finance minister of Pakistan to call Boston not Beijing, you know, after they – when they become finance minister. He told me there’s 10,000 Pakistani studying in the U.S. I said, oh, that’s great. He said, that’s not great, because we have 30,000 Pakistanis studying in China. So talk a little bit about the role of having students come here. And then, second, are you OK with having students from the – from mainland China studying in the United States?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. Well, I think it’s true that Xi Jinping’s daughter went to Harvard.

Mr. Runde: She did. And the foreign minister’s daughter or kid went to Yale.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. And I assume Xi sent his daughter to Harvard so that she could sort of really learn up close what communism means.

Mr. Runde: (Laughs.) Or how to be woke? How to be woke? Bring the woke thing back to China.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just kidding. No. OK, so here’s the dilemma. Obviously, I understand – I understand the logic of, you know, students – if they study here, and they get exposed to America, you know, good things will happen. And then they’ll bring that back to China. And then we’ll just develop people-to-people ties. Like I – there’s, like, a logic to that that I accept. The challenge, as I think Alex Joske’s work has revealed quite convincingly in Australia, and it is true in the United States, is that there are a lot of PRC-affiliated researchers that are there to steal intellectual property and spy on America.

And so when we – when the previous administration instituted the PRC – the PLA-affiliated researcher ban, the challenge – it was it was directionally right. But the colleges struggled to comply with it because they don’t have, like, a counterintelligence capability, right? We can’t ask Harvard or University Wisconsin to be doing deep investigations into, OK, who’s a legitimate PRC researcher student versus who is someone who’s just spying on behalf of the government? That’s the balance we need to try and strike. And it’s an area where the FBI and our own intelligence agencies are going to have to have a productive relationship with higher education.

Mr. Runde: Right. Sorry, if it’s a 45-year-old guy who spent 20 years in the PLA and now as a mid-career grad student who wants to study AI, maybe that’s a problem, as opposed to an 18-year-old who wants to study comparative literature, right? It’s more complicated than that, but isn’t that a thing –

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. But perhaps this is an area, as in so many areas of our economic and diplomatic and cultural issue with China, where insisting on a better measure of reciprocity would be good for our interests, right – have parity in terms of the number of students that are allowed in China, compared to the number of students that we allow here. But it’s a very, very difficult –

Mr. Runde: Yeah. My two rules are you can’t – I learned these words from my kids – you can’t narc on a fellow student. So if they want to go to an Evangelical church or they want to go to a Catholic church, they can’t be narc-ed on by their fellow students back home. That’s the first – it seems like a simple, reasonable ask. And the second stuff is just don’t steal. Don’t do soft-spying stuff.

I mean, it seems to me like those are minimum asks, and if we can come to that agreement, we’ll be fine, right? I mean, isn’t that basically the two minimal asks we’d make?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. I would maybe add a third, which is we’ve – one of the first things we did on the committee was go up to Columbia. And we talked to some students there, both Chinese students and Hong Kongers and Taiwanese students, about the transnational repression that they had experienced on campus, in some cases being physically assaulted by sort of pro-CCP students that were then connected to innocuous-sounding nonprofits like the Chinese Student Scholars Association that are really directing them to suppress speech that is – that is unfavorable to the regime on American campuses. So that’s an area where I think leaders of universities could step up and do more just to protect their own students.

Incidentally, I once thought that I wanted to pursue, like, an academic career, but I’ve now realized that the politics of higher education is too hard for me for that. (Laughs.)

Mr. Runde: It’s horrible. Yeah, you thought – you thought working on the Hill was hard; maybe academic politics is worse. (Laughs.)

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yes. Maybe one day.

Mr. Runde: OK. All right. So one of the things I worry about is that 20 years ago, or in the year 2000, something like 80 percent of the world’s countries, the U.S. was the number-one trading partner.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah.

Mr. Runde: Today, China is the top trading partner for, I don’t know – I don’t know if it’s – it’s now the top trading partner for more than 120 countries. So in essence, it’s flipped. So 25 years ago, we were the number-one trading partner for dozens and dozens and dozens of countries, and that has all sorts of implications – our ability to interact with countries, et cetera. Today, that’s flipped: China’s the number-one trading partner. Should we be rethinking our trade policy, given that fact?

Rep. Gallagher: Yes. I think the fact that trade has become a four-letter word in both parties is a massive geopolitical own goal. It’s a huge gap in our overall grand strategy, particularly if you accept, as I do, that I think our economic relationship with China is going to get more competitive. Put differently, I think –

Mr. Runde: More scratchy?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. I think selective decoupling or robust derisking, whatever we’re calling it now, will continue, for reasons that have less to do with, like, the more hawkish consensus on Capitol Hill and calls to remove PNTR and more to do with the fact that Xi Jinping is trying to decouple from us in key areas. So if you accept that that’s going to happen, I think it puts a greater burden on us to have a proactive trade policy that breaks down economic and technological barriers certainly within the core of the free world, like our AUKUS partners, with whom we still struggle to share key technology because of outdated ITAR regulation, but also –

Mr. Runde: Sorry, what’s ITAR regulation, first?

Rep. Gallagher: International Trafficking in Arms Regulation, sort of well-intentioned legislation so that we don’t share, you know –

Mr. Runde: Don’t share some widget that can be used for weapons.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, to kill things, yeah.

Mr. Runde: Right? Dual use.

Rep. Gallagher: But right now we need to share things with the Aussies and the Brits, and we’re not able to. If you want to –

Mr. Runde: Or the Ukrainians.

Rep. Gallagher: Exactly. But if we – if we can’t sort of move forward on big multilateral trade agreements, at a minimum we could – we could embark on a series of bilateral agreements – a post-Brexit gold-standard agreement with the U.K., sectoral agreements with Japan, a free-trade agreement with Taiwan. We have a double-taxation agreement with Taiwan that was passed in our latest tax bill the Senate needs to pass. And then you can start doing creative regional things like a regional digital trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific. We just have to revitalize that proactive trade agenda, particularly in order to combat the costs of a more competitive economic relationship with the PRC.

Mr. Runde: We have – there’s something called the African Growth and Opportunity Act. It’s called AGOA. It’s a trade-preferences act. It ends October 1 of 2025. We’ve done about eight events around this issue. I’m driven to put energy into this issue because I think it’s part of a – I mean, we need to have a different kind of a partnership with Africa. There’s several hundred million middle class in Africa. There’s more cellphones in Africa than in the United States and Europe combined. I believe that’s statistically true; someone can fact-check me on that. We need a different kind of a partnership. I think AGOA’s a vector for that. And there – but at the same time, when we put AGOA into place 25 years ago the world was a different place, Africa was a different place, our relationship with Africa was different. It seems to me that the kinds of things you’re talking about could also be included as we think about a new AGOA, which will have to be dealt with over sort of the next 12 months.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah.

Mr. Runde: So – and I think, for example, a lot of the – there are a number of critical minerals in Africa and a number of countries would want to perhaps, you know, have some kind of a different kind of a relationship on that, so.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. I wonder if there’s something upstream of all that, too, which is I think we have, like, a dearth of expertise in these areas. I mean, I know you’re an expert, but it’s –

Mr. Runde: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rep. Gallagher: Like, I was part of a generation of, like, budding national security professionals who all rushed to learn Arabic and focus on the Middle East because that was sort of the shiny object, right? And I think there’s something similar happening right now with respect to China, I would imagine. But when it comes to all these countries that are critical, particularly in the Global South but even just in China’s neighborhood, right, I still don’t think we have requisite deep regional –

Mr. Runde: How many people know anything about Central Asia?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, or Indonesia, or even the Philippines.

Mr. Runde: Or the Pacific – or the Pacific Islands, right?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, yeah, I mean, which is absolutely critical. And so finding a way both in the think-tank community, but also in the way we develop careers in the military and the intelligence community to develop that deep regional expertise in areas that tend to get overlooked I think is connected to that, if not upstream.

Mr. Runde: I hundred percent agree. I’d say much of my work here – and I can’t do this all by myself – has been to try and focus on overlooked countries in the Global South because I think that’s one of the critical theaters in great-power competition.

Rep. Gallagher: Totally.

Mr. Runde: So I agree with you.

  1. Let’s talk about ports. There’s been lots of research at think tanks like ours saying, like, there’s a lot of ports being taken over by the Chinese Communist Party. That’s great in terms of analyzing that there’s a problem; what the hell do we do about it, I think, is a different problem. So how should we think about the fact that, you know, they’re able to – you made some remarks about this from your formal remarks, but how should we think about things like ports?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. Well, I do think shining a light on the scale and scope of the problem is step one. I think it’s something like 80 percent of the world’s ports are now controlled by Chinese companies. ZPMC controls 90 percent of the world’s smart cranes, including in our own ports – in, like, the ports of Miami and things like that. Incidentally, I went down there with one of our committee members, Carlos Gimenez, and had to climb up into one of those smart cranes. And I realized I was afraid of heights, which I didn’t know before. (Laughter.) But when it comes to how do you – how do you do something about it, I don’t have a silver bullet solution.

Mr. Runde: I don’t either.

Rep. Gallagher: I thought, well, you’re the expert.

Mr. Runde: Yeah, I’m supposed to – yeah, I’m supposed to think some deep thoughts and come back with a clever answer.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. (Laughs.)

Mr. Runde: I don’t know what the hell do we do about this. But we did a session on this earlier this week. And I said to this group, like, what the hell do we do about this? And we talked about, like, it’s a problem. But I think we kind of had like a collective, you know, kind of like Montessori meeting that didn’t fully kind of come up with an answer. So I think that’s – more research needed, right? And it’s an employment program for people at think tanks like mine, right?

Rep. Gallagher: We have – we have some related recommendations in the report we put out at the end of last year on economic and technological competition of the CCP. Which is a bipartisan report. If you kind of look more broadly, we talk about reforming and modernizing DFC and Ex-Im to make it more strategic, to make it more risk acceptant, particularly when it comes to countering BRI. We recently did fund the State Department’s Countering PRC Influence shop in the last omnibus bill. Which was a good thing. And I think there’s more, as you know better than anybody, we could do to develop good governance in the Global South, so that they’re able to invest, and their investments align with ours.

Mr. Runde: Yeah. I know I’m going to get the hook in a second, but the – one of our allies came to the U.S. government about a year ago and said, hey, there are these – there is this undersea cable in the South Pacific. You guys for sure – you’re an AID – you, for sure, have, like, this safe in the wall. Could you just, like, open the safe? We need, like, 100 million bucks, like, right now. And could you just, like, build an undersea cable? Because, like, otherwise the Chinese are going to build this between two islands I can’t find on a map, Chairman.

So there’s a series of challenges like that, that aren’t kind of – like, our current toolkit isn’t prepared for. Because, like, there’s not a safe in the USAID administrator’s office, like, oh, yes, I’ve got $100 million right here. I’ll just – we’ll just Western Union it, or whatever you do these days, Venmo, or whatever the hell you do. And say we’ll just Venmo it and we’ll just build another undersea cable between two islands I can’t pronounce the names of and can’t find on the map, but it’s super-duper important.

So I think whether it’s ports and smart cranes, I didn’t know what the hell a smart crane was until 20 minutes ago, and then – or these undersea cables, we’ve got a whole series of challenges because the Chinese Communist Party is a near peer soft power competitor. And if we leave voids they will fill it, especially in the Global South. So we’re going to have to, like, relook at our toolkit and say, like, well, we got to update some things or do some things. How do we work with our allies, the Five Eyes or others? And then also how do we bring in the private sector? A lot of things you were talking about, but – right?

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. I think about it. So Matt Pottinger and I recently wrote an article in Foreign Affairs kind of laying out our – what we thought was a fair critique of the Biden administration’s approach on China, and then kind of an alternative strategy, which we sort of lump under this banner of rearm, reduce, recruit. Obviously prioritizing hard power in order to deter a CCP invasion of Taiwan. Reducing our economic dependency in key areas on China. But then recruiting other partners and allies into our framework. And I think about it in my own head as, like, a series of concentric circles.

As I alluded to before, the beating heart of the free world is probably AUKUS and Five Eyes, right? Those are the allies with whom we share the most in terms of values and other things – and secrets. But then you kind of extend the concentric circle out to Japan, NATO countries, and then you got to really start expanding it even further and constantly be with countries that don’t fit neatly into those categories, whether it’s Vietnam, whether it’s Thailand, I mean, take your pick. Just trying to find ways to work more closely with them and get them to Finlandize in our direction, to use an old Cold War term.

Mr. Runde: So in my book, I have, like, three bumper stickers. And one of my bumper stickers is we need a positive forward-looking agenda for countries in the Global South, that speak to their hopes and aspirations. And if we don’t do that properly, they’re going to take their business to the Chinese Communist Party.

Rep. Gallagher: Yeah. Could I add one thing? I guess again, in respect for, you know, sometimes, like, congressional delegations get a lot of criticism because, you know, the members will go and, you know, they’ll spend a week in New Zealand with their spouses on the –

Mr. Runde: And drink champagne or something.

Rep. Gallagher: Exactly. But done right, that type of diplomacy – and it is that – can have a big impact. And nobody did it better, at least that I’ve seen, than John McCain.

Mr. Runde: Totally.

Rep. Gallagher: He was kind enough to take me to Halifax when I was a member elect. I wasn’t even a real member. I remember this because he kept calling Adam Kinzinger, Kissinger, which I thought was funny. (Laughter.) But just to see the seriousness with which he would approach these bilateral meetings with foreign ministers in all sorts of countries – big, medium, small – and just the op tempo he had at these events, and the reaction he got from those countries, and how big of a deal it was to meet with a congressional delegation led by John McCain. I mean, I don’t know, obviously you just got to be there. You got to stay engaged. You got to develop those relationships. That is, like, what the free world is right? It’s just these sinews of relationships that we have to keep reifying over and over.

Mr. Runde: I really miss him. And I took my oldest son to the state funeral for John McCain. He just – it’s such a void.

So, Chairman, we’re going to miss you on Capitol Hill. I understand you have to – you need to make this decision. But please don’t make this be your last public act, if you will, please. We need to in public life. Please thank my friend, Chairman, Mike Gallagher, for being with us today.

Rep. Gallagher: Thank you all. Appreciate it. (Applause.) Thanks, Dan. Thanks, Dan. That was fun, yeah. Appreciate it, yeah.

Mr. Runde: Thank you.

Rep. Gallagher: Great. Thank you. (Applause.)