US, UK have golden opportunity to strengthen special relationship, stand strong against China: Sen. Rick Scott

June 5, 2020

Fox Business
Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
June 5, 2020

Britain’s exit from the EU came with many challenges, but also with significant opportunities.

First among them is a renewed sense of optimism for a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and the United Kingdom.

When I traveled to London last year, I met with Secretary Fox, who served as the U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2019 and Secretary of State for Defence from 2010 to 2011, to discuss the shared goal of an equitable and mutually beneficial trade agreement between our two countries.

Florida, as a leader in the United States on international trade, is well-positioned to benefit from fair and equitable trade between our two countries. The U.K. is a top-five export market in 33 U.S. states (including Florida), supporting jobs up and down the country. States across the U.S. have jobs that are connected to an investment by a U.K. company.

An FTA would grow both the U.S. and U.K economies, creating high-skilled jobs and leading the way for other nations to improve trade. As a result of a U.S.-U.K. FTA, the U.K. Department for International Trade’s analysis suggests U.S. annual GDP could increase by almost $10 billion.

I’ve had many meetings with the U.K.’s new Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands, who is leading the negotiations between the United States and the United Kingdom, to reiterate my strong support for aggressive trade. We cannot let the Coronavirus pandemic stall the important progress being made.

One issue that the U.K. is taking positive steps to address is not allowing Huawei – a technology company backed and subservient to the Chinese Communist Party – access to their 5G network. This is vital to protecting the privacy rights of their citizens and any nation that shares valuable intelligence with the U.K.

The United States was right to keep Huawei out of our markets, and we continue to work to prevent any American company from working with Huawei.

Boris Johnson is right to reduce Huawei’s role in Britain’s 5G network, and I applaud his recent move to scale down China’s involvement in the U.K.’s infrastructure to zero by 2023. Keeping Huawei out of the U.K.’s 5G network is vital to ensuring Communist China can’t steal their citizens’ data and extend their influence across the world.

The Five Eyes Alliance, the intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, is one of the most important in the world, and the intelligence gathering and sharing that occurs under its auspices is invaluable to defending our respective homelands and supporting peace around the world. Anything that puts this alliance at risk is a threat to global security.

Communist China’s mission is to be the dominant world power. General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi will stop at nothing to grow communist China’s influence – through financial investment like the kind we see in Latin America and through infrastructure projects like the Hinkley Point nuclear plant in the U.K. and other technological developments and aggressive lobbying like we see with companies like Huawei.

Britain’s intelligence community, MI6 and MI5, have come out in support of reassessing the U.K.’s relationship with China after the coronavirus crisis subsides. They are urging the consideration of tighter control of high-tech sectors like digital communications and artificial intelligence, as well as whether Britain should reduce Chinese students’ access to research at universities and elsewhere.

These are conversations every nation needs to be having.

I’ve been warning about it for months, but communist China’s deception surrounding the coronavirus pandemic is the last straw. It doesn’t matter to communist China that their lies and misinformation killed hundreds of thousands around the world.

It doesn’t matter to communist China that they are supporting Maduro’s genocide in Venezuela. Or that they’ve detained more than 1 million Uyghurs in internment and re-education camps simply because of their religion. Or that they’re threatening Hong Kong and Taiwan’s freedom and autonomy.

They want to expand their influence around the globe and are counting on fractured relationships between freedom-loving countries – often spurred by their intrusion into markets – to do it.

Brexit was a watershed moment in the history of Europe and, more importantly, the history of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. With trade negotiations ongoing, we must take this opportunity to cement our economic partnership for generations to come and stand united against the global threat presented by communist China. I hope we will reach a deal that is positive to both our nations.

We cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate. He is a former governor of Florida.