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Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks ahead of U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry’s testimony at the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability hearing assessing the State Department’s budget and climate agenda.


-Remarks as delivered-

No, thank you Chairman Mast for today’s hearing. And let me say first, before I get into my statement that I am working on a project, the International Conservation Act.

We have about 10 billionaires that want to provide, in a very generous manner, money to help us with conservation. Both wildlife conservation, fisheries from China, and the rainforest, which are the lungs of the planet.

And this will be a two to one match with the USG. Those are productive things. I think the self-imposed mandates that China doesn’t have to follow really makes no sense to me at all. But I want to thank you, Secretary, for being here today.

I know it’s not always pleasant appearing before Congress. But you will remember this – well on the Senate side, you remember this distinguished body for quite some time. Let me just start talking about China. And I know you’re getting- you’re preparing for a trip to China, as I understand is that correct, sir?

SP Envoy Kerry: Yes.

-Remarks continued as delivered-

And, as you know, we are in a global balance of power, competition, great power competition. They’ve increased their aggression in the Indo-Pacific, especially towards Taiwan. I just came back from Taiwan two months ago.

And I was greeted by an armada of battleships surrounding the island, an aircraft carrier and 70 fighter jets, conducting live fire exercises. And then I was sanctioned the last day I was there as we departed Taiwan. And I say that, not that I want any sympathy for that, other than to say it’s getting very aggressive. China is getting very hostile in the Pacific.

And we need to take this issue extremely seriously. I hope you will talk to them about their aggression in the region, as you talk to them about climate change. I believe that they are our greatest threat to our national security. I think countering China, and their malign agenda should be the top priority of the State Department.

And I’m concerned the administration is prioritizing their own sort of political agenda over this national security issue. When you look at China also, it’s disturbing. They’re not an honest broker. When it comes to addressing emission reduction, as you know.

They are held to a different standard than we are under the Paris Agreement. Yet they’re the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases and have shown no sign of relenting. They fire a coal plant up, you know, pretty much every day, if not week. And in the last few years, their greenhouse emissions have exceeded those of the United States and all developing nations combined. They are the number one offender of polluting the planet.

In fact, in 2021, after pledging to show “the highest possible ambition to address climate change,” they added the equivalent going back to the coal plants of 100 coal power plants to their grid.

Same year, China had a record of increases in emissions under the Paris Climate Accords, as you know sir. It allows the CCP to actually increase their emissions until 2030, while the United States and other economic powers are forced to cut them. This should be an agreement that applies equally to all and not favoring China.

They should not have most favored nation status. And shockingly, because China classifies himself – this is one that really gets me, Secretary. They classify themselves as a developing nation, right. They’re the second greatest economic empire in the world. Yet, by the United Nations standards, they’re a developing nation. So what does that mean?

That means they’re given deferential treatment in other international climate treaties. China is a second largest economy in the world, they’re not a developing nation. And that also entitles them to World Bank loans at low interest or zero interest, that they use then to fund their Belt and Road Initiative, where they get countries into debt-trap, rape the rare earth minerals, bring in their own workers.

And then when they go into bankruptcy guess who bails them out? The IMF at the American taxpayers’ expense. I don’t know how you can negotiate with the CCP when they’re knowingly abusing these global systems to avoid purposively their emissions.

And why does the administration continue to funnel so much taxpayer money to our greatest adversary with things like the UN Green Climate Fund, when it’s clear they have no interest in reducing their emissions?

Moreover, China controls 80 to 85% of the rare earth minerals needed to produce batteries, solar panels, and semiconductors. As you testified before this committee previously, the Uyghur Muslims and ethnic minorities are forced to produce components for solar panels in the Xinjiang region of China.

The Biden administration rightfully so has classified their actions against the Uyghurs as genocide. And sir, when I asked you the question, the last time you appeared before this committee, and I’ll wait till you’re done with your little sidebar conversation, because it’s important for you to hear this.

The last time you were here, I asked you about the impact this genocide would have on your climate change agenda. And you replied, “well, life is full of choices.” Well, when it comes to ending genocide, there are no tough choices. And the fact that you think that it’s just a tough choice, and we’re just going to have to let them do what they do, is incredibly concerning.

The United States should always choose human rights, human dignity, and human life. I’m deeply concerned the administration continues to engage with the CCP with no real results or anything to show for it.

I agree, you have to talk to them. I talked to Secretary Blinken. I encouraged him to engage in diplomacy with China. We have to talk to them. But we don’t have to make concessions before you can get to the table. Do you know that we stopped enforcing our sanctions against human rights violations? Just to get a meeting with Chairman Xi?

Do you know that we stopped enforcing our export controls going to Huawei from this country, just to get a meeting with Chairman Xi? That is not a way to negotiate.

And I want to raise one last thing. There’s a man named Mark Swidan – he is a Texan. He’s been held captive by the CCP, for over a decade. He’s innocent. He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s been charged with fabricated charges, drug possession. And now he’s scheduled to be executed by the Chinese Communist Party for doing nothing wrong.

He will be executed if we do nothing to stop this. I would implore you sir, as you talk about climate, that you also bring up human rights violations. And the fact that an American citizen is sitting in a Chinese prison marked for death by the CCP, who will be executed soon if you, sir, and your administration [do] nothing to help him. It’s a dire situation.

His family, his mother, Catherine, I’ve talked to them. They simply want their son back home and I pray that you can help return this man to the United States. And with that, I yield back.