Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and 2024 Republican presidential contender, said Sunday that she views China “as an enemy” in a potential preview of the hardline approach she would take if elected president.
“China’s been practically preparing for war with us for years,” Haley told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday. “Yes, I view China as an enemy.”
America, the former United Nations ambassador said, needs to “make sure that we’re serious about China and they know that we’re serious about them – not going and being nice to them and thinking that they’re going to change.”
Her comments come while President Joe Biden is in Vietnam trying to secure stronger diplomatic, military and economic ties with a network of allies and partners in response to China’s increasingly aggressive military and economic posture.
On a separate track, the Biden administration has also pursued more stable ties and improved communication with Beijing over the last year, with a series of top Cabinet secretaries making the trip to China’s capital in just the last few months.
“How much more has to happen for Biden to realize you don’t send Cabinet members over to China to appease them; you start getting serious with China and say: ‘We’re not going to put up with it,’” Haley said Sunday.
“They keep sending different Cabinet officials over, Jake, and it’s embarrassing,” she added.
Discussing the US’ relationship with China in an interview with CBS’ Margaret Brennan that aired Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Yes, there’s tension when you are in a competition of any sort. But that does not mean that we are seeking conflict.”
“And I think it’s important to not conflate the two,” Harris added.
Detailing what her own approach would look like, Haley stressed the importance of cutting off China’s access to US oil, combating “Chinese infiltration” in American universities, and ending all normal trade relations until the flow of fentanyl to the US is stopped.
“And then we’re going to build up our military, because China now has the strongest naval fleet in the world,” Haley said.
This story has been updated with additional information.