Steyer says US needs to work with China as a ‘frenemy’

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Businessman and billionaire Tom Steyer said the U.S. would have to work with China despite concerns over its human rights record. 

“We actually can’t isolate ourselves from China. In fact, we have to work with them as a frenemy, people who disturb us, who we disagree with, but who in effect we are linked to in a world that is ever getting closer,” Steyer said at the 2020 Democratic primary debate Thursday in Los Angeles. 

Increased scrutiny has been paid to concerns over China’s record on human rights as it oversees a brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the mass detention of minority Uighur Muslims. 

“The way the United States should be reacting in Hong Kong is by gathering our coalition of democracy and freedom-loving partners and allies to push back,” Steyer said.

“In fact, when we’re making moral statements around the world, it should not be us threatening and trying to be the world’s policeman, it should be us leading on a value-driven basis with the other people who share our values and want to change the world.”

Despite saying he’s concerned over China’s alleged human rights abuses, Steyer said Washington and Beijing would have to find ways to cooperate, specifically citing work the U.S. and China would have to do to tackle climate change.

“We need a good relationship with them,” he said, “and we’re going to have to work with them under all circumstances.” 

Tags Democratic debate Tom Steyer

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