Defense & National Security

Defense & National Security — All eyes on Blinken’s upcoming China trip

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during The United States Conference of Mayors, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

Biden administration officials are being urged to press China on issues including aggression in the Indo-Pacific region during upcoming trips to the country.

We’ll share details of the trip and what lawmakers are asking for, plus more on a federal-led search into President Biden’s Rehoboth, Del., home and a new seizure of smuggled weapons in the Gulf of Oman. 

This is Defense & National Security, your guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Ellen Mitchell.

GOP tells Blinken, Yellen to chastise China on trip

More than a dozen Republican senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday to urge them to push China on issues of human rights, trade and its aggression in the Indo-Pacific region during their upcoming trips to the country. 

The 14 senators said in the letter that they should hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for its human rights abuses, “unfair” trade practices and “increasing aggression” in the region and throughout the world.

“Anything less would be a concession to our country’s greatest threat,” they said.

Who signed on: The letter was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Bill Cassidy (La.), Eric Schmitt (Mo.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), Ted Budd (N.C.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Pete Ricketts (Neb.), John Hoeven (N.D.) and Bill Hagerty (Tenn.). 

The ‘worst offender’: The senators said the CCP is the “worst offender” of human rights and noted that both the Trump and Biden administrations concluded that China’s actions against the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in the Xinjiang province, and other ethnic minorities are considered genocide and crimes against humanity. 

The senators also said Blinken and Yellen should confront China on its “long history” of unfair trade practices and industrial espionage, which has hurt the U.S. economy. They referenced claims that the CCP has engaged in a campaign to steal U.S. intellectual property and research and abused privileges in the world trading system to establish itself as a leader in “critical” industries like pharmaceuticals and commodities.

On Taiwan: The GOP senators said China has had “unacceptable and provocative behavior” around the Taiwan Strait and across the Himalayan border with India, where territory is disputed. China has stepped up military exercises in the area around Taiwan in recent months in what has been viewed as threats to the self-governing, democratic island. 

They noted that China has set up “police” offices and intelligence collection outposts in the U.S., Japan and Europe to suppress dissidents and stay on top of people it considers threats.

Read the full story here

FBI searches Biden’s Rehoboth home

Federal investigators on Wednesday searched President Biden’s home in Rehoboth, Del., after classified documents were discovered in recent weeks at Biden’s Wilmington, Del., home and his old Washington, D.C., office.

Multiple outlets reported Wednesday morning that FBI personnel were at Biden’s home in Rehoboth.

‘Full support’Bob Bauer, an attorney for the president, said the search was being conducted with “the President’s full support and cooperation” and was not shared in advance under standard Department of Justice (DOJ) procedures.

“Under DOJ’s standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate,” Bauer said in a statement.

“The search today is a further step in a thorough and timely DOJ process we will continue to fully support and facilitate. We will have further information at the conclusion of today’s search.”

Earlier: No classified materials had previously been discovered at Biden’s Rehoboth residence.

The Justice Department is investigating how classified materials from Biden’s time as vice president ended up at his Wilmington home and an office he used at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington.

Lawyers for the president found documents with classified markings in the old office in November, then discovered classified materials at Biden’s home in mid-December and early January.

Justice Department officials last month searched Biden’s Wilmington home with consent from the president’s team after lawyers found roughly a dozen documents with classified markings in his garage and an adjacent room.

Read that story here

Boat smuggling weapons from Iran to Yemen blocked

The U.S. partner naval forces last month seized more than 3,000 assault rifles and 23 advanced anti-tank guided missiles on the way from Iran to Yemen, the Pentagon revealed Wednesday.

The interaction — which took place on Jan. 15 in the Gulf of Oman along routes historically used to traffic weapons and other illicit cargo to the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen — also recovered 578,000 rounds of ammunition, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

An unnamed partner: Central Command said it supported the maritime interdiction, though it did not name the partner naval forces.

Earlier operations: The weapons seizure is the fifth such operation in a little over two months involving the U.S. Navy, with the most recent being a Jan. 6 interceptionof a fishing boat smuggling more than 2,000 AK-47 assault rifles.

Read the full story here


  • The German Marshall Fund will host a discussion on “The Foreign Policy of Technology,” with U.S. Ambassador for Cyberspace and Digital Policy Nathaniel Fick, at 10:30 a.m.
  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will hold a conversation on “One Year On: Germany’s Foreign Policy Shift and the War in Ukraine,” with German Ambassador to the U.S. Emily Haber and Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, at 1 p.m. 
  • The RAND Corporation will hold an event on “Planning for Climate Resilience in the Department of the Air Force,” at 3 p.m.


That’s it for today! Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!

Tags Antony Blinken Biden Janet Yellen

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