Rep. Frank: U.S. Needs to be ‘Much Tougher’ with ‘Brutal, Repressive’ China

Pete Winn | February 17, 2012 | 2:27pm EST
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FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011 file photo, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. gestures during his news conference on his retirement on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

( - Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) says China has a “brutal, repressive government” and the U.S. “needs to be much tougher” with the Communist nation -- both economically and in terms of human rights.

Frank said predictions that a more open economy and the arrival of the Internet would mean increased democracy in China have not materialized.

“Sadly, what the Chinese are showing is that a brutal repressive government can unfortunately contain that,” he said Thursday during an interview on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal.

“I am sorry that the Chinese continue to be so disrespectful of the fundamental human rights,” he said, adding: “And there’s a kind of a racist note there, in which they say, ‘Well, you know, free speech and the right to vote for people – those are kind of Western values.’ Those are human values.”

The ultraliberal Massachusetts Democrat, who was asked what he though about the official U.S. visit this week of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, criticized U.S. policy toward China and said that he is “very much in favor” of the U.S. “getting tough with China” on both human rights and economically.

“I think China needs us more than we need them,” he said. “We are too often acting as if these major foreign countries are doing us a favor by letting us buy all their goods or in some other cases -- not China -- defend them militarily. China needs us much more than we need them.”

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Just this week, Frank said he toured two companies in his congressional district which both volunteered that one of their major problems was “unfair subsidized competition form China.”

“I think we need to be much . . . tougher and assertive about the Chinese saying, ‘You’ve got to stop the subsidy, stealing other people’s intellectual property.”

The U.S. has been “trying to buy political support from China by sacrificing our aggressive economic activity for no gain,” Frank said.

“They are no longer this poor waif that needs all this support,” he said. “So I don’t think we’ve been tough enough with China, I think we’ve sacrificed some legitimate economic issues for some theoretical geopolitical things – which doesn’t work anyway.”

Frank pointed out that despite U.S. efforts, China is refusing to help the U.S. curtail North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons – and is thwarting President Obama’s goal of impacting change in Syria.

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