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Rep. Young Kim

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-40), Chairwoman of the Indo-Pacific Subcommittee, pressed Assistant Secretary Daniel Kritenbrink at today’s subcommittee hearing about the Biden administration’s response to the Chinese surveillance balloon, the State Department’s meetings in Beijing, and other countermeasures to the People’s Republic of China’s provocations.

Last month, Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink abruptly cancelled a scheduled appearance at an Indo-Pacific Subcommittee hearing scheduled for June 12, 2023 and his office rejected the Subcommittee’s request to hear from his Deputy. He was scheduled to join Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Beijing two days later on June 14, 2023.

Watch her full questioning HERE and read the transcript below.

Chairwoman Kim: Secretary Kritenbrink, you accompanied Secretary Blinken on his recent trip to Beijing just recently in June, and shortly after that meeting Secretary Blinken said that the spy balloon chapter should be closed. Well, this was a spy balloon, which is a product of an adversary’s military that flew across the continental United States, and the administration believes we should simply move on. And at one point, President Biden even characterized this national security threat as “silly.” Do you agree or disagree with President Biden’s characterization that this spy balloon incident as silly?I just need a simple yes or no from you.

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Madam Chairwoman, thank you. I think. Simple, yes or no? I mean, we can continue the dialogue. Well, ma’am, what I would say is I agree with the president’s assessment from the beginning.We took this extremely seriously. This was an outrageous violation of American sovereignty.

Chairwoman Kim: Yet he called it silly, right? I’m going to claim my time back. State Department, did you demarch the Chinese embassy with respect to the balloon?

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Yes, we did. I don’t have all of the details in front of me.

Chairwoman Kim: And what date did that occur?

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: I didn’t come with a timeline, ma’am, but my recollection is it was it was immediately after we found it. Do you recall when I believe it was February or in the meeting? I do. Could you tell me? I will tell you. We don’t normally divulge all of the details of our work, but I can tell you the Secretary of State and the Deputy Secretary of State. We took this incredibly seriously and we wanted to send a message that this was an outrageous violation of our sovereignty. We demanded it be removed, that it never happened again. And then we shot it down. So, respectfully, Madam Chairman, this is very serious.

Chairwoman Kim: Will you commit to sharing any technical analysis of the balloon with the committee?

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: What I will commit to is I’ll refer you to the Department of Justice and the FBI, which are in charge of this. And we support whatever decisions they make.

Chairwoman Kim: All right, so you see, we’re having this continued dialogue, so the chapter on the spy balloon is not closed. The American people still have so many unanswered questions about this flagrant violation of the American airspace, and given that it flew across the entirety of the continental United States, we’re questioning this administration’s ability to respond to provocations from the PRC in the future. Since the spy balloon incident in February, the PRC has raided American companies. Namely, it banned Micron from its market and it threatened restrictions on critical minerals, and cyber hacked our top officials, as was mentioned in Chairman McCaul’s statement. Since February, can you name one substantial action the PRC has taken to improve relations with the United States,other than taking our meetings on their terms?

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Well, Madam Chairwoman, a couple of things. First, I would completely disagree with the characterization that they took, that we took meetings on their terms. In fact, just the opposite is true. The meetings happened on our terms in our timeline that we insisted on, and then we stuck to it.Madam Chairwoman, I fully agree with your assessment that some of the steps that China has taken against Micron, against other American firms on the ground absolutely contradict their supposed statement that China is open for business and that they need foreign investment, whereas when they take these steps that obviously contradict that statement and that undermine the business environment, that is not in their interests and it certainly increases tension in the relationship.And these are issues that Secretary Blinken raised directly when he was in China and also their steps to both threaten and actually restrict critical thinking.

Chairwoman Kim: I don’t completely agree with your assessment that the meetings were taken on your terms or on our terms, because it’s my understanding that we insisted our travel to Beijing despite I mean, even canceling your appearance before my subcommittee hearing. So anyway, in your meetings with PRC officials, was the PRC actions against my Micron subject? And if so, what message was communicated by your delegation and were there any countermeasures threatened?

Assistant Secretary Kritenbrink: Madam Chairman, we’ve absolutely raised the Micron case and the other cases that I referred to, the unacceptable steps that China has taken against our firms. While in Beijing,Secretary Blinken also underscored how unacceptable it is that China is taking these steps against our firms. And again, it undermines, absolutely contradicts, their claim that they are open for business and we’ll continue to fight and advocate for our businesses. The Secretary also met with the American business community there, and what he heard from them was that one, yes, this trading relationship and the presence of our businesses in China remain very important.But number two, they have a range of concerns, including these actions, and we’re committed to defending them and advocating for them.

Chairwoman Kim: My time is up, but I look forward to continuing this dialogue, especially as we are we have an upcoming meeting coming up. Thank you.

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