Editor's note: Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida who has never been to China even once, is one of the loudest critics of China in American politics. Recently, led by him, five politicians asked U.S. President Joe Biden to ban travel between China and the U.S., citing the respiratory infectious diseases in China as the reason. What makes him harbor so much animosity towards China? This episode of Reality Check takes a deep dive into his background and his political ambition, and shows you the answer.
Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American from Florida who has never ever been to China once, is one of the loudest China-critics in American politics. Many are puzzled by his aggression. But if you want to understand where it comes from, just rewind the video and look at his background: Florida, Cuban-American, politician.
Here's an analysis used by The Guardian. Florida's Cuban Americans remain loyal to the Republican politicians because the Cold-War-era narratives on opposing Fidel Castro "continue to resonate here, even as they have faded in the rest of America." "It's why presidential candidates' campaign stops in Florida have historically involved speeches on foreign policy, which is important to the many who either fled Castro's regime themselves or have relatives who did," the report continued.
Now, for Rubio, trashing Cuba got him the title Senator from Florida. But this is not his end-game. He eyes the presidency. And clearly, the Cuba issue isn't big enough to prove his foreign policy bona fide to the nationwide audience. So he goes after the next best thing, something his Cuban background can relate to, politically, can be turned into a Cold-War-like issue and gives him legitimacy.
And that is China. So, you see, his animosity is a manufactured hostility to serve a purpose. Which explains why he has weird takes on China.
In 2020, he urged the president to treat QQ, a once popular chatting app that's still widely used in China and also has international users, as a threat.
In 2021, he said China has "weaponized" U.S.'s "corporate lust for profits" as if it is China who drums up their lust and those profits go into China's pockets instead of benefiting Americans themselves.
In 2022, he called to ban TikTok in the U.S. – not just from government devices, but to cease operation in the country – because he believes it can be used to spy on American teenagers.
He called electric vehicles "Trojan Horse for China."
Marco Rubio has no interests in finding out the truth. His interest is to make China as much an enemy of the United States as possible, so he himself can be the frontline soldier "defending" America.
It's sleazy and opportunistic. It doesn't matter whether he visits China or not. He won't care as long as he can remain the loudest voice trashing it. Even trashing China is not his real goal. It's more of a tool for him. He uses it just to get more spotlight and influence to galvanize more votes for himself, not paying attention to the American interests harmed along the way.
Maybe it works for him. But it's doesn't work for America.
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