Cory Booker criticises US ‘drumbeat to war’ with China after general’s comments

US Congress has pushed for a tougher stance against China

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 05 February 2023 22:05 GMT
China threatens response after US shoots down 'spy' balloon

Senator Cory Booker is asking his colleagues to cool off the rhetoric aimed at China after the US shot down a spy balloon over the weekend and a four-star US general predicted that war with the rival superpower was inevitable.

The New Jersey Democrat spoke Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. During the interview, he knocked what he said was a growing “drumbeat” or “rush” to conflict with the People’s Republic of China that was unhealthy and ran the risk of souring peaceful alternatives.

His remarks came in response to a question from Mr Todd asking him to declare whether he was prepared to support “whatever it takes to prepare for war with China over Taiwan”.

The US and many other countries consider Taiwan to be an independent country, as, crucially, does Taiwan’s government. China, on the other hand, views Taiwan as part of its territory and regularly threatens other countries for maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s government.

“I'm... a believer that strong diplomacy can work to counter Chinese aggression,” Mr Booker said on Sunday, adding: “[T]his rush, or a drumbeat, to war is really problematic to me when there are a whole bunch of other options.”

Mr Booker went on to praise Joe Biden and his administration for pursuing those other options, telling Mr Todd that Mr Biden “has been reaching out across the aisle and finding good ways to counter and check China's aggressions, China's espionage, but also to look at ways to strengthen ties with China that enable us to better keep them at the table”.

It was a series of comments that served as a counterbalance to shocking statements from hawkish conservatives including a top Air Force general as well as the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul.

A memo first reported two weeks ago by NBC News written by four-star Gen Mike Minihan of Air Mobility Command warned that the US would be at war with the PRC by 2025, a prediction that was echoed by Mr McCaul on Fox News hours later.

"I hope he's wrong," the congressman said of Gen Minihan’s prediction. "I think he's right though, unfortunately."

Those statements rippled through the media and sparked a wave of condemnations in Chinese media, and would serve as a backdrop to news that broke this weekend of a Chinese surveillance balloon being spotted at a low altitude over the continental US. The surveillance craft, which officials in Beijing confirmed was of Chinese origin, would be shot down by US forces on Saturday.

That incident would spark another round of condemnations from Beijing and appears to have also resulted in US Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponing a diplomatic trip to the country, a sign of the continued souring of US-China relations.

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