The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition held a virtual town hall with Sen. Mitt Romney regarding the foreign relations between China and the U.S. on March 30. The town hall dove into how these topics impact the state of Utah, trade relations and education. Thousands of viewers showed up for the event to hear Romney’s views on China and the United States’ relationships both on the larger, geopolitical scale and locally.
Many of these attendees were non-governmental organizations and business and opinion leaders in Utah.
Romney suggested that the U.S. needs to develop an umbrella tactic for elements on geo-political strategy and hammered home the point that it’s important to maintain respect for Asian-Americans.
“We welcome legal immigrants,” Romney said. “If you look at businesses, Asian-Americans have created more than their fair share, which help employ Americans and raise wages here. I welcome legal immigration among Asian-Americans — a people who are devoted to family, hard work, education and STEM subjects. These are people who have helped our economy.”
He also said the U.S. has to be assertive in approaching the geo-political world, and that China relies on the rest of the world for their energy needs. Romney wants to increase our trade relations and to sell U.S. goods and services to China.
Kent Davis, deputy district attorney in Salt Lake County and former veteran, was one of the attendees who asked questions during the hour-long town hall.
Davis said, “How can our military, alongside our diplomatic and development agencies, continue to mitigate these conflicts with China in order to counter Chinese aggression?”
Romney also said he is concerned about the Confucius Institutes, or public educational partnerships between universities in China and in other countries, which has been reported to have been designated by the U.S.’s intelligence community as a way for China to spy on its American-located students.
“I am happy to sell them things, and with regards to military, we don’t insist that people go through the Panama Canal — which is in our region — and make sure they pay us a toll for doing so,” Romney said.
Shadman Bashir, director of International Student Affairs at Dixie State, asked a question about about cultural exchanges with countries after COVID-19.
“Utah is, or was No. 1 in students coming from China,” Bashir said. “Utah has more than 8,000 students from China.”
Romney stated again the importance of the need to welcome Asians as legal immigrants.
“To the topic of students, these so-called ‘Confucius Institutes’ establish spies to spy on Chinese students and to see if the students here are saying or doing anything that might suggest that they are becoming enamored with America,” Romney said.
Romney continued on and said he is “skeptical” with letting in Chinese or Asian students who he felt were here to steal American technologies and take them back to their countries.