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Rubio says as president he'd be a lot tougher on China

Ahead of a speech tomorrow on China, Marco Rubio lays out what his posture would be like as president, calling for a firmer hand with the growing world power.

"The U.S. must continue to pursue cooperation with China when possible, but we can no longer succumb to the illusion that more rounds of cordial dialogue with its rulers will effect a change of heart," he writes in the Wall Street Journal. "That is why President Xi Jinping's visit to Washington next week should not be canceled, but rather downgraded to a working visit from a state visit. This is an opportunity to speak bluntly to this authoritarian ruler and achieve meaningful progress, not to treat him to a state dinner. If elected U.S. president next fall, I will approach China on the basis of strength and example, not weakness and appeasement.

"My first goal will be to restore America's strategic advantage in the Pacific. China has increased its defense spending by 10% this year, continuing a 20-year trend. We cannot continue to allow our military readiness to atrophy while China's strengthens. My presidency will begin with an end to defense sequestration and a restoration of the Pentagon's budget to its appropriate level. This will allow us to neutralize China's rapidly growing capabilities in every strategic realm, including air, sea, ground, cyber space and even outer space."

"My second goal is protecting the U.S. economy. For years, China has subsidized exports, devalued its currency, restricted imports and stolen technology on a massive scale. As president, I would respond not through aggressive retaliation, which would hurt the U.S. as much as China, but by greater commitment and firmer insistence on free markets and free trade. This means immediately moving forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements.

"I will also recognize that in the 21st century, national and economic security both depend on cybersecurity. No longer will China hack U.S. corporate or government servers with ease and without consequence."

Full op/ed here.

Rubio is to give his speech at 11:30 a.m. at the Charleston Metro Chamber's World Trade Center.