If elected president, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he has a plan to combat the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to the U.S. and American democracy, a threat that he says represents no less than a “global dystopia.”

“The threat posed by the CCP requires our primary focus and attention right now,” DeSantis said during a speech at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Friday morning, adding that China is America’s “first truly peer competitor that we have dealt with in our lifetimes.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of Heritage.)  

“A world that’s dominated by CCP will see them export their authoritarian vision all across the world,” he warned. “This will be a world marked by internet policing, artificial intelligence, facial recognition, and social credit scores. It will end up creating a global dystopia.”

DeSantis said his plan to combat the threat from China is multifaceted, but put simply, it boils down to, “We win and they lose.”  

First, the governor pledged that as president he would “modernize and bolster our military capability to deter CCP aggression” because “peace can only be achieved through strength.”  

To this end, the Florida governor said he would strengthen America’s Navy with “355 ships by the end of the first term, 385 by the end of the second term, and a pathway for 600 ships within the next 20 years.” 

Second, DeSantis said the U.S. must “unleash America’s full economic potential and prevent the CCP from surpassing us as an economic power.”  

“Third thing we have to do,” the governor continued, “is ensure robust technological dominance in fields like robotics, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, biotech and blockchain.”  

To maintain America’s presence on the world stage and combat China’s growing power, DeSantis said America must also “defend the homeland against CCP influence.” According to the governor, this includes securing America’s borders, preventing the CCP from purchasing American land, revamping “domestic intel and law enforcement agencies,” and removing CCP influence from America’s colleges and universities.  

Finally, he said America must combat China by standing “for individual liberty and human dignity. We need to expose CCP oppression. We need to give hope to those chafing under authoritarian rule.”  

DeSantis criticized not only of President Joe Biden’s handling of China, but also American foreign policy at large.  

“The Biden foreign policy is rudderless, weak, misguided, and solicitous of America’s adversary,” he said, pointing to the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, sanctions relief on Iran, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hamas’ attack on Israel, and the situation along America’s border with Mexico.  

“We have a major national security issue in our own country at our own southern border,” DeSantis said. “We’ve had 7 to 8 million people pour into this country illegally since Joe Biden took office,” he added, noting that individuals are illegally crossing the border from the Middle East, Russia, and China.  

Customs and Border Protection encountered over 3.2 million illegal aliens on Americas border and at ports of entry in fiscal year 2023 alone. Among these, 57,163 came from Russia and 52,700 from China.  

Securing America’s southern border is “not just the right thing for the United States in terms of the rule of law and our economy, it is a national security issue and it’s one that we need to tackle,” DeSantis said. 

While speaking of the current conflict in the Middle East, DeSantis blamed Iran for funding and orchestrating Hamas’s recent attack on Israel.  

The Florida governor said he has expanded ties with Israel while leading the Sunshine State and he pledged to continue to support Israel if elected president. 

On Thursday, the governor’s office said that it is sending weapons, drones, body armor, and other items to Israel to assist the nation in its war against Hamas.  

“At the request of the Israeli Consul General in Miami, cargo planes contracted by Florida were used to transport healthcare and hospital supplies, drones, body armor, and helmets that first responders can use,” Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for DeSantis’s office, said in a statement reported by CNN. 

The Israeli government acquired the equipment, according to CNN, and asked Florida for help transporting the items to Israel on two cargo planes that also carried donated medical supplies, clothing, and other essentials.  

Israel needs to “end Hamas once and for all,” DeSantis said during his Friday speech, adding that “we should be supportive of that, not just publicly, but also in private, not just in words, but also in our deeds.”

DeSantis’ speech at Heritage is part of the ongoing Mandate for Leadership Series presented by The Heritage Foundation and The Epoch Times. Named after Heritage’s signature publication, “Mandate for Leadership,” first released in 1981 and updated over the years, the series features public policy discussions on some of the most critical issues America faces today.  

Heritage released the latest “Mandate for Leadership” book in April. It includes contributions from more than 35 primary authors and hundreds of contributors, each focused on providing research and recommendations to every department of government, from Homeland Security to Education to Agriculture.  

The book is intended to serve as a roadmap of policy solutions prepared by conservatives for the next administration. The Mandate for Leadership Series features discussions focused on the policy issues in the book and has included remarks from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.  

The Mandate for Leadership Series highlights that “America is at a crossroads,” Kevin Roberts, The Heritage Foundation president, said. “Every election is vital, but this election of 2024 really will dictate whether the republic continues its lurch toward decline,” or whether America will be brought to “a new series of victories, both domestically and in terms of national security.” 

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