DeSantis paints China as global menace — and he doesn’t like their toys, either

By: - January 10, 2023 2:58 pm

“Hostile nation” — General Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping waves as he leaves after speaking at a press event with Members of the new Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and Chinese and Foreign journalists at The Great Hall of People on October 23, 2022, in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Ron DeSantis has a bone to pick with Chinese toys. He aired his grievances with them while in Southwest Florida’s Bonita Springs on Tuesday.

The governor described a toy-buying trip he and First Lady Casey DeSantis took to reward their three young children for behaving themselves during his second inaugural ceremony precisely one week earlier.

“They get all these toys — and this wasn’t true, I don’t think when I was a kid — all this stuff is made in China and a lot of it breaks. It’s cheap stuff. And I’m just thinking to myself, like, OK you can get it from China because it’s cheaper to pay, but if it doesn’t even last a week then what difference does it make?

“So, a lot of these things we got — we’ve need to figure out Santa Claus may need to not do Chinese toys,” he continued, to laughter from his audience.

“Make it here. Make it, honestly, anywhere. But not China.”

DeSantis delivered those remarks during a news conference during which he announced an executive order laying out a continued strategy to protect the Everglades and Florida’s water resources and plans to seek $3.5 billion from the Legislature to that end.

But that only laid the groundwork for a broader attack by DeSantis on global “elites” and what he described as Chinese infiltration of the American economy and society. It was a signal, perhaps, of what a DeSantis foreign policy might look like should he formally announce a presidential bid.

The governor has already called upon the Legislature to block land purchases in the state by entities controlled by the Chinese government, plus curbs on its investments in technology and state universities.

“We don’t want to have holdings by hostile nations,” DeSantis said Tuesday.

‘Gobbling up land’

“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things. And, you know, when they have interests that are opposed to ours, and you’ve seen how they’ve wielded their authority — especially with President Xi [Jinping], who’s taken a much more Marxist-Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China — that is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases,” he said.

That goes for other real-estate deals, too, DeSantis continued.

“Why would you want them buying residential developments and things like that? I don’t want them owning subdivisions and things like that,” he said.

“But yes, we do not need to have CCP influence in Florida’s economy.

Measures DeSantis pushed during the 2021 legislative session increased penalties for corporate and university espionage and require reporting by institutes of higher education of overseas gifts of $50,000 or more.

“As if our universities don’t have enough problems already,” he said Tuesday.

“I think we’re going to go even further than that; the Legislature only went so far a couple of years ago, I think there’s an appetite to do even more, because their influence in our society has been very insidious.”

He cited the initial onslaught of COVID-19, when China provided most of the personal protective equipment the United States needed.

“Why would you want a hostile nation for things that are integral for our quality of life and security? Of course, you wouldn’t want to do that. But this has been going on for many, many decades, so disentangling from China, I think, is something that is very, very significant going forward.

Davos crowd

He took a swipe at the World Economic Forum, an organization backed by large global corporations that’s scheduled its annual conference next week in Davos, Switzerland.

“Their vision is they run everything and everybody else is just like a serf, like a peasant. They say they’re going after energy, ESG, all these other things. You see the Biden administration wants to nix gas stoves. Are you kidding me? Like, we need — I want gas stoves. How many people had the hurricane come through, didn’t have power right away but were able to turn on some — ” he trailed off.

“ESG refers to “environmental, social, and governmental” criteria that investment funds use to help calculate whether a company is worth investing in. DeSantis has led a move to divest state pension funds in banks that apply those yardsticks.

“You cannot go down this road but that’s exactly what they want to do. And it’s really weakening Western society, Western values. But underlying a lot of that is the CCP. Those people are there, they’re elites, but, you know, Xi is really kind of the puppet behind the curtain on a lot of this stuff.”

As for gas stoves, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has begun looking into whether to ban them because they emit gases including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide and have been linked to childhood asthma, as CBS News among others has reported.

Also, in a news conference in late November, DeSantis made comments about China’s lockdowns, quarantines and other Zero-COVID policies that aim to eradicate the virus. (The country has since loosened restrictions.)

“This Zero-COVID policy is draconian. It violates people’s liberties and it is completely unscientific. And the people of China are right to be able to speak out and protest against what the Chinese Communist Party is doing,” DeSantis said.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.

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