Cassidy, Kennedy among 6 U.S. senators in delegation to China, Japan and South Korea
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Idaho Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo will lead a bipartisan delegation to China, Japan and South Korea next week, Schumer’s office said Tuesday.
The other senators on the trip are Louisiana Republicans Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy and Democrats Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Jon Ossoff of Georgia.
The trip, scheduled for a week when the Senate will not be in session, comes amid escalating tensions with China, including the country’s internet regulator banning Boise-based Micron Technology, the largest U.S. memory chip maker.
The Chinese government cited national security concerns, but the move was also seen by some as retaliation for the U.S. government banning equipment from Chinese producers Huawei and ZTE in November.
In addition to its Idaho headquarters, Micron announced last year the semiconductor maker would spend up to $100 billion to build a factory in New York state, which Schumer represents.
Micron also has a plant in Japan, which pledged nearly $1.3 billion Tuesday to support that site.
South Korea has a substantial microchip sector, which could benefit from China’s ban on Micron, though the U.S. ally has so far declined to capitalize on the situation.
The senators would focus on maintaining U.S. leadership in advanced technologies, Schumer’s office said.
Cassidy told reporters on a telephone news conference Tuesday that the trip was intended to reduce tensions with China, address the issue of fentanyl from China entering the U.S. and promoting trade with the country. China could be a market for liquified natural gas, which is exported from the U.S. primarily from facilities on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, he said.
Meeting with Chinese leaders could reduce the prospects of an eventual war with China, he said.
“It’s no mystery right now that there’s tension right now between the Chinese Communist Party and the United States of America,” Cassidy said. “Hopefully, by exchanging views, we can reduce that tension. We do not want war between our two countries. I don’t want American troops deployed.”
Promoting liquified natural gas could help boost Louisiana’s economy and reduce emissions from Chinese coal plants, he added.
“They could buy U.S. natural gas shipped out of Louisiana,” he said. “That would clean up their air. It would also create more jobs in Louisiana.”
The trip will feature meetings with government and business leaders in each country and would focus on “economic and national security interests in the region,” a spokesperson for Cassidy said Tuesday. The senators also plan to meet with U.S. companies with outposts in each country.
Cassidy introduced a bill last week aimed at protecting his state’s shrimping industry that would create a U.S. Trade Office task force to monitor upcoming Chinese industrial subsidies.
In a written statement a spokesperson for Ossoff said the senator was focused on national security and economic issues.
“From his post on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ossoff is relentlessly focused on U.S. national security, and he continues to champion Georgia as a destination for global investment,” the spokesperson wrote. “Later this week, Sen. Ossoff will travel to Asia for high-level engagements to advance U.S. national security interests and Georgia’s economic interests in the region.”
– Jennifer Shutt contributed to this report.