Attorney General William Barr Calls China the World's 'Arsenal of Dictatorship' Over Predatory Economic Policies

U.S. Attorney General William Barr targeted China's economic policies on Thursday, discussing threats to America's authority in the global market during a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Barr leveraged a flood of criticisms against China's efforts to further expand its international economic influence. He described policies used to chart this expansion as "predatory" and "unlawful."

"The [People's Republic of China]'s predatory economic policies are succeeding," Barr said. "For a hundred years, America was the world's largest manufacturer — allowing us to serve as the world's 'arsenal of democracy.' China overtook the United States in manufacturing output in 2010. The PRC is now the world's 'arsenal of dictatorship.'"

Barr outlined a series of economic initiatives launched by the People's Republic of China (PRC) under its Made in China (MIC) 2025 plan, which Chinese Premier Li Keqiang first unveiled in 2015. The strategy aims to prioritize development of Chinese companies across a number of industry sectors, with particular focus on advanced technologies. The Trump administration suggested MIC 2025 would distort global trade practices and "undermine America's high-tech industries and our economic leadership in statements last year.

"The People's Republic of China is now engaged in an economic blitzkrieg—an aggressive, orchestrated, whole-of-government (indeed, whole-of-society) campaign to seize the commanding heights of the global economy and to surpass the United States as the world's preeminent superpower," Barr continued during Thursday's speech.

The attorney general reiterated concerns previously shared by President Donald Trump and various members of his cabinet, which say PRC practices violate international trade and production laws.

"Despite World Trade Organization rules prohibiting quotas for domestic output, Made in China 2025 sets targets for domestic market share (sometimes as high as 70 percent) in core components and basic materials for industries such as robotics and telecommunications," said Barr. "It is clear that the PRC seeks not merely to join the ranks of other advanced industrial economies, but to replace them altogether."

William Barr
U.S. Attorney General William Barr appears at a White House press conference in Washington, D.C., on July 15. Barr targeted China's economic policies in remarks delivered Thursday afternoon in Grand Rapids, Michigan, calling them predatory and unlawful. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Barr also decried China's 5G telecommunications initiative and condemned U.S. companies with ties to its government. He specifically singled out leading technology corporations, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, for their relationships with the Chinese Communist Party, which are mainly related to manufacturing. His speech went on to accuse the PRC of cyber-espionage and hacking U.S. medical centers with intents to steal information related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

"As all of these examples should make clear, the ultimate ambition of China's rulers isn't to trade with the United States. It is to raid the United States," he said.

Newsweek reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., for its response to Barr's statements, but did not hear back in time for publication.