Retired Adm. Michael Mullen cautioned against the “disaster” that could potentially ensue should the U.S. decouple from China, an opinion contesting others branding diplomatic relations with the U.S. adversary as a threat to national interests.
“If we’re completely apart, there’s no way to have discussions as they build up their military and their [nuclear] capability,” Mullen warned FOX News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday.
“The outcome of that, without any way to connect with each other, I think portends a disaster for the world.”
Mullen’s remarks came before President Biden is slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco this month, and follows White House rhetoric that stressed the importance and mutual benefit of “competition” between the U.S. and China.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, during a recent press conference, also characterized the meeting as a space for “intense diplomacy” and “tough conversation.”
“Our policy and how we move forward with China hasn’t changed. This is intense competition — that we have said that we want to move forward with China — and intense competition means intense diplomacy; that’s what you’re going to see. That’s what the president is going to be doing and having a tough conversation, but important conversation,” she said.
Mullen, discussing tensions between the U.S. and China over a potential faceoff over Taiwan in the future, said the two nations should come out of the meeting saying they will not go to war over Taiwan.
“I think that would be a huge first step,” he told Bartiromo.
While discussing the potential risks of cutting off relations with China, Mullen said the focus should pivot to “moving forward” in a “constructive” way.
“If we decouple, we have no way to communicate, and we have every way to miscalculate. It’s specific. We have over 1,300 sanctions on the Chinese. I don’t know how effective they are but, for instance, the fentanyl issue… we’ve got the two companies that actually make the precursors. We’ve got them sanctioned, and the Chinese are saying, ‘We’re not going to let you deal with these companies or deal with this issue until the sanctions are removed. ‘So I think we have to have ways to stay in touch,” he said.
“Obviously, economically, we are hugely integrated with each other. And so decoupling can’t happen overnight. I think it’s the responsibility of leaders who are in charge of this relationship to bring us forward in a way, so we can both live on this earth in a constructive way.”
Gen. Jack Keane, former Army Vice Chief of Staff and a FOX News contributor, echoed the need for diplomatic relations with China during a discussion with “FOX News Sunday’s” Shannon Bream.
“We have to have discussions with our number one adversary,” he said, later arguing the U.S. must control semi-conductor exporting and selectively “decouple” from China while arming Taiwan.
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FOX News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi contributed to this report.