FIRST ON FOX: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee later this month, Fox News Digital has learned.
A source familiar told Fox News Digital the hearing is set to take place Thursday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. The hearing is an annual budget hearing focused on the Biden administration’s proposed State Department budget.
Blinken last testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in April 2022.
“I look forward to getting Secretary Blinken before our committee and on the record about this administration’s detailed strategy to confront the generational threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Committee Chairman Michael McCaul told Fox News Digital. “And he should be prepared for extensive questions about the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan – and why the State Department has stonewalled our efforts to get information from them to date.”
The hearing will give lawmakers the opportunity to question Blinken just weeks after a Chinese spy craft transited the continental United States for nearly a week before being shot down off the coast of South Carolina. The Biden administration was criticized for not taking action sooner to down the Chinese spy balloon, but administration officials said the only window of opportunity came when it was above a body of water.
Blinken canceled his visit to China after the balloon was discovered.
The hearing will also give lawmakers the chance to press Blinken on the administration’s response on China’s ambitions for “reunification” with Taiwan, as national security officials warn Beijing could invade the small island nation, which they claim is their sovereign territory.
Lawmakers are also expected to question Blinken on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Biden administration’s continued aid to Kyiv and on response in the aftermath of the Biden administration’s withdrawal of military assets from Afghanistan after a 20-year presence in the region.
As for China, the U.S. intelligence community this week released its annual assessment which states that the Chinese Communist Party will continue its efforts to make China the “preeminent power in East Asia and a major power on the world stage.”
Officials said Chinese President Xi Jinping will work in his third term to press Taiwan on unification and will seek to “undercut U.S. influence” by driving “wedges between Washington and its partners.”
“At the same time, China’s leaders probably will seek opportunities to reduce tensions with Washington when they believe it suits their interests,” the report said.
The intelligence community warned that Beijing is “increasingly” combining its growing military power with its economic, technological, and diplomatic influence to “strengthen CCP rule, secure what it views as its sovereign territory and regional preeminence, and pursue global influence.”
With regard to Taiwan, the intelligence community warned that the PRC is using “coordinated, whole-of-government tools” as it seeks to assert sovereignty over Taiwan. Officials warned that China may build on its actions from 2022, and include more Taiwan Strait centerline crossings or missile overflights of Taiwan.
As for China’s military, the intelligence community said Beijing is “accelerating” the development of key capabilities that it believes the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) needs to “confront the United States in a large-scale, sustained conflict.” The PLA efforts are designed to “deter U.S. intervention in a future cross-Strait crisis,” officials said.
Officials also warned that Beijing is bolstering its domestic defense production capabilities for weapons of mass destruction and advanced conventional weapons, and that that China is building hundreds of new ICBM silos.