What’s the relationship between China and Utah? Rep. Stewart shares insight

Apr 10, 2023, 8:30 PM

Rep. Chris stewart is pictured...

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah speaks at an election night event for Republican candidates in at the Utah Association of Realtors building in Sandy on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. He joined Dave & Dujanovic on Monday to dicuss the relationship between Utah and China. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A recent article by the Associated Press describes China as attempting to manipulate and influence the state of Utah.

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Dave & Dujanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic on Monday to discuss why China has such interest in Utah. 

“China is pervasive,” Stewart said. “They’re everywhere. They’re everywhere in the world. There’s not a nation in the world that they aren’t exerting influence. And the same thing is true here in the United States.”

Utah isn’t the only state China is attempting to influence

Stewart says the Beehive State isn’t the only state in the country that China is trying to influence. However, he says China views Utah as interesting for a couple of reasons.

“Number one is there are a lot of valuable assets that are really, really again interesting,” Stewart said.

Stewart mentions Hill Air Force Base, the Silicon Slopes, the University of Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The second item of interest to China that relates to Utah, according to Stewart, it is a welcoming state.

“We are an embracing people,” Stewart said. “We’re in an embracing culture.”

Stewart says many people in the state have lived overseas and have made friendships and acquaintances.

“And so that has made us, I think probably a little naive or at least not as careful as we should be when it comes to dealing with China,” he said. 

Keeping a good relationship with China

Stewart was asked how does Utah maintain a positive relationship with China?

“Let’s not allow China to come here and take advantage of us,” he said. “Or to use our community as a portal to gain access to things that they shouldn’t have access to, or that they’re going to use not only to their benefit, but they’re going to use it to our detriment if we’re not careful in protecting ourselves.”

Stewart was asked if local leaders are easily more manipulated than leaders in Washington, D.C.?

“Yeah. I think they are,” Stewart said. “And that’s not a criticism of them. It’s just that the environment they work in is quite a bit different.”

Stewart says the leaders in Washington are regularly briefed on these potential targets. Additionally, he says when a member of Congress is contacted by someone with ties to China, they know they are being viewed as a target and not a friend. 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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What’s the relationship between China and Utah? Rep. Stewart shares insight