Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed doubt that China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s superpower, praising innovative U.S.-based companies such as Snapchat.
McCain was asked for his response to experts predicting that China’s economy will soon surpass the size of the U.S. economy.
“Look at the demographics. The one-child policy has now got you a very, very large segment of the population aging. Second, if you ever go to Beijing, be sure to wear a mask for God’s sake. I mean, they’ve got huge environmental problems,” McCain said at the Hudson Institute.
“Third of all, they are having internal contradictions right now. We see one person after another that is being tried for corruption – people very close and high in the leadership – there’s a certain amount of turmoil there.”
McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he remains “totally optimistic” about the future of the U.S.
“We are now energy independent. You and I having this conversation 10 years ago, we would not have believed it,” he said. “That has a huge effect if we do the right things like export oil if we want to, build the pipelines, etc. That has eliminated our reliance on Middle Eastern oil. No longer will we have a scenario like we saw in the ’70s when gas lines were blocks long.”
McCain also said smartphones, which have changed the world, were not invented in China.
“My friends, they may be made in China but they were all thought of here and there’s no country in the world that has this kind of innovation and this kind of ingenuity that these young people have,” he said.
McCain told the audience he visited Snapchat a few months ago and was met at the door by a 25-year-old in jeans and a T-shirt.
“He’s the CEO. He just turned down, I think, $2 billion for Snapchat. My friends, this is phenomenal what’s going on. It’s unbelievable and they rip you off all the time. Every time there’s a new one of these my wife makes me buy another goddamn one of them and they get heavier and heavier,” he said, holding up his smartphone.
McCain explained that China is not able to control people the way they have in the past.
“There are too many ways of people transmitting information. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power so I am overall in the long term very optimism about the future,” he said.
Jill Hazelbaker, the former communications director for McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, is now the vice president of communications and public policy at Snapchat.
In the discussion, McCain argued that the increased use of drones is a “good thing,” saying the F-35 is likely to be the last fighter aircraft.
“If you can fly an airplane and control it from Langley [Air Force Base] and have it sit there for 12 hours with no pilot and it can discharge weapons, I think that’s the way we’re going to go,” he said.
McCain recently referred to the attendees of a large rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Arizona as “crazies.” Trump was asked about McCain.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said.
Without naming Trump, McCain said at the Hudson Institute he does not want to “reopen the wounds” of the Vietnam War.
“I want us to celebrate our veterans, to move forward and those who may have opposed the war – whatever it is – it’s over and our Vietnam veterans deserve not to have this fight begin again because they are bravest and most wonderful people. Because they were, generally speaking, the 18- or 19-year-old that got the notice and fought,” he said.