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Sen. Cruz Live From Taiwan on CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’

Discusses Indo-Pacific tour, N.B.A. and trade with Joe Kernen and Becky Quick

TAIPEI, Taiwan - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today called into CNBC's ‘Squawk Box' to discuss his weeklong Indo-Pacific tour, Chinese censorship and oppression, and President Trump's efforts to strengthen U.S. trade. Watch the full interview here.

When asked about Houston Rockets general manger Daryl Morey's tweet on the Hong Kong protesters and the N.B.A.'s response, Sen. Cruz urged American companies not to be ‘willing instrumentalities' of the Chinese Communist Party's censorship:

"What Daryl Morey said was perfectly reasonable. The protesters in Hong Kong are standing up for democracy. They're standing up for human rights. And indeed, they are walking the streets of Hong Kong carrying quotes from America's Founding Fathers. They're asking for the same rights that everyone wants.

"As soon as Daryl Morey tweeted this, [Tencent] suspended the Rockets coverage in China. Knocked them off TV, knocked them off the internet, boycotted them, and we suddenly saw a whole series of just abject apologies. And I got to say, the N.B.A. should be better than that. We should not be willing instrumentalities of Chinese censorship. It's one thing for China to censor their own citizens. But when American companies and a sports league like the N.B.A. that, is truly a global marquee brand, is willing to suppress itself simply in pursuit of additional dollars in China, I think that's really, really unfortunate and it's a dangerous precedent."

He also noted the N.B.A.'s willingness to virtue signal in the United States, but failure to stand up for free speech and human rights abroad:

"We've seen when different states in the United States have passed laws protecting religious liberty that athletic leagues have been perfectly willing to declare boycotts and denounce them loudly based on LGBTQ issues. Well that's easier to do because it doesn't cost you any money so it's lets them virtue signal all day long but there's nothing at stake. Here, when the Chinese Communists in Hong Kong are oppressing dissidents, are suppressing free speech, or violating human rights, where the stakes matter intensely and there is a choice between standing for free speech and human rights or making another buck, sadly, the N.B.A. has demonstrated where its priorities lay."

He continued, warning against American companies exporting the repressive policies and practices of the Chinese Communist Party:

"And I believe we can do better. I think what the N.B.A. should have done, is the N.B.A. should've stood with the Rockets. [...] Any time an American company does business with China, there are risks entailed. But if our companies are all willing to be essentially an arm of Chinese Censorship, that exports their repressive policies and regime to the United States and globally."

When asked about whether China and America can reach a trade deal, Sen. Cruz praised President Trump for leaning in hard on China:

"Well look, I'm hopeful that we get a deal, that we'll get a good deal with China. I think trade with China is important. And I think when it comes to the president's trade agenda, where it has been, where I agree the most is concerning China. China's trade policies have for a long time not been fair and not been on an even or level playing ground. They export about $500 billion into the United States and they only import about $100 billion. And so I think the president is right to try to lean in and get fairer terms."

Sen. Cruz also discussed his visit to the Indo-Pacific region, where he is meeting with American friends and allies on matters of national security and trade. So far this week, Sen. Cruz has traveled to Pearl Harbor, Tokyo, and Taiwan.

"I am in the midst of an Indo-Pacific tour. I started off in Hawaii meeting with the Indo-Pacific command and Indo-Pacific fleet and getting fairly extensive briefings and meetings with them about the security threats throughout the Indo-Pacific. I then was in Japan, yesterday and earlier today. Met with Prime Minister Abe, had a good discussion both about trade and the Japanese-American trade deal that we just signed this week, which I think is great. It's great for Texas farmers and ranchers opening up more agricultural trade and it's great for commerce annually. But also spent quite a bit of time talking with Prime Minister Abe about mutual security threats. And the dominant security threat for Japan, for Taiwan, where I am now, and the other countries that I'm going on this tour, the dominant threat in this region is China. China is getting more and more aggressive militarily. They are investing billions in modernizing their military. They are investing massive amounts of money engaging in economic coercion."

He continued:

"The purpose of this tour that I'm engaged in, we've really envisioned as a ‘Friends and Allies tour' meeting with the friends and allies of America that throughout the Indo-Pacific and discussing ways to most effectively stand up to this growing geo-political threat coming from increasing Chinese aggressiveness."

Stay tuned for more updates from Sen. Cruz's tour here.