Despite drawing some criticism over calls on the White House to cancel an upcoming official state visit by China’s president, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker maintained that it’s the right move to make right now.
During a campaign stop in Iowa Thursday morning, Walker argued the U.S. should not be giving the country one of its highest honors “at a time we should probably be taking China to the woodshed for the fact that, just recently…they’ve been directly involved in cyber-attacks against the federal government of the United States.”
Critics of the Republican presidential candidate have been quick to point out that Walker has previously praised Chinese President Xi Jinping while on a trade mission to China in 2013. The governor claimed that his role at that time was different, citing his previously stated position that sitting governor’s should not comment on foreign policy issues while traveling abroad. “I believe there’s a long standing tradition…that you don’t undermine the President when you’re overseas and you don’t talk about foreign policy on behalf of the United States,” Walker argued.
AUDIO: Gov. Walker discusses difference in his takes on US-China relations (:37)
Walker also dismissed claims that cancelling the state visit could harm trade between the U.S. and China, which includes millions of dollars in exports from Wisconsin. He said that trade would have no reason to stop, and the move would “in no way undermine that.”
Walker is currently on a two-day swing through Iowa. He’s scheduled to deliver a foreign policy speech on Friday, during a stop in South Carolina.