Feb 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Cliff Sims, Trumpworld China hawk, named to U.S.-China commission

Cliff Sims with then-President Trump. Photo: The White House

Cliff Sims with then-President Trump. Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House

Cliff Sims, a Trump administration alumnus, was appointed Monday by House Speaker Mike Johnson as a commissioner on the United States–China Economic and Security Review Commission.

  • The commission investigates national security implications of trade and economic ties between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Sims is viewed as one of Trumpworld's most vocal and aggressive China hawks — signaling the speaker plans to pursue a hawkish China policy, a top official told Axios.

  • Sims, a proud native of Alabama, was former President Trump's deputy director of national intelligence for strategy and communications.

A second commissioner was also named by the speaker: Leland Miller is CEO of China Beige Book, a data analytics and economic forecasting firm.

  • "A noted authority on China's economy and financial system, he is a frequent [media] commentator," Miller's bio says. "He is an elected member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, an elected life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of the Global Interdependence Center, and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council."

Context: Sims was a key player in multiple China-related efforts when he was with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He was a close adviser to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who pushed the intelligence community toward a more hawkish lens on China.

  • That included working closely with Ratcliffe on a provocative letter to the House and Senate Intelligence committees, asserting that China sought to influence the 2020 presidential election to defeat Trump.
  • Sims advocated for declassification of intelligence on COVID-19 origins — ultimately released through the State Department — that bolstered the case for the virus having originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
  • Sims helped Ratcliffe write, and promote globally, a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined: "China Is National Security Threat No. 1."

What they're saying: Ratcliffe said in a statement to Axios that Sims "played an integral role in our efforts to shift the Intelligence Community's focus toward an adversarial China."

  • Sims, a University of Alabama graduate, has founded multiple companies, serving as CEO and achieving successful exits.
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