Nikki Haley‘s campaign has accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of hiding evidence of his state’s economic development push in China, after a state agency appeared to scrub mentions of a Hong Kong satellite office from its website.
It comes after Haley and DeSantis, both candidates for the GOP presidential nomination, traded barbs on their China records, in a brewing feud that is expected to carry over into the next debate on November 8.
On Tuesday, the Washington Examiner published a report on the spat, noting that DeSantis used to chair the state’s public-private economic development partnership Enterprise Florida, now called Select Florida, which sought Chinese investment in the state.
By Thursday morning, Select Florida’s website had removed an 146-page 2020 report that mentioned China 75 times, as well as a map showing an international satellite office in Hong Kong, according to The Messenger.
‘Ron DeSantis has been knee-deep in recruiting Chinese companies to Florida for years,’ said a Haley spokesperson in a statement. ‘Now that he’s running for president, he’s going to great lengths to hide all the evidence. The more Ron DeSantis loses, the more he lies.’
Nikki Haley’s campaign has accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis of hiding evidence of his state’s economic development push in China, after a state agency appeared to scrub mentions of a Hong Kong satellite office from its website
The map identifying a satellite office in Hong Kong was removed from the Select Florida website between Wednesday and Thursday, according to a new report
Spokespersons for DeSantis’ campaign and administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com on Thursday night.
However, the administration told The Messenger that the website changes were part of a larger overhaul resulting from the state law that dissolved Enterprise Florida and created Select Florida in its place.
It said it had it removed some items from Select Florida’s website that were ‘outdated information on a website for an organization that the governor abolished, so it was updated accordingly.’
DeSantis’s office said Select Florida’s predecessor entity cut ties with China-related businesses this year, ‘upon the realization that companies on the Hong Kong stock exchange have become infiltrated with investments from China’s military.’
‘Governor DeSantis and his administration have been unpacking the educational, economic, contractual, intellectual and security issues related to China since he took office in 2019,’ the administration said.
‘As most states are discovering, the deep reach of covert Chinese interests has been building for decades, and unraveling these ties takes a persistent effort.’
DeSantis and Haley, who are a distant second and third in GOP primary polls after Donald Trump, have clashed repeatedly over China as they seek to stand out in the lead up to next week’s debate in Miami.
By Thursday morning, Select Florida’s website had removed an 146-page report from 2020 (seen in part above) that mentioned China 75 times
The spat began after DeSantis’ campaign and super PAC took swipes at Haley over her record on China during her tenure as South Carolina governor.
Never Back Down, the super PAC backing DeSantis, released a 30-second spot this week accusing Haley of ‘dangerous judgment’ on China while she was governor, the second such attack ad in recent weeks.
‘Nikki Haley spent her governorship courting Chinese businesses to South Carolina, calling them a friend, and failing to pursue corrective efforts to safeguard her state from the threat of the CCP,’ a DeSantis spokesman told the Examiner.
‘As president, Ron DeSantis will ensure America wins and China loses. Nikki Haley’s past actions show that she would continue to roll out the red carpet for the CCP, which is disqualifying for anyone running for president.’
A Haley spokesman fired back, saying: ‘Every governor running for president tried to recruit Chinese businesses to their state.’
‘Nikki Haley did it 10 years ago. Ron is aggressively recruiting Chinese companies now. The facts are clear. Ron DeSantis is lying about his record because he’s losing. That’s sad.’
The third Republican primary debate will take place in Miami next Wednesday.
NBC News will host the event at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and air it from 8pm to 10pm ET.