Republicans are using a lot more than tariffs to hold China accountable as it becomes a growing threat to the United States.
President Donald Trump’s trade negotiations with Chinese President Xi Jinping have been soaking up quite a bit of attention as the two governments continue to levy tariffs against each other.
While the Trump administration may see implementing fair trade policies with China as a necessity for a strong economy, it is becoming clear that these negotiations play a vital role in U.S. national security as well.
As IJR previously reported, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the continued theft of intellectual property by China is putting the security of Americans at risk as the Chinese military continues to grow.
For this reason, many Republicans see curtailing China as a top priority. Here are six ways — beyond trade — that Republicans are pushing back on the Chinese government.
Protecting Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (IP) theft is a major problem for American innovators. According to a CNBC survey conducted in March, one in five U.S. companies have experienced intellectual property theft by Chinese companies. This theft harms American businesses that invest in innovation, only to have it stolen and made cheaper by Chinese manufacturers.
Chinese theft of intellectual property could also put American national security at risk, as technological innovation is stolen to be used to develop the Chinese military.
To hold the Chinese accountable for this continued theft, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — who has been on a relentless mission to hold China accountable — proposed a bill that would “increase taxes on multinational corporations’ income earned in China at a rate similar to the lost value of stolen IP and technology.”
Securing U.S. Democracy
There has been a lot of attention paid to the democratic threat posed by Russia, but the Chinese government has similar capabilities and incentives to meddle in American democracy.
Rubio has a bill that would require a report from the federal government on the role of the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China in U.S. elections.
The senator notes in his bill:
The political influence operations efforts of the Government of China and the Communist Party of China have received less scrutiny than similar efforts of the Government of the Russian Federation, but given China’s economic strength and the growing apparatus being used to spread its influence globally, efforts to promote its authoritarian ideal pose significant and consequential long-term challenges to United States interests and values.
Rubio’s legislation would require an unclassified report of all attempts by China to influence elections so that authorities better understand how to protect against these attempts.
Cracking Down on Surveillance
Most Chinese companies are partially owned or, at a minimum, strongly influenced by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government. This means products created by Chinese companies could be susceptible to its desires.
This is especially concerning for technology and surveillance products made by China. Huawei, a cellphone manufacturer, has been accused of surveilling Americans, and consumers worldwide, without consent.
Because of this, several bills have been proposed by Republicans, including Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), that recognize Huawei as a security threat and propose penalties on telecommunications companies that breach U.S. law.
Preventing Chinese Military Growth
As IJR previously reported, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) recently proposed legislation that would stop U.S. technology companies from working with the Chinese government on products that would benefit its military or could be “used by the Chinese government to violate human rights.”
This bill would prevent companies like Google from benefiting China. Google has already helped to develop a censored search engine for the Chinese government, and the Pentagon has acknowledged that the tech giant has had a “direct benefit” on the Chinese military.
Protecting American Universities
In the same vein as protections against intellectual property theft, Cotton and Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) have similar bills that would secure the integrity of American universities.
When China can’t copy our military tech, they send their scientists to American universities to steal it. My bill would keep Chinese military scientists far away from our campuses & labs: https://t.co/xpmVHokcJx
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) May 14, 2019
Banks’ bill would require the Departement of Education to create a task force to “address the threat of foreign government influence and threats to academic research integrity on college campuses.”
Cotton’s bill — which is also sponsored by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cruz, Hawley, and Rubio — would “prohibit individuals employed or sponsored by these Chinese military institutions from receiving student or research visas to the United States.”
Condemning Human Rights Violations
While most of the efforts by Republicans have to do with protecting the liberties of Americans, Rubio has also drafted a condemnation of the human rights atrocities being committed against Turkic Muslims Uighurs in Xinjiang.
The Uighurs are being held in concentration camps in China. The camps are forcing them to abandon their religion and are indoctrinating them toward the Communist Party of China.
Today Senate Foreign Relations will vote on our Xighur Human Rights Policy Act to hold accountable #China officials responsible for grotesque violations of human rights including the internment of as many as 1 million Uighurs & Muslim minoritieshttps://t.co/GUfvmN6jJS
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 22, 2019
Rubio has also called for sanctions of the Chinese government for the atrocities being committed against Chinese Muslims.