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America needs to stand up to China — since the administration won’t do so, Congress must act

Every week we get new proof that China is penetrating our borders and violating our national sovereignty. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) tempo for such operations is increasing and the scope of its activities is broadening.   

A black market Chinese-owned biolab in California, where officials found more than 200 infectious agents including E. coli, coronavirus, malaria, hepatitis B and C, dengue, chlamydia, human herpes, rubella and HIV, operated for years. Although state and federal official were aware of its existence, its deadly research was only exposed when a disgruntled creditor took action.  

We’ve had two recent arrests of U.S. Navy sailors selling secrets to China.  

We’ve had a Chinese company suing American farmers for their efforts to stop the company’s purchase of U.S. farmland near a an Air Force base. 

We’ve learned that Chinese malware has penetrated key U.S. military facilities in Guam and elsewhere. 

And, we’ve seen flood of military-age Chinese males illegally crossing our southern border

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 Chinese corporate securities traded in the U.S. capital markets remain not compliant with federal securities laws or disclosure rules. Many of these companies that benefit from American investment employ child and slave labor while others are part of China’s military-industrial complex.  

This is no friendly competition as the Biden administration would like to portray our relationship with China. Beijing is relentless in its efforts to dominate America and change our way of life. Sadly, the Biden administration seems bent on accommodating Beijing on every issue. The CDC announced, for example, that it will take no action regarding the illegal biolab while Treasury and the USTR are contemplating lifting U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel.  

In May we published an essay in Foreign Affairs urging Congress to take the lead in dealing with the growing Chinese threat against our homeland. That call has become more urgent in the intervening three month. 

When Congress returns this month, it is critical for a bipartisan group of members to follow through on the key issues necessary to protect our sovereignty from the CCP’s malign activities. 

Banning the sale of U.S. real estate, especially farmland to Chinese companies and entities should top the priority list. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced a bill banning land sale to individuals or companies that can be controlled by the CCP. His legislation would be a good place to start building a bipartisan consensus on the issue. Over in the House, bills sponsored by Republican Reps. Beth van Duyne (Texas), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), and Rick Crawford (Ark.) offer similar bans.   

Congress should also take action to limit China’s virtually unfettered access to U.S. technology and capital markets. The Biden administration took a small step in this direction, with its recent ban on sale to China of certain advanced technologies, the ban only stops investment in three critical technology sectors—AI, quantum, and semiconductors—and only applies to investments in privately held companies. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House’s Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said of the administration’s plan: “The loopholes are wide enough to sail the PLA Navy fleet through.” It’s up to Congress to seal those loopholes.   

The mass influx of military-age Chinese males streaming across our southern border is a scandal and calls for an immediate congressional investigation, perhaps by a special select committee. Americans need to be reassured this isn’t part of a Beijing plan to prepare the ground for an eventual kinetic conflict with China, through acts of sabotage, espionage or other covert operations.  

Finally, the comprehensive ban on Chinese social media platforms TikTok and WeChat we recommended in May, is overdue. Everyone now admits the serious security risks and national security threats these and other Chinese platforms pose. The administration is going to continue to drag its feet on this issue in an effort to curry favor with Beijing. So, Congress must act and send a bipartisan bill banning TikTok and other platforms to the president’s desk.   

The Biden administration started its tenure with an apparent understanding of the threat China poses to the United States. Sadly, in response to one Chinese provocation after another, the administration has downplayed their seriousness and sought to accommodate Beijing. As with dictatorships in the past, Chairman Xi Jinping and his comrades see only weakness in our present efforts to appease them. If America is going to stand up to the Chinese Communists before it is too late, Congress take the lead now.   

Robert C. O’Brien served as U.S. National Security Adviser from 2019 to 2021. Arthur Herman is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. He served as a Senior Adviser on the National Security Council from 2020 to 2021. 

Tags CCP Joe Biden Jon Tester U.S.-China relations