Fourteen House Republicans are moving forward with work on the “China Task Force,” created on May 7 to address and counter China’s growing influence, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s the second iteration of the group after Democrats refused to join in February, but Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who serves on the task force, doesn’t think the bipartisan consensus on China is broken, telling Fox News he knows some Democrats really want “to be on this.”
“I’m not going to make any accusations because I want this to be a bipartisan issue, but let’s think about what was happening at the end of February, President Trump’s travel ban, Nancy Pelosi saying to go have dinner in Chinatown. I think they were worried more about using racism as a weapon or being accused of racism than actually taking on the China problem,” Kinzinger told Fox News.
The task force has been “divvied up” among members to address technology concerns, national security and defense issues, and supply chain factors coming out of China. Acting as a kind of broad legislative review, Kinzinger said almost “every area of our life is affected by this,” highlighting China’s growing influence here at home.
While on the task force, Kinzinger has introduced two pieces of legislation to protect American consumers from the threat of data theft from Chinese companies.
One proposal calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to label websites or mobile applications if they’re owned or distributed by a Chinese-affiliated company or the Chinese government itself. Kinzinger is calling it the Internet Application Integrity and Disclosure Act.
Users of the popular app TikTok, which was recently sold to a Chinese company, may be sharing their data with Chinese entities unbeknownst to them. The U.S. has opened a national security review of the company.
“There are so many people on TikTok, members of Congress that are on TikTok … the Chinese government has access we think, to all of your information, everything in your home, every place you’ve been, all your cool stories, so we want that clearly labeled on all the apps.”
Kinzinger acknowledges that there will never be a time when every product and service is “made in America,” but says he understands the need to rely more on other regional trading partners and to wean our supply chains off China especially when it comes to medical supplies and prescription drugs.
“Does that mean that some goes to India, Indonesia, Vietnam? Yes. We can bring some critical areas to the U.S. or near allies, but the realistic goal should be out of China,” Kinzinger said.
There is also broad bipartisanship on the Hong Kong question. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week notified Congress of his intent to decertify Hong Kong’s self-autonomy, saying in a statement, “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.” This move will undoubtedly impact trade relations with the United States.
Pompeo’s comments come after China passed a law restricting Hong Kong’s ability to protest the communist government, making it a crime to undermine Chinese authority.
Some administration officials fear the territory “may be lost,” but Kinzinger disagrees.
“No, I don’t think it’s lost to China … Does that mean the U.S. is going to send troops to Hong Kong, no, but there is a lot we can do. If you look from an economic perspective, from a Taiwan perspective, from pushing back in the South China Sea … look at the young people of Hong Kong, they don’t want to be Communist, they want to be free.”