Blue Dogs Back Legislation to Support U.S. Efforts to Counter China’s Global Influence

Jul 22, 2021
Press Release
WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to national security, announced its endorsement of two pieces of legislation aimed at supporting the efforts of the United States to counter the Chinese government’s influence around the world.
 
The Blue Dogs endorsed the Boosting Long-term U.S. Engagement in the Pacific Act, also known as the BLUE Pacific Act, which would establish a comprehensive, long-term U.S. strategy across the Pacific Islands region, and authorize $1 billion total in U.S. assistance for the Pacific Islands region over the next five fiscal years. The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Ed Case (HI-01), the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Policy and Legislative Strategy. The Blue Dogs also endorsed Assessing China’s Presence and Influence in Latin America and the Caribbean Act, which would require the U.S. government to prepare for Congress a comprehensive assessment of China’s efforts to expand its presence and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean and to describe how these efforts could undermine American interests. That legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Whip.
 
This endorsement follows the Blue Dog Coalition’s call for the establishment of a bipartisan Commission to assess the United States’ preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The proposed Commission’s investigation into the origins of the virus would complement the work of the intelligence community, which was recently directed by President Biden to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information to reach a more definitive conclusion on the origins of COVID-19.
 
“The BLUE Pacific Act helps reassert U.S. global leadership and engagement in the face of China’s growing influence in the Pacific Islands,” said Rep. Ed Case (HI-01). “This legislation deepens our relationships with long-standing Pacific Islands partners and allies that share our pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific and the continuation of our shared democratic values.”
 
“I’m pleased the Blue Dog Coalition is endorsing my bill to help U.S. policymakers understand what China is doing in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, in order to create an effective strategy to counter China’s aggressive conduct and to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its actions,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07). “China’s self-serving efforts to project power in this region have the potential to threaten our national security, our economic prosperity, and our democratic values.”
 
BACKGROUND ON THE BLUE PACIFIC ACT:
 
Introduced by Rep. Ed Case (HI-01), the BLUE Pacific Act would establish a comprehensive, long-term U.S. strategy across the Pacific Islands region that:
 
  • Expands U.S. diplomatic and development presence in the Pacific Islands;
  • Increases U.S. security cooperation and assistance to address regional maritime security, transnational crime and law enforcement issues, including Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing;
  • Deepens and diversifies bilateral and multilateral trade between the U.S. and the region and invests in trade capacity building programs for the region;
  • Supports regional economic and social development in areas of public health, education, infrastructure, climate change resilience and adaptation, and more;
  • Builds on existing regional institutions and frameworks, including efforts of like-minded allies and partners of the United States;
  • Promotes shared values like press freedom and gender equality; and
  • Strengthens people-to-people relationships and civil society.
 
The BLUE Pacific Act includes numerous improvements to reflect new developments, priorities and considerations. It also includes proposed authorizations of almost $1 billion total in U.S. assistance for the Pacific Islands region over the next five fiscal years.
 
BACKGROUND ON THE ASSESSING CHINA’S PRESENCE AND INFLUENCE IN LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN ACT:
 
Introduced by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), the Assessing China’s Presence and Influence in Latin America and Caribbean Act, would require the U.S. government to prepare for Congress a comprehensive assessment of China’s efforts to expand its presence and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean and to describe how these efforts could undermine American interests. Under the bill, U.S. government officials would then be required to brief Congress on America’s strategy to counter China’s more malign activities in this vital region.
 
The assessment would be jointly prepared by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. intelligence community, and the National Security Council, and would have both an unclassified and a classified section. It would examine, among other things:
 
  • countries in the region with which China maintains the closest relationships and in which it is making significant investments or loans, funding infrastructure projects, or providing foreign assistance;
  • China’s relationship with the governments of Venezuela and Cuba;
  • China efforts to exploit the region’s natural resources, including oil, natural gas, and rare earth metals;
  • Chinese military assets and activities, its sale or transfer of defense equipment, and its role in transnational crime and drug trafficking in the region;
  • whether Chinese investments in the region could have military applications, enable China to intercept U.S. communication, or otherwise threaten U.S. national security;
  • China’s COVID-19 “vaccine diplomacy” in the region and the conditions it attaches to such assistance;
  • the degree to which China has used its influence to build leverage over countries in the region and to coerce those countries into supporting China’s foreign policy goals;
  • the specific actions taken by China in the region that present the greatest threat to United States’ interests.
 
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