Blue Dogs Introduce Legislation to Combat Chinese Government Efforts to Exploit the COVID-19 Pandemic
WASHINGTON—Today, 13 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to fiscal responsibility and national security, introduced legislation requiring the U.S. government to identify, analyze, and combat efforts by the Chinese government to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort was led by the Blue Dog Coalition’s Co-Chair for Administration, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), and the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Task Force on National Security, Reps. Kendra Horn (OK-05) and Max Rose (NY-11). The Coalition, which consists of 26 pragmatic Democrats, has endorsed the legislation.
The legislation, called the Preventing China from Exploiting COVID-19 Act, was previewed in a letter that the Blue Dogs sent to House leadership on May 26th, which stated that it was “imperative for Members of Congress to work across party lines if we want to influence Chinese policy and to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable when its actions cross the line, as they have in the case of COVID-19.”
The bill requires the Director of National Intelligence—in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense, State, and Homeland Security—to prepare an assessment of the different ways in which the Chinese government has exploited or could exploit the pandemic, which originated in China, in order to advance China’s interests and to undermine the interests of the United States, its allies, and the rules-based international order. The assessment must be provided to Congress within 90 days and posted in unclassified form on the DNI’s website.
“No one should seek to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic for political or economic advantage,” said Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “We must examine whether the Chinese Communist Party has used intellectual cyber-theft, misinformation campaigns, and aggressive territorial maneuvers, among other tactics to take advantage of the pandemic. We need to get to the bottom of where the Chinese government has exploited COVID-19 and undermined our fight against the global pandemic. Where they’ve crossed the line, they must be held accountable.”
“Bipartisan concerns in Congress about Chinese government policies have only increased once COVID-19 emerged in China and spread to virtually every country in the world. Since the start of this pandemic, we have witnessed a pattern of alarming behavior from the Chinese government in a range of areas,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chair for Administration. “This bill would provide U.S. policymakers with an intelligence community assessment of the different ways the Chinese government may be seeking to exploit the pandemic. Armed with this information, we can hold the Chinese government accountable and protect American interests.”
“From the opioid epidemic, to trade, to our intellectual property, China has a long history of trying to rip off America,” said Rep. Max Rose (NY-11), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “Why should we think the coronavirus pandemic would be any different? It’s not a question of if, but how China is going to use this crisis to its advantage—and we need to be working to prevent that.”
The Preventing China from Exploiting COVID-19 Act requires the DNI report to examine the following topics, among others:
- the techniques used by the Chinese government to obstruct or retaliate against nations that have sought a full inquiry into China’s role in the emergence and spread of COVID-19, and the Chinese government’s motivations for such efforts.
- the activities undertaken by the Chinese government, like cyber-theft, intended to acquire information and intellectual property related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines.
- the manner in which the Chinese government seeks to advance its foreign policy interests by providing economic aid or medical equipment to nations adversely affected by COVID-19, and the degree to which this aid makes recipient countries more likely to adopt positions favorable to China and detrimental to the United States.
- the ways in which the Chinese government is using, or may be planning to use, the global disruption and distraction associated with COVID-19 as an opportunity to more aggressively pursue longstanding objectives, including with respect to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and territorial disputes.
- the means by which the Chinese government is disseminating misinformation about COVID-19, including on U.S. social media platforms.
- how all of these activities, taken together, further Chinese interests, and the extent to which they constitute a continuation of the longstanding practices of China or represent an evolution in the foreign policy behavior of China.
In addition to Horn, Murphy, and Rose, the bill is supported by the following Blue Dogs: Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Ed Case (HI-01), Ben McAdams (UT-04), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jared Golden (ME-02), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), and Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02).