The House Republican China Task Force on Wednesday unveiled a detailed plan on how to counter the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to replace the United States as the world’s superpower.
House Republicans launched the task force in May to develop new solutions to address the CCP’s malign behavior.
House Democrats had originally agreed to be part of the task force but backed out days before the launch, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calling the focus on China a “distraction.” Instead, Democrats have tried to focus blame for the coronavirus’s impact on President Donald Trump rather than on China.
However, Republicans forged ahead with the challenge of figuring out how to reorient the U.S.’s policy towards China, meeting with 125 policy experts, business leaders, other members of Congress, and current and former administration officials from both sides of the aisle.
Their resulting report includes more than 400 specific recommendations that can be done within a year to 18 months. Of the recommendations, 178 are legislative recommendations and 62 percent of those are bipartisan, and one-third of those have already passed either the House or the Senate.
“Americans increasingly recognize the danger posed by our dependence on Communist China,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday at a press conference.
He slammed Democrats’ unwillingness to participate: “This is not about partisanship. One of my greatest pride in the China Task Force [is that] more than 60 percent of all the ideas in here are bipartisan.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) criticized China for allowing the coronavirus to spread from within its borders. “It’s critical that we hold China accountable.” He also slammed Pelosi for not participating in the task force: “Why won’t Speaker Pelosi hold China accountable?”
The task force brought together 11 House committees, and its recommendations on countering China would encompass all tools in the U.S. government’s apparatus — not just military.
The recommendations include securing the supply chain — prioritizing national security and critical medical supplies, including targeted tax incentives to accelerate research and development for critical technology like semiconductors; considering a requirement to divest from companies with ties to the Chinese military-industrial complex; and working towards a bilateral free trade agreement with Taiwan.
The recommendations also include increasing funding for STEM education to create a more capable, skilled American workforce; investing in the U.S. military and activities needed to maintain its superiority over the CCP’s military; evaluating whether the CCP’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang amount to genocide; and providing a safe harbor for Hong Kong refugees.
“COVID has woken up America to our supply chain problem. Not just in medical but from critical minerals and on,” McCarthy said. “Secondly, we need to innovate the DOD. You think of hypersonics, AI, and others. We cannot sit back and think the rise of China will not affect us.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) added: “For years and years we tried to bring the People’s Republic of China into the family of nations as a friend, as an ally. But as [former Secretary of State James] Baker recently told me, it just did not work.”
“For decades the United States and its allies have been asleep at the wheel, until COVID-19,” McCaul added. “COVID created an awakening experience for the American people. And the sleeping giant has finally awoken.”
A task force aide called the plan “definitely one of the first statements of its kind,” in that it views the CCP as a national security threat due to its Marxist ideology.
The aide said it was also rare in that so many different committees worked together on one topic versus being protective of their own jurisdiction.
“A new consensus is emerging,” the aide said. “We’ve seen over the past in recent months a new attitude toward China, waking up to the threat of the CCP.”
“We are taking on this threat from all angles … putting our best policy foot forward to change course,” the aide said.