Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC-01) joined 11 members of the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to fiscal responsibility and national security, to introduce legislation requiring the U.S. government to identify, analyze, and combat efforts by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Preventing China from Exploiting COVID-19 Act would require 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 PRC has exploited or could exploit the pandemic, which experts claim 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.
“Anyone taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic for political or economic advantage needs to be held accountable,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “This legislation will allow us to get to the bottom of whether or not the Communist Party of China has exploited this public health and economic crisis and undermined our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, so we can protect American interests.”
The Preventing China from Exploiting COVID-19 Act requires the DNI report to examine the following topics, among others:
- the techniques used by the PRC 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 PRC’s motivations for such efforts.
- the activities undertaken by the PRC, like cyber-theft, intended to acquire information and intellectual property related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines.
- the manner in which the PRC 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 PRC 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 PRC is disseminating misinformation about COVID-19, including on U.S. social media platforms
- how all of these activities, taken together, further the Communist Party’s 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.
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