New Select China Committee Approved by House on Bipartisan Vote

New Select China Committee Approved by House on Bipartisan Vote
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on April 4, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

House Republicans and Democrats united in a rare display of bipartisanship on Jan. 10 to create a select committee that will examine and seek to counteract the multiple threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The vote on final passage of the authorizing resolution was 365 to 65, with 146 Democrats joining all 222 Republicans in voting for the proposal. The 65 “nay” votes were all cast by Democrats.

A succession of speakers from both parties extolled the creation of the new panel, with Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) telling colleagues that “this select committee will examine the threats from the Chinese Communist Party with a fine-tooth comb and expose them for the American people and for the whole world to fully understand.”

Barr said the panel is needed to “develop concrete solutions for how we can better position the United States to prevail in this competition and ensure that the 21st century is led by the United States and defined by a rules-based international order.”

Former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who now represents Montana in the House, described what he saw while leading a U.S. delegation in China.

“I can tell you their intentions are clear—control and dominance of the South China Sea and the entire hemisphere. It should be noted that China has the largest standing navy, greater than the United States’. It has stolen U.S. technology and increased its capacity for nuclear weapons,” Zinke said.

“On the environmental front, the People’s Republic of China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the largest source of Marine debris, the worst perpetrators of illegal, unreported fishing, [and] the world’s largest consumer of trafficked wildlife and timber products.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) recalled the period in the early 1990s when the United States invited China to join the international economic community by becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and U.S. businesses began investing heavily in the cheap labor provided by the Asian nation.

“I was one of those people 25 years ago who was part of the consensus that we could engage communist China into the world economy,” Blumenauer said, noting that he was able to travel extensively in China and met many of China’s leaders at the time.

“They were saying the right things; I think some of them were sincere. It was an encouraging opportunity. But over the course of the last 20 years, it’s taken a wrong turn. We have watched the Chinese play a cynical game. They have not lived up to their obligations under the WTO.”

Other Democrats qualified their support for the new committee by warning that it shouldn’t be used to encourage xenophobia against Americans of Chinese descent.

“This committee should not be used as an open invitation to traffic in blatant xenophobic, anti-China rhetoric that we know results in physical violence against Asian Americans,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) said. “We certainly saw this with [former President Donald] Trump’s labeling of COVID as the ‘China Virus.’”

Chu, who’s chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, encouraged the committee to “directly focus specific concerns related to the government of the People’s Republic of China.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) doubts that xenophobia would be part of the new congressional panel’s work.

“As an Asian American who represents the only Asian-majority district in the U.S., I would never support a committee that I thought would engage in xenophobia or attacks on the Chinese people,” he said.

Khanna said he was reassured because “this committee is not directed against China, but it is directed against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) will serve as chairman of the new select panel. He’s also a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the chamber’s Armed Services Committee. The panel will include seven Republicans and five Democrats, with the latter group to be selected by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

During the debate on the resolution establishing the new House panel, Gallagher described the threat posed by the CCP as the most serious facing the United States anywhere in the world.

“The CCP’s aggression is not limited to Taiwan, the South China Sea, Hong Kong. ... We see this aggression here at home, where the Party has stolen American intellectual property, technology, and industrial capacity, undermining our economy and good-paying American jobs.

“It is here at home where the Party’s extra-territorial totalitarianism terrorized Chinese students studying at our universities and targets Americans of Chinese dissent. And it’s here at home where thousands of Americans are poisoned each year with Fentanyl pre-cursored in China and a Chinese money laundering network. It’s time to understand the urgency of the threat.”

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) selected Gallagher to chair the panel.

“The Chinese Communist Party is the greatest geopolitical threat of our lifetime. We need a whole-of-government approach that will build on the efforts of the Republican-led China Task Force and ensure America is prepared to tackle the economic and security challenges posed by the CCP,” McCarthy said.

He said he chose Gallagher because the Wisconsin Republican “served in uniform as a Marine counterintelligence officer and has dedicated his time in Congress to understanding, educating, and defending America from the threat the CCP poses.”

“Mike Gallagher is exceptionally qualified and is the right person to lead and advance this important agenda at this vital moment,” McCarthy said.

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning senior Congressional correspondent for The Epoch Times. He covers Congress, national politics, and policy. Mr. Tapscott previously worked for Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Montgomery Journal, and Daily Caller News Foundation.
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