Lankford Cautions Vigilance of China’s Aggressive Agenda
CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s floor speech.
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor to caution our nation about the dangers of China’s aggressive and often predatory actions toward the international community and the US. Lankford discussed the escalating tensions in Hong Kong between the people and the government, both the local Hong Kong government and the increasingly intervening Chinese communist government.
This week, Lankford and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) released the Safeguarding Internet Freedom in Hong Kong Act, which pushes back on China’s aggressive actions to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom by bolstering firewall circumvention infrastructure in Hong Kong. In 2019, Lankford sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to push for additional firewall circumvention tools to diversify the technology portfolio and increase the effectiveness of the federal government’s efforts.
As a commissioner on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), Lankford has worked to hold China accountable for its human rights abuses and predatory lending practices. Lankford was also a cosponsor of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which was signed into law by President Trump in 2019. Lankford helped introduce the Transparency for Confucius Institutes Act and engaged with Education Secretary DeVos to investigate the Institutes as a way for China to exert undue influence on the American academic community and beyond.
The world is watching what’s happening with COVID-19. It’s affecting every single one of our families in some way. While the world is watching and we’re dealing with all the issues in the United States, you can’t lose track of what’s happening on the world stage because China is using this moment when the world is distracted to be able to push its way into Hong Kong and to break its word. When we deal with China, we know what they’ve done, the predatory tactics they’ve done, either to their own people or to countries around the world.
In the United States of America, when we do foreign aid, we help other countries gain more security, freedom, economic growth. We don’t ask anything in return. We engage to be able to help them. China is working with developing countries around the world by moving into countries and taking collateral of their ports, airports, and establishing military bases around the world when poor countries default on the loans they give them. They’re not helping other countries. That’s right. They’re taking over other countries. They’re stepping into country after country and offering them technology from companies like Huawei. But what they’re really doing is gathering their people and gathering data on people all around the world. The security systems are not there to set up. They’re there for the dictatorship of China to be able to track what’s going on there in the emergencies development. We should be aware of what China is doing and we should not ignore this moment for the free people of Hong Kong.
Today many Americans are aware of how China has handled the issue of protective equipment, medical equipment that weigh desperately needed in March, April, May, much of it manufactured in China, we could not get because the communist government of China kept the materials from American companies that were manufacturing in China, the Chinese communist government wouldn’t allow the export of that. They just took that equipment over, putting all the schedules behind. Suddenly Americans woke up and understood that our supply chains are at risk. Our pharmaceutical supply chains are at risk. Our PPE Supply chains are at risk, and what many people don’t know is that our rare earth minerals are at risk. A lot of folks like the solar panels and electric car batteries. Well, great except for the rare earth minerals that are in those are completely dependent on China. And if we don’t develop our own sourcing for those rare earth minerals, which we have those same rare earth minerals here. If we don’t develop our own supply chain, our own manufacturing for pharmaceuticals and for the precursors of pharmaceuticals, we’ll continue to be vulnerable to the Chinese government and at the moment the communist government determines they will take over that supply and we will be at risk.
For decades, the Confucius Institutes have thrived on college campuses, spreading a communist philosophy all through our college campuses. It is now at a moment that college campuses and leadership in colleges are starting to wake up to be able to say, why are we allowing communist indoctrination on our campuses? It is a bill that I have pushed, that I will continue to push. It is an issue that I have pushed for years dealing with communist Chinese spying on American technology, stealing technology and also stealing our scientists and inventions.
They come over with a grant from the United States and said they’re going to send over research and really what they’re doing is harvesting research and taking it back to China. They take over any items of production and all the manufacturing that comes to China, they’ll then take that same technology, move it to a different factory and literally compete against the first company because to do business in China, you have to turn over all your intellectual property to the communist government, who then takes it an uses it on their own. The Chinese communist government is not the ally of freedom for the world. We should be aware of that. Certainly the people of Hong Kong are aware of that.
In 1997, after 150 years as a British territory, Hong Kong became a part of China under the joint declaration. It was had in one country, two systems that Hong Kong for 50 years would remain autonomous and free. Well, just over two decades later, the Chinese government has broken their promise and Hong Kong is no longer free. While the world is consumed with what’s happening with COVID-19, the communist government has moved into Hong Kong and has taken it over. They passed a law in Beijing that they sent over and declared into Hong Kong that you can’t have anything of what they call subversion, organization and perpetuation of what they call terroristic activities, conclusion with a foreign country or external element, which I’ll explain later. This new security law was delivered to the people of Hong Kong at midnight and went into place immediately. The next step was Chinese communist police, military law enforcement moved into Hong Kong to begin to implement this. Threats to free speech immediately stopped.
The protesters on the street just wishing to be able to vote and to be able it speak their mind were immediately rounded up. Teachers and academics have been arrested or fired or threatened. Communist Chinese leaders have contacted them to represent them about teaching about human rights in their classroom. Remembering that in Hong Kong it was required. It was a required class in Hong Kong just weeks ago to learn about human rights and freedom and now the Chinese government is removing those teachers and threatening any other teach that teaches about human rights that they will be removed. Faith leaders have been squashed.
You see under this security law that is passed, you can’t have any external element of collusion. They define external element as any kind of worship of God as well that does not align with the communist government. So any faith-based group that is there in Hong Kong is immediately being squashed. The Muslim Uyghurs are gathered up in communist china and nut in concentration camps to reeducate them on how to be more Chinese. Now the people of Hong Kong are experiencing that same type of oppression as the first step has stepped into to take away their right to free speech, their right to gather and protest and now also their right to be able to have freedom of faith. Leaders of the democracy movement have been rounded up and arrested. This is something we should not ignore. We have said as a world, never again. And we should engage.
While I know many people in my state will say we should focus on COVID-19—and we should. There is much that needs to be done. We cannot take our eye off of freedom and the world as well and the people of Hong Kong as they lose their freedom, the world loses freedom. And china sees it can move into one more place, one more time. Taiwan is next and they will continue to be able to move in this same way. We should stay engaged.
There’re multiple bills this body has done on sanctions, and we should continue. We should continue to be able to press in to be able to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves in Hong Kong, and that are being isolated. Senator Tim Kaine and I just dropped a bill yesterday dealing with internet freedom for the people of Hong Kong, saying that the American government should be engaged in trying to break through what is called the great fire wall in china so we know they will extend this fire wall into Hong Kong as well and will prevent the people of Hong Kong from access to social media, interacting with each other or information on the outside world just like they have with the people of china. But the people of Hong Kong have grown up and lived in freedom. They know what it means to get outside information, and the Chinese government is actually working to shut that down.
We should actively work to push back on that to make sure the free people of Hong Kong continue to be able to communicate with each other and the outside world and so that we can stay engaged with that basic function of human rights. It’s why senator Kaine and I are so passionate about this. We should engage as a government to make sure they continue to have free speech as we have. When anyone loses their human rights indignities, the world loses human rights and dignities. There are many things that need to happen with COVID-19 right now and we’re actively working on those things as well, and should. But we should not lose track of freedom. Freedom is our responsibility to model and to live and to help other free people to guard. Let’s stand with the people of Hong Kong.