Senator Lankford Discusses Foreign Policy and Trade Issues with China on Senate Floor

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s remarks on the Senate floor.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) spoke on the Senate floor about international trade with China, including Section 301 tariffs and agricultural subsidies, China’s intellectual property abuses, and religious liberty in China.

This week, Lankford participated in the first Senate Finance Committee hearing of 2019 focused on trade and specifically the current state of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Lankford questioned US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during the Finance hearing about our trade relationship with China, Lighthizer’s views on the Appellate Body of the WTO, and Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Additionally, Lankford recently introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Import Tax Relief Act to require the Executive Branch to create an exclusion process for List 3 (and any future list) of Chinese imports subject to Section 301 tariff imposition. Last year Lankford joined a bipartisan group of senators to condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution of religious minorities and actions to limit the free expression and practice of faith in the People’s Republic of China. In 2015 Lankford successfully secured a Trade Promotion Authority amendment that promotes international religious freedom in our trade negotiations with nations like China.


On Chinese abuse of American intellectual property

(Starts at 2:18): China uses joint venture requirements on any foreign investment that they want to have an ownership in those companies actually doing business there. They put pressure on technology firms to be able to transfer their technology to China, if they’re going to actually going to sell to China. The result of that is, They may not take the product that is manufactured there that those original companies sell back to the United States, but they’ll take that information and then actually sell to other parts of the world from that stolen information from a technology transfer. It is akin to that that China maintains unfair licensing practices. Typically in other parts of the world our intellectual property that we have is guarded by that nation or that we actually have a licensing agreement with them that’s a fair market value, not so with China. They put pressure on entities and actually cheat and steal our intellectual property at times.

On Chinese cyber intrusion

(Starts at 3:29): China’s notorious for supporting cyber intrusions to be able to go take the information that they can’t get especially from American companies or western companies. If there’s a design that they’re interested in, whether that be an airplane, or whether that be 3-D printing, or whatever it may be that’s designed somewhere else, they reach in and try to be able to hack and steal it. This is not recent. This has gone on for quite a while. In 2014 the Department of Justice indicted five Chinese military hackers for cyber espionage against multiple United States corporations. Recently in 2017 the Department of Justice charged three Chinese nationals with hacking and theft of trade secrets, and it goes on and on and on.

On unfair Chinese agriculture subsidies

(Starts at 4:35): Thirty-two percent of the return for rice in China is a government subsidy back to rice farmers. Now I’ve had folks say the United States government, we also have a farm program, we have a farm bill. We provide subsidies as well. That is true, but our rice farmers have a two percent subsidies. Chinese rice farmers have a 32 percent subsidy. The World Trade Organization agreed with us on this, and they’ve determined that China is in violation and the United States can retaliate back on that. China’s using that policy and abusing that policy of subsidizing but it’s causing not only problems in China and with trade with China and their pricing of what they sell for, but it’s also causing prices and uncertainty worldwide. Let me give you a for instance: cotton farming—Oklahoma is big in cotton farming, but China has over subsidized cotton for years to their cotton farmers. So they are overproducing what they need or what they can sell. And currently 60 percent of the world’s cotton supplies are stacked up in China—just in piles not being used anywhere, but because China is subsidizing people to be able to produce it, they’re overproducing it in mass quantities. They have nowhere to be able to send it, and they’re just stacking cotton up in piles.

On Section 301 tariffs

(Starts at 8:31): This Administration laid down tariffs. So far three different tiers of tariffs. The first tier, every American company was allowed to be able to say, is there any other place that can do it and to be able to ask for exclusions through that process. If they could find exclusions they could petition the government and get out of them. The second tier, they were also allowed to be able to ask for exclusions through the process and basically a waiver to say this is the best place to do it, there’s no competition, there’s no one pressuring us to be able not to do it here. But when the third and largest one came out, $200 billion in products, no exclusion process was given for American companies. A ten percent tariff was laid down on these companies. And here’s what that means. If you’re a company that produces a consumer electronic or a lighting or one of the other resources manufactured in China, most of the people you’re selling it to, you made a contract a year or two ago what the price would be. Whether you’re selling to Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, or Best Buy or wherever it may be. You made that deal of how much you’re going to sell that product for and how much you’re going to sell. Now with a ten percent tariff laid down, who pays that tariff? Well it’s certainly not going to be the end user initially because the contract has already been made. It’s not going to be the Chinese manufacturing location. It’s going to be those companies actually doing production here in the United States. The American workers and the American companies pay the brunt of all those.

On using our trade promotion authority to share our values including religious freedom

(Starts at 13:10): It’s a reasonable thing to do as well as an American that we have a high value on religious liberty and human rights. It is part of our trade promotion authority—in fact an area that I worked very hard to get implemented to have as a part of our trade promotion authority—that when we negotiate with countries on trade issues we also deal with the basic issue of human rights and freedom of religion…President Xi has worked toward what they call secularization of religion to try to make everything in the country—of every area—equal and the same, stripping away religious symbols from buildings of all types, stripping away religious practice that is not approved by the government of China. This discrimination has impacted Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Falun Gong practitioners. It’s led to the destruction of houses of worship. It’s led to evictions and demolition of religious educational institution, restrictions and practice of study of faith by people of whatever culture or language, restriction of religious attire, religious rituals, imprisonment of religious leaders and followers.