E&C Republicans Zero in on China in First Week of Hearings
It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to replace the U.S. as a global economic and technological power. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans previewed their plans to strengthen American resolve against the CCP and ensure America, not China, wins the future.
Last week, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) announced that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify on March 23, 2023, before the committee on the platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices, its harm to kids, and its ties to the CCP.
AMERICA’S DANGEROUS ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON CHINA
During a full committee hearing last week, Republicans raised concerns about how President Biden is making America dangerously dependent on adversaries like China for our energy.
“Every energy technology and source has a role to play but we need to be able to ensure that we are not becoming entirely dependent on unreliable, intermittent energy sources that rely on Chinese supply chains,” Chair Rodgers said. “It’s time to flip the switch and unleash American energy and this committee is at the very center of securing our global leadership and making people's lives better.”
“There’s no doubt that China is adding wind and solar and other renewables to their energy matrix,” Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, & Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said. “They’re also building a heck of a lot of coal fired power plants, fossil fuel generation, mining rare Earth minerals that they need for all the technology, which is very detrimental to the environment.”
“If we want viable, sustainable energy solutions that make all Americans secure, that appreciates the diversity of our landscapes, and doesn’t rely on premature, aspirational technologies or the availability of mineral supplies from foreign countries being available; then it’s time to turn the page on the current, national energy strategy, or lack thereof. Particularly since it’s one that makes us more dependent on nations that hate us,” Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) said. “To illustrate the point, I ask my colleagues to consider a recent article in the Washington Post. It suggested senior U.S. military officials are predicting, and preparing for, war within one to five years with China—the very country we depend on for the critical minerals required for many of the ‘rush to green’ solutions.”
“China is striving to secure oil, gas, and critical minerals supply around the world while defending its dominance of renewable energy supply chains,” Robert McNally, the President of Rapidan Energy Group, LLC, testified to the Committee.
BOOSTING AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS TO BEAT CHINA
At an Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, members and witnesses discussed how America can compete against China and win the future.
“Today’s hearing focuses on the greatest threat to our country right now—China. So, it is fitting that to begin the 118th Congress we focus on this threat and discuss how to recapture and maintain our global leadership. The CCP will stop at nothing to undermine our global leadership and weaken our economy,” Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis (R-FL) said. “They have bought up our farmlands, stolen our intellectual property, and embedded themselves deep within many of our supply chains. Now they are turning their attention towards establishing the global standards for emerging technologies. The CCP has invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Paired with this investment, China is creating favorable environments for their private sector companies and entrepreneurs to deploy and test these technologies.”
“In 2020, the China Task Force found that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ‘has a record of using official government resources and companies with CCP affiliations to compromise the data of people around the world’ and that the United States and its allies need to join the ‘effort to secure data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities.’ These concerns are especially prevalent in China itself, where advanced technology is used to track and monitor their citizens with few protections,” Brandon Pugh, Policy Director and Resident Senior Fellow of the R Street Institute, told the Subcommittee. “Similar concerns are echoed by federal government leaders like Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, who previously said ‘if you are an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data.’ He made even more pointed comments recently, saying that ‘China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined.’”
CHINA'S DANGEROUS STONEWALLING
During an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, Republican members noted how China has put the world in danger of future outbreaks because of that country’s refusal to cooperate with investigations into the origins of COVID-19.
“Existing pandemic preparedness plans have mentioned the need for investigating the origins of pandemics but have neither spelled out the challenges nor the specifics for how to conduct an effective probe,” Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said. “One of the challenges laid out in the (GAO) report is the need for investigators to have more access to samples from early cases in order to be effective in determining the pandemic’s origin. We must address this issue since some government organizations, including the Government of the Chinese Communist Party, have a history of withholding this type of information.”
BEATING CHINA IN NEXT-GEN TECHNOLOGY
Members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee examined how China is seeking to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology.
“We must also ensure continued American leadership in advanced communications services. In order to do that, our regulations must foster an environment of innovation and certainty,” Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) said. “As countries like China seek to dominate the technologies of the future, we must make the United States an attractive place to invest in cutting edge developments that align with American values and guarantee the availability of trusted satellite communications.
“Countries like China seek to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology. We can’t afford to let this happen,” Chair Rodgers said. “The Chinese Communist Party will do whatever it takes to embed their authoritarianism into next generation technologies like these. This is a country that spies on its citizens and asserts strict government control over businesses and the economy. They want to replace the U.S. as the economic and technological power so they can spread their values and vision of the future. We need to make sure these technologies are developed in an ecosystem that promotes America’s values, not China’s.”
“China’s accelerating space prowess and reach presents both economic and national security challenges. China’s expanding space sector creates a competitive alternative in the global marketplace, oftentimes with attractive incentives and financing, that will steadily chip away at the market share enjoyed by U.S. companies,” Kari Bingen, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies said. “As highlighted in a 2021 European market assessment, ‘[W]hile the most advanced commercial space companies clearly remain Western companies, China is now leading the world in terms of number of commercial space companies being established.’ On the national security front, the U.S. military’s battlefield advantage has long rested on our superior technology. But that is at risk as Beijing seeks to close the gap in our technology advantage.”