by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A group of Republican lawmakers is pushing to hold China accountable for a propaganda campaign they say was conceived to obfuscate the country’s responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus.
Leading the charge in the House are longtime China hawk Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.), who have introduced resolutions aimed at holding Beijing to account.
The lawmakers say their goal is not to assign blame for the pandemic, but to push policies that carry practical benefits for American workers. They argue that America’s crisis response has been hampered by the country’s dependence on Chinese supply chains, as Beijing seized masks made by U.S. manufacturers operating in China to shore up its own supply of protective equipment. Stefanik is teaming up with Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), one of four Republican senators to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening America’s medical supply chain.
Banks, Stefanik, and Hawley have emerged as leading China hawks in Congress, joining the likes of Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), Ted Cruz (R., Tex.), and Rick Scott (R., Fla.).
The trio reflects the rise of young, energetic lawmakers among GOP ranks. All three were teenagers when U.S. policymakers normalized trade relations with China in 2000 and are bringing fresh scrutiny to U.S. relationship with Beijing. The lawmakers themselves say it’s part of a “generational challenge” they are trying to raise an alarm about.
And while Capitol Hill is legendary for the number of geriatrics roaming its halls, the GOP China hawks are largely a part of the party’s younger generation.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States faced a troubled relationship with China. Walter Lohman of the Heritage Foundation discussed the issue with Carolina Journal Radio.