U.S. House lawmakers hear testimony about rising power of Chinese Communist Party

A protester waving a sign interrupts the testimony of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) during a meeting of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. At the Tueeday meeting, U.S. lawmakers heard expert testimony about the rising power of China's political party and a need for the United States to confront it. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
1 of 6 | A protester waving a sign interrupts the testimony of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster (L) during a meeting of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. At the Tueeday meeting, U.S. lawmakers heard expert testimony about the rising power of China's political party and a need for the United States to confront it. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A U.S. House select committee analyzing China's threat to the United States heard testimony Tuesday about the increasing power of the Chinese Communist Party.

At an evening meeting of the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party in Washington, a former high-profile Trump administration official, a rights advocate, business leaders, and others spoke about Beijing's political apparatus and how the United States needs to confront it even though the party does not play fairly by the dictates of international diplomacy.


During his opening statements Tuesday, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, ranking member of the House Select China Competition Committee, said the United States does not want a cold war or hot war with the People's Republic of China.

Krishnamoorthi said the United States must invest in technology and manufacturing, deter the aggression of the Chinese Communist Party -- particularly in regard to Taiwan -- and strengthen coalitions to counter the threat of the CCP.


Witnesses appearing before the committee included Matthew Pottinger, chairman of FDD China Program and Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing; and human-rights activist Tong Yi.

Also testifying for lawmakers was H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser during the Trump administration, who testified on the security threat posed by China in general and by the Chinese Communist Party specifically.

McMaster said the work of the committee is crucial now more than ever, observing that the United States has fallen behind on technology and finance fronts in confronting China, while holding onto an "assumption" that China would "play by the rules" as a member of the World Trade Organization. McMaster urged the United States to catch up with the competitive moves being made by the CCP.

While McMaster gave his opening testimony, a protester stood up behind him holding a sign that read "China is not our enemy." She exclaimed, "We need cooperation, not competition" while she was escorted out by security. After she was removed, another protester stood holding a sign -- upside down at first -- that read "Stop Asian hate." He was escorted out by security, too, while saying something unintelligible on video.


Committee member and California Rep. Ro Khanna later used his time to say he hoped the protesters were not arrested for speaking their minds. Committee chair Rep. Mike Gallagher then remarked that he would not be pressing charges and did not expect other lawmakers to press charges for the disruption either.

Human rights activist Yi followed McMaster's testimony by sharing her story as a Chinese immigrant and American citizen. She said U.S. policies dating back to the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton have emboldened the CCP, worsen injustices in China, and put the United States behind in trade.

"In the U.S., we need to face the fact that we have helped feed the baby dragon of the Chinese Communist Party to grow into what it is," Tong said. "U.S. companies exploit cheap labor in China that has enriched the CCP. Wall Street, through its passive investment portfolios, transfers billions from retirement accounts to the CCP. It didn't have to be this way. We are now seeing the consequences of these policies."

American manufacturing advocate Paul expanded on Tong's message. He said China's economic policies "represent a clear and present danger" to the United States. According to Paul, U.S. companies have increased investments in China to the tune of $1.3 trillion since 2000.


"Cheating is a core tenet of the Chinese Communist Party's ambition," he said. "The Chinese Communist Party demands the complicity of the global business community operating in China, and these firms have conformed. Its goal is to dominate key industries, set global standards, seek opportunities from crises, and weaken competitors."

Paul added, "No business is untainted."

Pottinger, a former deputy of national security, was asked to explain the intelligence community's concerns about the TikTok app. At the top of list, he said, is the threat it poses to data and privacy, but Pottinger said there is also a concern about China's ability to influence TikTok users by controlling what they see and do not see.

"The bigger coup for the CCP if TikTok is permitted to continue operating in the U.S. is that it gives the CCP the ability to manipulate our social discourse, the news -- censor and suppress and amplify what tens of millions of Americans see and read and hear," he said.

The select committee meeting on the Chinese Communist Party was just one of several similar panels that were meeting on Tuesday and that come amid rising tensions between the world's two biggest superpowers.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Committee on Science, Space and Technology also was meeting and was expected to address increasing competition with Beijing, as well as China's growing influence on the world stage in new technologies and scientific advances.


That hearing came one day after the White House informed federal agencies that they have 30 days to remove TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, from all government devices amid mounting fears that U.S. secrets may end up in the hands of Chinese Communist Party courtesy of the social-media platform.

Separately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering a series of legislative moves designed to curtail China's technological progress in America, including one bill sponsored by Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, that would allow President Joe Biden to sanction or ban TikTok and other software.

The proposal appears poised to advance and would supplant several similar provisions already in committee in the House and Senate.

McCaul's bill would for the first time expose TikTok and other Chinese entities to federal sanctions if they are found to have engaged in covert activities, including the transfer of "sensitive personal data" from app users throughout the world.

"Currently the courts have questioned the administration's authority to sanction TikTok. My bill empowers the administration to ban TikTok or any software applications that threaten U.S. national security," McCaul said Monday in a statement on the matter.

Also on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning blasted the American TikTok ban when asked about China's stance on the matter at the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.


"How unsure of itself can the world's top superpower be to fear a young people's favorite app like that?" Ning responded. "The U.S. has been over-stretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress foreign companies. We firmly oppose those wrong actions. The US government should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing the companies and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies in the U.S."

Lawmakers from both parties have called out intellectual property theft by China that annually costs American companies hundreds of billions of dollars.

The hearings are being closely watched weeks after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon after the contraption drifted for days across the United States. The audacious breach of U.S. airspace led Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to cancel a planned visit to Beijing the same week, and infuriated lawmakers on Capitol Hill who called on President Joe Biden to take immediate punitive actions against China.

More recently, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Beijing against sending weapons to Russia amid speculation that China was preparing to help its regional partner in the Ukraine war.


"We will watch carefully, we will be vigilant, and we will continue to send a strong message that we believe that sending military aid to Russia at this time, when they are using their weapons to bombard cities, kill civilians and commit atrocities, would be a bad mistake, and China should want no part of it," Sullivan said.

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