A Republican-led task force unveiled recommendations Wednesday to crack down on China, following a months-long probe into the Chinese Communist Party over the origins of the coronavirus outbreak and flaws in medical supply chains, among other things.
The task force — which includes 15 House Republicans and was chaired by Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas — was formally launched in May amid the global pandemic, with the GOP hammering China for failing to disclose critical information about the early spread of the virus and urging the U.S. to become less dependent on China for medical supplies.
More broadly, though, Republicans have argued that China’s aggression has gone unchecked for far too long and that it’s time for the United States to change course on its failed engagement strategy.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at a Wednesday news conference that he had been working for nearly eight months to assemble a bipartisan task force to address economic, technological, military and political threats from China. But Democrats ultimately bailed on the initiative the night before it was supposed to be announced, McCarthy said.
President Donald Trump and the GOP — who have made cracking down on China a central campaign theme — have tried to paint Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as soft on China. Democrats, of course, reject the charges and point out that Trump initially touted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response to the coronavirus.
The GOP's report lays out 83 key findings and makes 430 policy recommendations, two-thirds of which are bipartisan, according to McCarthy. Since its inception, the task force has met with 125 people, including policy experts, business leaders, lawmakers and current and former administration officials.
“It is not only the most thorough report on China in the history of the House, it’s bold, achievable, and bipartisan,” McCarthy told reporters. “It doesn’t just lay out the challenges, it lays out the solutions.”
The blueprint calls for securing medical and national security supply chains, striking a bilateral free trade agreement with Taiwan and limiting the Thrift Savings Plan from investing in certain Chinese companies. The report also calls for evaluating whether the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang amount to genocide and providing a safe harbor for Hong Kong refugees.
During a press conference, task force members highlighted the stack of recommendations that already have strong bipartisan support and expressed hope that many of them could actually become law.
“I don’t know of another issue in American politics that united me and Chuck Schumer as closely as countering the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).
McCarthy, when pressed on whether he thought Biden would be willing to implement these recommendations if he wins the White House, said he was concerned that the former vice president wouldn’t be as tough as the Trump administration in standing up to China.
“I would hope Joe Biden would read this report,” McCarthy said. “But that would be a real concern to me of why switching administrations would be wrong.”
McCarthy has also highlighted the China Task Force recommendations in his election-year agenda that was released earlier this month, signaling it would be a top priority for the GOP if they win back the House.