WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to call attention to the confusion and concern surrounding the Chinese Communist Party.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.
You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.
MRS. BLACKBURN: Mr. President, I have to tell you, when I am back
home, I am struck by one of the things I am hearing in Tennessee, and
it is this odd mix of optimism and also of concern.
And Tennesseans are very concerned that we are not going to pass
another round of COVID relief in time to help save their businesses and
in time to help people who lost their job through no fault of their
own. And, on the other hand, they are excited about the fact that we
finally have vaccines that are going through the process, that are
getting to communities, and there are vaccinations taking place. And I
have thought, you know, this is really an interesting mix of emotions,
especially with Christmas right around the corner.
And Sunday, after I had visited with some folks, I thought, you know,
this, I think, is where people are going to be for a while. Some are
very optimistic. Some are incredibly worried. But there is one thing
that is a constant--and I have really watched this grow over the last
several months. It is the confusion and the anger that is directed at
the Chinese Communist Party. And, quite frankly, this is something that
I fully believe has reached a boiling point with Tennesseans and with
the American public.
Tennesseans were familiar with the tense relationship between China
and the United States well before they found themselves in the middle
of this pandemic. Here is a good example. At this point, most everyone
is familiar with China's notorious disregard for intellectual property
rights, but when I first started working on this issue in the House
with songwriters back in Tennessee--and it was in the early 2000s--we
felt like we were fighting that battle all alone. We had to fight with
Chinese officials and eventually were able to establish some initial
royalty rates payable to U.S. copyright owners whose sound recordings
are broadcast in China. That was a solid win, but the fact that we had
to fight so hard for something so simple really was frustrating, and
people in Tennessee have not forgotten that frustration.
Before this year, they were painfully familiar with the Chinese
Government's abysmal human rights record. That initial footage of
massive protests in Hong Kong had resurrected memories of Tiananmen
Square and reminded everyone that the Chinese Government still uses
political violence, speech suppression, and torture to silence dissent.
The people I talked to had read about diplomatic tensions and trade
deals, and they could sense that in spite of all those optimistic
perspectives on the nightly news, our biggest rival in Asia had become
So they weren't at all shocked when news reports started rolling in
that the Chinese Communist Party officials in Hebei Province and
Beijing had done nothing--not one thing--to stop the spread of the
Since then, Tennesseans and, indeed, most Americans have received a
valuable education, courtesy of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist
Party. We learned that the Chinese Government's failure to sound the
alarm wasn't an anomaly. It was intentional. Neither was there strong-
arming of the World Health Organization or the incarceration and
torture of doctors and journalists who defied gag orders to blast out
warnings to anyone who would listen. They tried to tell us this was
reaching a pandemic, and they were punished.
And as they look around at the economic ruin in their communities, as
small businesses are shuttered and independent music venues are boarded
up for the long haul, all those puzzle pieces are falling into place,
and, quite frankly, they are justifiably upset. I would venture to say
many of them are absolutely furious with what the Chinese Government
By now, we understand this is what the Chinese Communist Party does
as a government, as an all-powerful political organization, and as a
group of rabid ideologues from whom acts of genocide flow as easily as
the propaganda posted to their many official Twitter accounts. This is
all a part of their quest for global dominance, and their success
depends on gaining complete control over speech, thought, resources,
and their relationships with other nations.
This is the Chinese Communist Party's master plan.
When Xi Jinping took power in 2012, there were a lot of optimistic
pundits out there who thought that he would embrace transparency and
liberal economic policies, but oh my goodness, have they ever been
wrong. In fact, he styled himself in the image of Mao, creating a
personality cult that equates attacks on Xi with challenges to the
legitimacy of party rule. It is all about him.
Anyone who has opened a history book knows this doesn't bode well for
diplomatic efforts to rebalance power. This isn't my political opinion;
this is the reality that diplomats, members of the defense community,
and policy experts accept as a matter of fact. The Senate Armed
Services Committee accepted this reality when we drafted the bipartisan
2021 NDAA. This year's bill contains the most substantial action we
have ever taken to counter Chinese aggression and great power
competition. It establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which
will help the military enhance defense capabilities in the region and
reaffirms our commitments to Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Japan, and other
allies and partners geographically near China.
We drafted numerous provisions to keep U.S. intellectual property,
technology, and data out of Beijing's grasp by limiting funding for
universities that host Confucius Institutes and restricting defense
industrial base employees from working for Chinese-owned companies. Why
did we do this? Because we have learned that not only is this part of
China's propaganda, this is where they are embedding their spies.
In 2021, we will take major steps to secure our supply chain and
invest in American innovation to maintain our technological advantage.
We paid particular attention to accelerating the development of 5G
networks that are needed by our troops in the field and, to complement
that expansion, enhancing our Nation's cyber security strategy.
The Chinese Communist Party isn't just playing politics on Twitter;
their tactics pose a very real threat to our Nation's security and that
of our allies and our partners.
I have spoken at length about how badly we need to unravel our
relationship with China. I have examined problems related to our
medical supply chains, security issues in the building blocks of
popular technology, and sourcing for rare earth elements. Reclaiming
these critical resources will take time and investment, but it can be
done, and I will continue to fight for this as we move into the next
Congress. But I want to consider just for a moment a few examples of
this entanglement that hit particularly close to home and really give a
sense of how much private companies and organizations compromise just
to maintain access to the Chinese marketplace.
Earlier this year, the PR professionals at the NBA worked some
serious overtime after an investigative report published by ESPN showed
that the Chinese Communist Party-affiliated coaches at the league's
training facilities in Xinjiang were abusing players. That is correct--
abusing players. Initial reports of this abuse were ignored by NBA
Keep in mind that these training facilities existed in the same
region as those concentration camps used to imprison the Uighur Muslims
and others guilty of thought crimes against the Chinese Communist Party. So what was the NBA doing there in the first place? How could something like this actually happen? Here is the
reason: Communist China plays host to an estimated $4 billion NBA
market. They say that China is ``basketball obsessed,'' and NBA execs
have used every avenue they can to take advantage of that $4 billion
market. They jealously protect those relationships even if it means
using skyrocketing sales numbers to explain away the blind eye they
have turned to the CCP's crimes against humanity.
They are not alone. This fall, Walt Disney released their live-action
version of ``Mulan'' and caught some well-deserved hell after sharp-
eyed rights activists combed through the credits and discovered that
filmmakers chose to shoot scenes for the movie--where? Xinjiang,
knowing that they would have to cooperate--with whom? The Chinese
Communist Party's propaganda flacks to get the kind of footage they
wanted to play to their desired Chinese audience.
Netflix also ran afoul of human rights activists when they inked an
adaptation deal with an author who parrots Chinese Communist Party
propaganda and made racist comments about the persecuted Uighur Muslims
None--none of these scenarios involved high-stakes diplomatic
negotiations. No one involved was on a mission to balance the
geopolitical scales at all cost. They did, however, stand to net a tidy
profit by maintaining friendly relations with the Chinese Communist
Party. But did they ever stand up and defend the Uighur Muslim
minority? No, they did not.
When faced with such manipulation on a global scale, Tennesseans
expect accountability. They want news reports and hearings and absolute
condemnation. But that is not what they get. Instead, they get
regurgitated propaganda transmitted directly from the CCP, peppered
with media buzz words and distilled into sound bites.
Our attempts to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for
covering up the origins of the pandemic were met with baseless
accusations of xenophobia and of racism. I have met similar resistance
when speaking truth to power about the CCP's aggression in Tibet,
Mongolia, the concentration camps in Xinjiang, and the arbitrary
detention of the Hong Kong freedom fighters. Prominent members of the
press, pundits, and even Members of Congress who have access to more
than enough information to know better--all provide cover for the
Chinese Communist Party at the expense of American lives and
livelihoods. It is all there in black and white. They are failing an
open-book test because they are refusing--refusing to admit that their
coziness with China does not serve the American people or our allies
This situation will not evaporate with the start of the new Congress.
Vaccines and defense funding and new technology will solve some
immediate problems, but they are not a strategy. Those are action
We must all commit right now to an aggressive strategy that leads a
whole-of-government approach to protecting American intellectual
property, securing our critical supply chains, and bringing our
manufacturing back home.
We must assert our role as a leader on the global stage and stand
between the Chinese Government and leadership roles in international
organizations. How is it that China could have a seat on the Human
Rights Council of the United Nations? Look at what they are doing to
the Tibetans, to the Taiwanese, to the Hong Kong freedom fighters, and
to the Uighur Muslims.
We should continue to provide support for Hong Kong and for Taiwan,
build a strong network of allies and partners across the Indo-Pacific,
and we should increase our defense investment in the Indo-Pacific
I laid out more items in a white paper I released earlier this year.
It is online at Blackburn.Senate.gov. It is time to pay attention to
everything the CCP is doing.
In today's New York Post, I have an op-ed that lays out how they are
using Twitter to troll and intimidate the rest of the world into
staying silent. Do you know what? They are, unfortunately, having some
success with that. World leaders, powerful corporations, and
celebrities are all scared into silence by online propaganda campaigns.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a copy of my op-ed be
printed in the Record with these remarks. If they can do that with a hashtag--all of that
suppression, all of that intimidation--then think about what they will
do in the real world.
If we stand down, the Chinese Government is going to keep pushing to
stand up. They will fill a power vacuum because their determination is
to be the leader, the global dominator. They want the 21st century to
be the China century. It is their strategy. It is what they do. So now
is the time to act. I would encourage my colleagues to remember this as
we begin a new Congress. I yield the floor.