Senator Blackburn Calls Out China’s Actions

December 17, 2020

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

our adversary.

  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

novel coronavirus.

  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

has done.

  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

in Xinjiang.

  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 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.