Freedom Should Not Be Taken Lightly

August 2, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered floor remarks regarding how the American people must stand up for their freedoms.


To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.



You can read the transcript below or in the Congressional Record.


Madam President, I am really on the record opposing

President Biden's decision to abruptly withdraw troops from

Afghanistan, and I oppose it for the same reasons many of the world's

most respected military officials oppose it.

We knew our allies would suffer. The Taliban have burned their way

through Afghanistan and staked a claim on much of the territory that we

have now abandoned. We created a void, and the Taliban walked right on


Last week, we watched as another of our adversaries planted their own

flag in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign

Affairs tweeted this picture from a meeting between Chinese Communist

Party officials and the Taliban. That is correct, Wednesday of last

week. They even went so far as to say they are hopeful that the Taliban

will embrace a peaceful and more inclusive approach to government.

It was a nice piece of performance art from a government recently

accused of genocide. But this is what the CCP does best--fill the void,

throw up a diplomatic facade, and seize as much power as they possibly

can seize as quickly as they can do it.

Back home in Tennessee, we have felt the ripple effects of Beijing's

creeping dominance. You know, when most people think of a foreign

threat, they think of an army or a spy ring, but what we need to

understand is that these threats are much more subtle. If you don't

know what you are looking for, you will end up missing it.

Back in the midnineties, when I was the executive director for the

Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission, we were already

fighting a losing battle against Chinese intellectual property theft.

Now, this might not seem like a matter of national security, but for

the songwriters and producers and creators who fell victim to it, it

was a matter of economic security. This theft made them vulnerable. It

made multiple industries vulnerable in our State, including the auto

industry, auto parts, aviation, water sports. They all started to feel

the effects of a dishonest Chinese Communist Party, and therefore, it

made our country's economy vulnerable. The same goes for those playing

whack-a-mole with the pirates and counterfeiters selling stolen or

outright fake merchandise.

It is a serious vulnerability. Sometimes those vulnerabilities are

more obvious, however. For example, when the novel coronavirus sent us

into lockdown, we were finally able to draw attention to how much

control Beijing has over healthcare in America. They have a

stranglehold on our supply chains for active pharmaceutical ingredients

and medical supplies.

I introduced the SAM-C Act last year with Senator Menendez. That

legislation would protect those supply chains and bring production back

to the United States. This threat didn't spontaneously evolve; it is

the result of 100 seemingly small vulnerabilities that our adversaries

in Beijing had found a way to exploit. How did it happen? Well, it has

a lot to do with their slow takeover of international organizations--

namely, the United Nations.

Since 1971, the Chinese Communist Party has exploited hopes that

membership in the U.N. would force them to behave like a normal

country, but the reality of the situation is that Chinese diplomats

control 4 out of 15 specialized U.N. agencies and many other subsidiary

offices. Even more importantly, the CCP is flooding the U.N. with lower

level staff, which means they have strength in numbers that we do not

have. They have seized far too much power for comfort.

Since 2007, Chinese diplomats have led the U.N. Department of

Economic and Social Affairs, which means they have also controlled the

direction of the U.N.'s development programs.

By 2015, they had gained enough influence to make development

synonymous with Belt and Road Initiative projects, which, as we all

know, are debt trap schemes for Beijing's leveraging against struggling

nations. This is a debt trap scheme.

In 2014, China placed a diplomat at the top of the International

Telecommunication Union. Since then, the ITU has more or less been

Beijing's mouthpiece. They promote Chinese companies, Chinese telecom

standards, and, of course, support Beijing's attempts to monopolize

communications infrastructure in countries stuck in debt traps. It is

all connected.

Since their admission to the U.N., the CCP has practically achieved

immunity from accountability for human rights violations. The NGO China

has used for years to whitewash their barbaric treatment of Tibetans is

now a U.N.-accredited organization.

In 2018, when the United States withdrew from UNESCO, who was waiting

in the wings to become the largest financial contributor to global

education? You are right. It was China. They have used their

stranglehold on the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to

officially silence the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang. They used their

status as members of the Human Rights Council as cover for horrendous

human rights violations in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong,

and on the Mainland.

In 2019, we confirmed whistleblower testimony that revealed the

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sent the names of

activists critical of the Chinese Communist Party straight to Beijing.

And last year, we watched the World Health Organization praise

Beijing for lying to the world about the severity of the disease that

would eventually cause a deadly global pandemic.

We are in damage control mode. By the end of 2021, the U.N. will hold

nine elections for heads of specialized agencies and five for major

funds or programs. We control exactly none of these positions.

Our task is twofold. First, we must fill these voids. We don't have a

choice. But we must also inject accountability by holding ourselves

accountable for the integrity of our own relations with the U.N. and

foreign countries.

Last week, I introduced the U.N. Transparency and Accountability Act,

which will strengthen America's influence as a key U.N. member nation

and expose the threat adversarial countries pose to international


My colleague, Congressman Michael McCaul, from Texas has companion

legislation ready to go in the House, and there is no sane reason why

we shouldn't see these bills come up for a vote sooner rather than


We are going to find out exactly who these bad actors are. We are

going to flood the U.N. with Americans to stop them. And we are going

to account for every single penny we contribute to U.N. projects. And

then we are going to make the reports on all that spending available to

the American taxpayer who is footing the bill. No more hiding.

The bottom line is that we can't win this war without brute force.

There is no weapon that can neatly cut the strings Beijing is pulling.

Ceding freedom has consequences. The ripple effect created in Geneva

and Brussels and New York and Washington can and will destroy the lives

of people half a world away.

As effective as diplomacy can be, we are alone in this one. We are

responsible for safeguarding our freedom.

As President Reagan once said, Freedom is always one generation away

from extinction. ``It has to be fought for and defended by each

generation.'' There is no kicking the can down the road. Once it is

gone, it is gone. There is no better voice for human rights than the

United States. And if we do not speak up, we give every other nation on

the planet an excuse to stay silent also.

No one will come to our rescue if our supply chains are compromised.

No one will come to the rescue of Tennessee innovators and companies if

their supply lines are compromised by the Communist Chinese. And no one

else is going to make sure our children and grandchildren don't fall

into one of Beijing's debt traps.

Perhaps we should keep that in mind this week as we take up all

2,700-plus pages of the infrastructure package. If ever there was a

time for restraint,

this is it. The threat is staring us in the face, and I fear that my

Democratic colleagues are missing the threat.

I yield the floor.