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
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
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.