WASHINGTON—A new House committee holds its first hearing Tuesday evening to draw attention to China’s policies on human rights, business and military power that the panel says pose a challenge to U.S. interests and values.
“We may call this a ‘strategic competition,’” Rep.
(R., Wis.) chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, is expected to say, according to prepared remarks. “But this is not a polite tennis match. This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century, and the most fundamental freedoms are at stake.”
Unusual for congressional hearings, Tuesday’s session is being held in the evening, starting at 7 p.m. EST, when more Americans may be able to tune in. A video will be screened scrutinizing the Communist Party’s hard-line rule and cataloging a history of repression, from the radical political campaigns under Mao to the mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic groups in the past few years.
The hearing can be watched on the committee’s website, YouTube and C-Span. ABC is expected to pick up some of the hearing and other TV platforms may as well, according to committee staff.
Given that Washington’s political and national security establishments have largely settled on a hawkish view of China, the committee is being touted as a venue for bipartisan agreement in a divided Congress. Beijing has criticized the hardening view on China in Washington as a product of Cold War thinking.
Mr. Gallagher and the top committee Democrat Rep.
of Illinois are pledging to overcome divisions, though they recognize that might not extend to every issue. Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for not taking a harder line with Beijing.
Political unity is especially needed because the Chinese leadership believes the divisions in America “prevent us from making progress,” said Mr. Krishnamoorthi.
Chinese diplomats have raised concerns with U.S. officials about the committee, worrying that its spotlight on China will generate negative headlines, adding to tensions between the governments.
U.S.-China relations, strained in recent years over Taiwan, technology, human rights and a global rivalry for influence, have plummeted in recent weeks over a suspected Chinese spy balloon, China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine and fresh U.S. assessments that Covid-19 may have leaked from a Chinese laboratory.
Secretary of State
on a visit to Kazakhstan, warned Tuesday that the U.S. is prepared to impose sanctions on Chinese companies or individuals if Beijing delivers lethal assistance to Russia. Beijing hasn’t done so yet, U.S. officials have said, though it has sent computer chips, jet parts and other goods that have commercial as well as military uses.
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“We will not hesitate,” Mr. Blinken said, “to target Chinese companies or officials that violate our sanctions or otherwise engage in Russia’s war effort.”
China’s more assertive foreign policy and rising military strength, pushed by Chinese leader
have made the country a focus of concern across much of the U.S. government. The Biden administration has singled out China, with its vast economy, as the only competitor capable of mounting a challenge to the U.S. and the world order.
Aside from the select committee, many other committees have China-related issues on their agenda. On Tuesday, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee pressed administration officials over a range of China policies, from Chinese influence operations in the U.S. to export controls on technology and whether the administration will limit American investment in China as some members want.
The Biden administration has been working on an executive order regulating U.S. investments into China and other countries of concern for months, though progress on the order has been slow as officials have debated its scope.
People familiar with the Biden administration’s deliberations said they expect the eventual order to prohibit U.S. private equity and venture-capital investments in a few Chinese technology sectors. Quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced semiconductors are sectors that have been discussed, some of the people familiar with the deliberations said.
The new select committee doesn’t have the authority to draft legislation, though it does have the power to investigate and issue subpoenas. Like the Jan. 6 select committee in the previous Congress that investigated the 2021 attack on the Capitol, the China panel aims to build a narrative in a way that is accessible to the public.
Witnesses for Tuesday’s hearing were selected to highlight different aspects of the China challenge.
former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, will discuss the overall threat. His former boss, H.R. McMaster, is to address the military dimension. Longtime democratic activist Tong Yi will focus on human rights while
with the Alliance for American Manufacturing is to offer a business perspective.
Craig Singleton, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, said the committee is playing an instructive role.
The “hearing seeks to set the table for the American public about the specific threats China poses as a global competitor and why that competition will impact on their daily lives, whether they realize it yet or not,” said Mr. Singleton.
Equally important, he said, the committee needs to bolster respect for American values, particularly diversity, and ensure that in spotlighting the China threat it doesn’t fuel racism against Asian Americans.
To that end, Mr. Gallagher, along with two other members of the committee, Florida Republican Rep. Neal Dunn and New York Democrat
met Chinese democracy activists in New York on Saturday. Speaking at a protest rally, Mr. Gallagher criticized what he called China’s “transnational repression.”
Messrs. Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi on Monday attended a roundtable in Washington where they heard Chinese dissidents and Uyghurs, a mainly Muslim group whose members have been subject to mass incarceration, discuss torture and repression from China’s authorities.
These events, in part, are aimed at showing that Beijing’s repressive policies have a wide reach, affecting not just Chinese nationals but Chinese Americans as well, Mr. Gallagher said.
“By leading with human rights in these events we can alleviate what concerns linger on the Democrat side about this committee being used as a platform for anti-Asian rhetoric and hatred,” Mr. Gallagher said.
Beyond acting as a megaphone to raise awareness, the committee aims to work with other House committees to advance legislation.
Near-term, Mr. Gallagher said, one objective is working to clear a backlog of weapons sales to Taiwan, the democratic island under military pressure from Beijing. Mr. Gallagher, a Middle East specialist and former Marine who was elected to office in 2016, spent four days in Taiwan recently meeting with top government officials, including those with national security roles, as part of his preparation to lead the committee.
Over the course of its two-year term, the committee also aims to help develop a blueprint for selective economic decoupling from China, he said.
James T. Areddy, Vivian Salama and Andrew Duehren contributed to this article.
Write to Charles Hutzler at email@example.com
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