National Security & Defense

Congress Must Act Now to Counter Chinese Propaganda in the U.S.

The Chinese national flag in Beijing, China, April 29, 2020 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
This week, we’re introducing legislation to do just that.

In March, as we learned of COVID-19’s lethality and the global community’s inability to contain it, more and more leaders expressed outrage at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Where did the virus come from? How long had the CCP known about it? Could China have contained it earlier? Why didn’t the Chinese government follow international protocols and allow the WHO or CDC to come study the virus when they requested to do so in January and February?

Rather than admit responsibility for creating a worldwide pandemic, the CCP employed its propaganda assets to launch a disinformation campaign blaming the United States for the virus! This outrageous propaganda suggested that COVID-19 may have escaped from a U.S. military lab, and that our country was somehow responsible for the fallout. As it spread on Twitter and in the news media, many Americans were directly confronted with the product of the United Front Work Department, the shadowy wing of the Chinese Communist Party that controls a complicated network of front groups active right here in our own cities.

The United Front openly admits to a mission of Leninist-style “political warfare” meant to lead communism to victory and bring down the United States and any other country supporting the ideals of constitutional self-government and democracy. From Hollywood to New York to Washington, D.C., to university campuses across the U.S., its front groups work together on strategic campaigns of Communist subversion, disinformation, and espionage, to take advantage of our open society and chip away at its foundation.

Mao Zedong infamously referred to the United Front as the “magic weapon” that would rejuvenate China, “mobilize the party’s friends and strike at the party’s enemies,” and ultimately achieve a Communist utopia. Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said of the United Front: “The main thing is to bring together all the friends we can. Only after that do we seek to splinter our enemies.” Recently, President Xi Jinping has vastly increased China’s investment in the party organization, allowing it to hire tens of thousands of new members to ramp up its political warfare and help increase China’s military and economic power.

That effort has been very effective here in the U.S. The United Front has changed our education system through groups such as Confucius Institutes, affected what we see on social media through Chinese propaganda accounts, and even paid for stories that appear in our newspapers. It influences discussions in corporate board rooms, professional-sports locker rooms, and the filmmaking industry. It’s even working on publishing a new edition of the Bible with “socialist characteristics.”

For too long, the CCP was able to do all this completely unchecked. Despite the United Front’s candid admissions of its goals, most policymakers in America seemed unaware or unconcerned, until President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and other administration officials began to expose the serious threat the group posed.

There is a growing consensus now that we must put a stop to this sinister activity, and we at the Republican Study Committee are today presenting a plan to fight back. Although much of what the United Front is engaged in here is not unlawful per se, we are introducing the Countering Chinese Propaganda Act this week to impose sanctions and create hurdles that will prevent United Front operatives and agents from accessing America’s financial system, obtaining visas to travel to the U.S., and illegally interfering in our elections.

We urge all our colleagues in Congress to prioritize the passage of this bill in a bipartisan manner. If anything can bring us together, it should be a mutual desire and obligation to safeguard our nation and its institutions. With just weeks to go before our fateful federal elections, we have a responsibility to act now with our own united front. The American people deserve nothing less.

— Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the chairman of the Republican Study Committee’s Budget and Spending Task Force. Representative Mike Johnson (R., La.) is the chairman of the RSC. Representative Joe Wilson (R., S.C.) is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the chairman of the RSC Foreign Affairs and National Security Task Force.

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