Chinese aggression demands American resolve

Published 12:45 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

BY SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN
Each January brings with it a fresh start; but lately, great expectations for the year ahead have come tinged with uncertainty. In 2020, we had more questions than answers about a mysterious illness spreading rapidly from China. In 2021, we adjusted to a drastic shift in political leadership; and now, 2022 has brought with it a shift in global power dynamics. China has wasted no time levying new economic pressures against Europe and leaning further into their cooperation with adversaries of the U.S. As the year goes on, what else will Beijing’s resolve mean for America and our partners abroad?
The answer, of course, is “nothing good.” Beijing’s approach to growing China’s power has long run afoul of the most basic standards of human rights, and the Chinese Communist Party works overtime trying to hide their crimes from the rest of the world. Last year, the U.S. State Department officially declared the Chinese government’s systematic repression of Uyghur Muslims a genocide after years of whistleblower investigations exposed the CCP’s use of internment camps, cultural erasure, and forced sterilization campaigns to repress ethnic minorities.
Censorship is also a favorite tactic of the CCP. The government exerts near-absolute control over speech, swiftly silencing critics of President Xi Jinping and quashing dissent with brutal efficiency even outside the mainland. Under the government’s new National Security Law, the CCP can silence any speech opposing the Chinese government — as demonstrated in Hong Kong.
The Chinese Communist Party’s demand for power doesn’t stop at China’s borders. Following the adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” China quickly cozied up to the U.S.’s most high-profile adversaries. Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have grown even closer, overseeing joint military exercises and, more recently, coordinating an op-ed between ambassadors to criticize President Biden.
This month, Beijing took a major step in solidifying its presence abroad when it released the Digital Yuan on app stores. While this might seem harmless, we know that China is already using digital payment systems to surveil, threaten, and arrest Chinese citizens. At the 2022 Beijing Olympics, Digital Yuan technology embedded in athletes’ gloves and uniforms will give the CCP intimate access to competitors’ financial habits and the ability to lock dissenters’ digital wallets.
Ultimately, the time has come for the White House to accept that, at its core, China is not a country willing to abide by global norms. Beijing doesn’t follow the rules, and we cannot continue to behave as though they will. On Capitol Hill, I’ve led efforts to condemn the CCP’s genocide, give voice to silenced dissenters, challenge China’s military expansion, and raise the alarm over the 2022 Beijing Olympics, but Joe Biden and his allies in Congress have yet to establish a plan to counter China. Until they do, the CCP will continue to exploit their hesitancy.
The new year brings with it a worrisome shift in global power but also creates an opportunity for American leaders to strengthen their resolve. On Capitol Hill, I look forward to continuing my work challenging Beijing’s quest for power. There is no excuse for the White House not to do the same.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate)