By Rep. Dusty Johnson
People like to compare the U.S. and China, so much so I think many people have forgotten a key point – our values are not the same, not even close. Large economies, yes, but China is a communist, authoritarian nation with a state-run media and a government obsessed with surveillance and control.
China’s handling of this worldwide pandemic has brought these differences to the forefront once again. For weeks, China covered up the COVID-19 outbreak and continued to allow travel from Wuhan to other parts of the world. China kicked out foreign journalists and they hid valuable information from the rest of the world. These actions will be a blood-red stain on China’s reputation for generations to come.
For years, the United States and China have developed an increasingly interdependent economic relationship, and it’s put us in a position where we excuse and accept their behavior out of convenience. It’s time for change.
Republicans in the House have established a task force aimed at combating threats posed by China. This is a good starting point, but now – more than ever – we need actions, not political theater or words without consequences.
While we still need a comprehensive investigation on the spread of the coronavirus from China, as leaders, we must be forward thinking. How does the U.S. ensure we are never in the same position again? How does the U.S. better prepare for future pandemics? How does the U.S. stockpile and develop an industrial base for supplies moving forward?
The U.S. is in an unstable relationship with China – every time they tell us they will change their ways, we see the same irresponsible behavior. This pandemic has exposed flaws in our supply chain, both domestic and abroad. More than 72% of active pharmaceutical ingredients are manufactured abroad.
Government should stay out of the business of private enterprise. At the same time, our nation’s leaders have an obligation to protect the American people. These values are in tension with each other. With that said, I find it unwise to watch a majority of our pharmaceuticals, processing plants and personal protective equipment become increasingly dependent on a good-standing relationship with China.
America needs to do better. We need to rely on companies here at home, like 3M, to produce our PPE stockpile. We need to ensure bad actors aren’t investing in our food supply chain. That’s why I signed onto the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act to allow USDA to analyze any foreign investment into our nation’s food supply. COVID-19 has reminded America that our food security and our ability to quickly produce supplies are vital.
Most of all, we need to hold China accountable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to make sure this accountability happens.