While the world has been rightly focused on containing the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken the opportunity to become increasingly belligerent on the international stage.

In just a few short months, the CCP has voided Hong Kong’s autonomy guaranteed by an international treaty, expanded its internment of Uyghurs Muslims in western China, and engaged in an aggressive campaign to sow false information in response to the legitimate criticism the CCP has received for its role in the COVID-19 pandemic. China's communist leadership is actively working to impose its interests on the world, and with each passing month, it becomes an increasingly serious and grave threat to democratic societies everywhere. They must be stopped, and we must be the ones to lead it.

Although these activities have significantly increased in recent months, they are not new. For decades, the CCP has made strategic moves to strengthen its foothold on the international stage and consolidate domestic power. We now know the extent to which the CCP conducted a sweeping program of espionage and cyber theft to steal intellectual property and research developed at American universities and national labs funded by U.S. taxpayers. The CCP has similarly stolen trade secrets, and encouraged state-owned businesses to do so, profiting from the successes of American companies by any means possible. These activities have impacted Idaho companies, as well, evidenced by the now well-known and well-documented incident whereby spies for a Chinese state-owned company stole memory chip technology developed by Micron Technologies, patented it, then brazenly sued Micron for patent infringement in Chinese courts.

The CCP has also clearly demonstrated its insistence on stamping out any dissent that threatens to undermine its political agenda. We witnessed this during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Chinese government silenced those who raised the alarm about the real and devastating effects of the emerging coronavirus. The CCP intentionally misled international organizations like the World Health Organization about what was known and suspected about the virus, while jailing reporters and outspoken Chinese citizens to stem the flow of critical and life-saving information.

China is the single most significant threat facing the United States, and we must act swiftly to protect our sovereignty and push back against China’s increasingly dangerous conduct. Last month, I proposed the first comprehensive bill to put us on a stronger path to compete with China. The STRATEGIC Act will introduce tough new measures aimed at leveling the playing field to safeguard American interests and strengthen and sustain U.S. leadership for decades to come. Additionally this year, I have sponsored bipartisan legislation to crack down on the CCP’s efforts to steal American taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property, and bipartisan bills to counter China’s attempts to control the global supply chains for critical minerals and semiconductors, which are central to U.S. national security.

As Idahoans and Americans, we must continue to prioritize our core values of liberty and freedom and promote the free market system that helped the United States and the rest of the world develop and prosper. The CCP’s decisions and actions affect not only Idahoans, but all U.S. citizens, and pose a real threat to safety, security and freedom within our own borders. I will continue to protect Idaho’s people, businesses, universities, and laboratories from the aggressive pursuits of the Chinese Communist Party, and will keep working to ensure that America is positioned to defend against an increasingly hostile and authoritarian China in the decades to come.

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U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. To learn more about his legislation to compete with China, the STRATEGIC Act, visit www.risch.senate.gov.

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