It's Time to Examine Our Dependence on China
While Congress has rightfully provided relief for families and businesses affected by a government-induced economic shutdown, now is the time to focus on reopening the economy and getting back to a normal way of life. Our nation has been crippled by this economic downturn; it’s time get serious about reversing the damage set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We must also act on another critical priority: bringing America’s supply chain back home from China. Of the many valuable lessons the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, one that is critical to future U.S. national security interests is ending our reliance on China for critical supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and medicine. Made even clearer by China’s role in perpetuating this pandemic by covering up of key information and data, we cannot remain dependent on them for masks, gloves, and other equipment that our frontline healthcare workers need during global health emergencies.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) negligence led to the worldwide spread of coronavirus. They willfully chose to lie about the origins of the virus, jailed doctors and journalists who sounded the alarm, and spread propaganda in order to downplay the dangers of COVID-19. Not only has the CCP lied, but they also left the rest of the world vulnerable to coronavirus by both hoarding essential medical supplies and exporting counterfeit supplies - including masks - across the globe.
To make matters worse, the World Health Organization (WHO) has helped circulate these lies – including promoting a false claim that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease. President Trump has appropriately put a hold on U.S. funding for the WHO. As the largest contributor to the WHO, American taxpayers deserve full transparency of how WHO funds are utilized.
Moving forward, putting our faith in a corrupt communist regime for essential supplies we need in times of crisis is unacceptable. That is why I am fully supportive of legislation requiring the PPE used by our medical centers to be produced in the United States, an idea that has picked up increased traction recently. While it is critical for us to continue to have a strong trading partnership with China for important American exports like agricultural commodities, we have manufacturers in Kentucky and the United States who are more than capable of producing the essential equipment needed by our healthcare facilities.
There is a similar need for the United States to lead the way when it comes to medical research and vaccine development. While numerous American companies are making terrific strides in developing a vaccine for COVID-19, China is also active in developing a preventative vaccine. The problem remains that we still rely on China for far too many medicines. In fact, studies show that around 80% of the active ingredients used in our drug supply come from China and India. This scary reality gives a very dangerous regime leverage over us in a critically important arena, creating both a health and national security vulnerability for the United States.
The danger of this situation has become all the more clear recently with reports that China is maliciously hacking into our coronavirus vaccine research. The United States must make it a priority to double down on efforts to lead the world in drug innovation, a pathway that will require both a commitment to our nation’s medical community as well as an increased push to fight the CCP’s encroaching cyberwarfare. Their efforts to steal our intellectual property will be an ongoing battle in the 21st century and is a challenge we must be prepared to meet.
My sincere hope is that Congress can unite behind a bold vision of America leading the world when it comes to manufacturing critical supplies and vaccines. Falling short of that goal would lead to even more dependence on China, a hole that we do not want to dig ourselves further into. For the sake of our economic, medical and global security, now is the time to fully analyze our dependence on China and act decisively to take the development of critical supplies back into our own hands.
Rep. James Comer is a United States Congressman for the 1st Congressional District, which spans from south central Kentucky to the river counties of far western Kentucky. Contact him with any questions or concerns in his Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3115, in the Tompkinsville Office at (270) 487-9509, in the Paducah Office at (270) 408-1865, or schedule an appointment in the Madisonville Office by calling (270) 487-9509.