President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday aimed at restricting U.S. investment in certain Chinese high-tech, including artificial intelligence, microelectronics and semiconductors, and quantum information technologies.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., however, thinks “it’s a little late.”
“China has been stealing our technology for decades,” says Green, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “The problem is the high-tech stuff is now fueling their military expansion.”
“So, I know about two years ago, maybe a year and a half ago, there was a robotics company that was bought out of Massachusetts,” Green says. “They didn’t buy it for the robotics. They bought it to get the [artificial intelligence] out of the company, and China’s just been doing this left and right.”
Green joins today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” to further discuss the executive order, a laboratory in California that reportedly has connections to Chinese pharmaceutical firms, and the Chinese-owned app TikTok.
Listen to the podcast or read a lightly edited transcript of today’s interview below:
Samantha Aschieris: Joining today’s episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast” is Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District. Congressman Green is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee as well as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Rep. Mark Green: Yeah, thanks for having me on. Glad to be with you guys.
Aschieris: Yes. Well, it’s so great to see you again. I want to dive right in and talk about some recent moves by the Biden administration.
On Wednesday, President [Joe] Biden signed an executive order that aims to restrict U.S. investment in certain Chinese technology, specifically “semiconductors and microelectronics, quantum information technology, and artificial intelligence.” That’s according to the White House.
First and foremost, what are your thoughts on this executive order?
Green: Well, I think it’s a little late, probably too little a little late. China has been stealing our technology for decades. The problem is the high-tech stuff is now fueling their military expansion.
So I know about two years ago, maybe a year and a half ago, there was a robotics company that was bought out of Massachusetts. They didn’t buy it for the robotics, they bought it to get the [artificial intelligence] out of the company, and China’s just been doing this left and right.
So [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] has not met its intended purpose, and so the executive order is certainly necessary. I probably would’ve gone a lot further, but I’m glad he did at least this.
Aschieris: And you just brought up going a lot further. That was something I wanted to ask, if this executive order does go far enough? And to you, what would that look like in terms of being more aggressive toward China in this regard?
Green: Yeah, we’ve got to look very hard at our cyber technology. That’s a big issue. Obviously, too, their hacking is a big problem, so we’ve got to address that.
But I prefer the [Sen.] Josh Hawley/Mark Green answer to the problem, which is a licensing for any type of technology. It gives us a second set of eyes outside of CFIUS. The process is more, I guess, the issue for me than just saying, “This, that, and that.”
So I want to put another layer of, specifically [the Defense Department], but also State and Commerce [departments] looking at this, and a licensing process would add another layer. And Sen. Hawley and I have a bill, or have had a bill, we’ve actually ran it two sessions now.
Aschieris: And is that in the current session, is that in the 118th Congress?
Green: I need to check and see if we filed it. I know we talked about doing it and it’s been rewritten for this Congress. I don’t know if it’s been dropped in the hopper yet.
Aschieris: OK. Well, we will definitely keep an eye on that.
Something else I wanted to ask you about is related along the same lines. After Russia’s invasion into Ukraine back in February 2022, we saw so many companies announce that they were leaving Russia or scaling back their operations there.
When it comes to China and companies doing business in China or with China, and we think about the country’s aggression toward Taiwan, their role in the COVID-19 pandemic, the fentanyl crisis, horrendous human rights abuses, the threats posed by TikTok, have we seen the same sort of mentality toward doing business with China, in China that we saw after Russia’s invasion into Ukraine?
Green: Yeah, I don’t think so. And it probably has to do more with the interconnectedness of the economies.
But I have a bill, a nearshoring bill, that would compel—with some incentives—businesses to move their manufacturing to Latin America, shorten the supply chains, decrease the dependence on China, and perhaps even decrease some pressure on our southern border by creating opportunity in Latin America.
I also have a bill that would expense a move from China back to the United States all in one year. So clearly, I am very much for reshoring and nearshoring.
The challenge to China right now, I mean, they’re pretty vulnerable. They’re looking at deflation in their economy, which is pretty—I mean, that’s a tough one. Once you hit a deflationary cycle, it’s really bad.
But what that means for America is we’re in an inflation cycle, so people are going to be incentivized to buy from China as prices fall in China. So it just creates a bit of a challenge to us in this nearshoring, but also an opportunity in that China’s vulnerable.
Aschieris: And just speaking of legislation, something that you reintroduced earlier this year was the Bring American Companies Home Act. What’s the latest on this legislation and why is it important? Why is it needed?
Green: Yeah, that’s the bill I mentioned where we would expense a move of any U.S. business manufacturing in China. If they move back, they’re manufacturing to the United States, they could expense that move a 100% in Year One, which is a massive benefit to the company.
Obviously, the purpose is to create jobs here in the U.S. and to decouple from China as much as we possibly can.
Every time we do business over there, they get some tech or proprietary information from us. It’s a part of their requirements. It also creates a data link and fuels their data mining on the American population. So the more we can limit that, the more we can pull businesses home, the better it is for America.
In other China-related news, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported “that the company that allegedly operated an illegal bio lab in California, housing infectious agents, has ties to multiple related Chinese pharmaceutical firms.”
They also reported “that between April and June 2023, officials in Fresno, California, discovered at least 20 potentially infectious agents, such as HIV and malaria, as well as mice genetically engineered to carry COVID-19 at an unlicensed laboratory.”
First and foremost, Congressman Green, what are your thoughts on this?
Green: It’s shocking, isn’t it, to think of these individuals tied to the Chinese Communist Party, because every business in China is tied to the Chinese Communist Party, manufacturing, dealing with potentially epidemic causing substances. The potential for weaponizing is clearly on the forefront of everyone’s mind. So yeah, this is very, very concerning. We have to dig into this.
Aschieris: Yeah, it definitely is. And one other question I had, and just related to this reporting that we’ve been seeing, my question is, what’s the likelihood that a lab similar to this exists in the U.S.? I mean, how do we keep better tabs on something like this?
Green: Well, there’s a couple of things we could do. One, we could stop letting our open border allow 14,000 and, so far this year, almost 15,000 Chinese nationals, some ties to CCP coming into the United States and just released into the country. So that would be a good start.
But we have to know what’s going on in our country and we don’t. China’s buying land. They’re buying land next to military facilities. We have to stop this. It’s time to basically say to China, “Look, if this is going to happen, we’re going to just stop doing business completely.” And where they are right now, they can’t afford that.
So we have the leverage with their economy sliding into deflation and we need to act and stop this.
Aschieris: Just speaking of China buying U.S. land, I also wanted to ask you about that because it feels like we’re getting more and more reporting on this issue. In terms of ways to stop this, is there anything in the works right now that you have or at the congressional level with other lawmakers that we can expect or are being put together behind the scenes?
Green: The real challenge here is federalism. I’m a big believer in federalism, so I would prefer the states handle this themselves, who basically do the restrictions. And Florida, I know, has done that. But when it comes to land next to federal installations, I think perhaps the federal government can act.
And my team has been looking into whether or not legally and constitutionally the federal government can basically demand or say Chinese companies can’t own land next to a military installation, for example, or a critical infrastructure like a nuclear plant. And once we get our legal opinion back on that, we may do something ourselves.
There are plenty of bills already out there that are much more comprehensive, can’t buy any farmland or can’t buy X, Y, or Z. And those, I think, run the risk of violating states’ rights, so I want to be careful with that.
Aschieris: And on the flip side, if someone in the U.S. wanted to go to China and buy land over there, it probably wouldn’t happen. I don’t see that as a real possibility. When we think about this issue, why do you think more and more people are becoming aware of it?
Green: Yeah. I think the Chinese spy balloon really put people over the edge, even Democrats. The moderates were already there from other things that had happened, COVID of course being a big one.
But, I mean, China has continued to act in the way that they are sort of propagating their foreign policy, and that’s everyday people get smarter and wiser to it all. But the real sort of “flip the switch” for a lot of people was the Chinese spy balloon.
Samantha Aschieris: Definitely. And one other thing I wanted to ask you about was last month the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed your bill, known as the SCREEN Act or Stopping Communist Regimes From Engaging in Edits Now Act. Can you tell us a little bit more about this legislation and why there’s a need for it?
Green: Yeah. So, the Chinese have a propaganda arm and that propaganda arm uses things like the Confucius Institutes and supports to high schools, educational stuff, programs to the high schools. But they also use our entertainment industry, and they basically edit movies that are shining a light on, for example, what they did in Tibet. And so any attempts to basically say that Taiwan is a separate country get edited by the Chinese, and these things shouldn’t happen in our media.
And so what we did is we limited federal support for movies and for movie companies that allow China to have edit rights to the movies, the businesses that want to make money in China. Great. We’re not opposed to that, but you can’t change the narrative from truth to something other than truth and get the support of the federal government because China’s a competitor, at the least, and an enemy for many of us.
Aschieris: One final topic to discuss with you. I wanted to discuss TikTok. It seems to be more and more, every single day people are becoming more aware of the threats that the app poses, especially at the congressional level. There’s been a lot of movement in terms of people just becoming more serious on the issue.
When we think about the threats, whether it’s national security, whether it’s threats to young people, how do you get that message across to someone who just sees the app as innocent dance videos, they don’t maybe necessarily recognize the threats that the app can pose?
Green: There’s two things that—in the hearing that happened in Energy and Commerce, nobody asked the question, “Where’s the code written?” They talked about where the data is stored and how the data is stored in Texas, etc. But nobody asked the question, “Well, where’s the code? Where’s a patch to the code written?”
And so having watched that and having some cyber responsibilities in Homeland Security, we have [the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] in the Department of Homeland Security, I wrote a letter to the CEO and said, “Where’s your code written?” And he came back to us and said, “It’s written all over the world. But yes, some of it is written in China.”
Which means, how do we know there isn’t a backdoor written into that code or a patch to the code that comes from China?
So that risk means that all of American’s data is available, potentially, to the Chinese. And we know they have a law that says, a 2017 security law, any company has to provide its data to the government, to the CCP, on demand.
So population mapping is something that’s complex to understand, but after COVID maybe a little bit easier. They hacked our insurance companies and got a lot of people’s, patients’ data. They hack hospitals, they get information about American’s health, and then they have that information.
For example … you mentioned a dance video. Well, on the bookshelf behind the dance video is all the books that that individual is reading, and that’s population mapping. It’s understanding the mindset. And from a commercial standpoint, you take that information and it helps your businesses compete against the United States’ businesses.
So there’s a commercial competitive advantage to data mining like that, but there’s also a national security. If you’ve got all the data, the DNA of us from 23andMe, well, you now can craft through your Wuhan lab or whatever, or your illegal lab in California, targeted biological warfare.
So we have this commercial threat and we have a national security threat, and it’s all because of data mining. China has a plan to know everything about us that they need to know in order to defeat us, so we have to stop it.
Aschieris: Congressman Green, I have one more question that just popped into my head. How does the threat of the Chinese Communist Party differ from threats that we see from Russia, North Korea, Iran? What makes this threat unique?
Green: Well, China, I guess, the biggest threat for us is the changing of the rules-based international order, so how the deals are done globally. And they want to basically change the paradigm where they’re running, instead of the United States running, the rules of international discourse and relations.
Their model, though, is the same model as stealing information, tracking people, social credit score, what they’re doing to the Uyghurs, what they’re doing in Tibet, and all these different things.
So that’s not who we want running the rules-based international order. We want what the West put together at the end of World War II, which has been very stable and kept peace for the most part.
So that’s probably the biggest threat.
It’s not like the CCP is going to come over here and land troops in San Jose, but very clearly they want to control the Pacific, too. So a secondary goal for them is to control their near—and that’s why I think the Belt and Road Initiative is very Sun Tzu.
There’s an old Sun Tzu saying that says, “Make an ally afar to take on an enemy who’s near.” And the United States in the South Pacific is considered an enemy to those guys, and so they are befriending people all over the World, the Belt and Road Initiative, to basically take us on and block us out of the South China Sea.
So both from a big standpoint, the rules-based order, and then locally there in their region, they’re doing everything they can to dominate.
Aschieris: Well, Congressman Green, thank you so much for joining us today. I wish it was a happier topic that we were discussing, but super important. Thanks so much for your insight and, again, for joining us. Always great to see you.
Green: Yeah, thanks for having me. You guys have a great day.
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