Colorado Republicans in Congress have ramped up criticisms of China in the past month, following the playbook of at least one Republican campaign committee.
In the latest example, Reps. Ken Buck and Scott Tipton have pushed for legislation that would ban the popular social media app TikTok from government phones. TikTok’s parent company is based in China, where the government can force companies to hand over data.
“TikTok is a cybersecurity threat to our country,” Buck said Monday. “We cannot allow China’s parasitic spyware app to collect data from United States government officials.”
TikTok, made up primarily of short and goofy videos, is massively popular with Generation Z around the world. The company has said on several occasions that its U.S. team is stationed in California and makes decisions based on America’s laws and societal norms, not China’s. But GOP skepticism remains high.
While bipartisan criticisms of communist China date back decades on Capitol Hill, they have escalated in recent months due to the coronavirus outbreak, which began in China. In April, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which works to elect and re-elect Republicans to the Senate, sent candidates a memo advising them to aggressively criticize China and suggest Democrats are soft on it.
“Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” states the memo, as reported by Politico.
Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican up for re-election this year, is a frequent critic of China. Since March, he has urged President Donald Trump to create a national security task force to counter Chinese propaganda, condemned China’s sinking of a Vietnamese vessel, urged the federal government to mine more rare earth minerals rather than buy from China, and honored a silenced Chinese doctor.
Tipton, a Cortez Republican who also faces a closely-watched re-election this November, has launched a page on his congressional website he calls “Project China: Holding the CCP Accountable.” It lists bills he supports to reduce American reliance on China and hold its communist regime accountable, his office says.
“The CCP’s intentional deception cost many lives in nearly every country in the world, and had they been forthcoming at the start, much of this suffering could have likely been prevented,” Tipton said May 14, when he co-sponsored a bill sanctioning China if it doesn’t agree to an international investigation.
In April, Tipton joined 21 other House Republicans in asking the attorney general and secretary of state to bring a case against China in the International Court of Justice. If China refuses to participate, the U.S. should end air travel to China and broadcast “Western or Taiwanese media into China,” Tipton and others wrote.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, has frequently taken to Twitter this spring to criticize China, as well as Democrats and the press, who he has accused of spreading Chinese propaganda. On April 1, April Fool’s Day, he tweeted that what the World Health Organization really meant when they named COVID-19 was “China Originated Virus In December ‘19.”
COVID is an abbreviation for coronavirus disease, and the 19 refers to 2019, the year it was discovered. In March, a popular conspiracy theory claimed COVID-19 was an acronym for “Chinese-Originated Viral Infection Disease” and that it was the 19th virus to emerge from China. Like Lamborn’s tweet, that is untrue.
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