Feb 28, 2024 - World

One year on, the House China committee is leading the debate on China policy

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Reps. Mike Gallagher (left) and Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Despite the bitter gridlock in Congress, the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party has avoided partisan chaos and gained traction to address some of the challenges China poses to the U.S., the committee chair and ranking member told Axios in a joint interview.

Why it matters: The committee has raised the national profile of key economic and security issues relating to China, including hacking, surveillance, trade fraud and human rights concerns, and it's setting the agenda for U.S. policy.

The big picture: The panel, led by Chair Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), has called for greater U.S. scrutiny of Chinese-owned tech and social media companies like TikTok, and it's held high-profile hearings with top U.S. officials testifying about Chinese government actions that harm U.S. interests.

  • Research conducted under the committee's purview has spurred the federal government to take action, such as a Homeland Security Department investigation of a Chinese automobile parts company for alleged trade fraud.
  • The panel has put together recommendations on a range of issues that were provided to standing committees. Many of those policy suggestions have been signed into law through the 2024 NDAA, including support for military cybersecurity cooperation and military training programs with Taiwan and a missile deployment strategy in the Indo-Pacific.

What they're saying: A key prerequisite for those achievements has been maintaining bipartisanship.

  • "We don't want this to devolve in partisan chaos," Gallagher said.
  • The people on the committee "want to address the problems as opposed to engage in personalities," Krishnamoorthi said.

Taiwan has been a key focus for the panel. Last week, the committee made its official first trip to Taiwan, where the delegation of committee members led by Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi assured President-elect William Lai of U.S. support amid rising tensions with China.

  • Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi said during the trip that among their top priorities are speeding up the delivery of weapons promised to Taiwan and ensuring a Ukrainian victory against Russia because "you can't be tough on China and weak on your support of Ukraine."

The panel has regularly highlighted human rights issues as well, which can otherwise be easily overshadowed by growing national security and economic concerns.

  • In September, the committee urged the administration to sanction more Chinese government officials deemed complicit in the genocide against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Less than two months later, the Biden administration did just that.
  • Without the committee, "I don't think that we would have a pressure point created on the executive branch to take those actions," Nury Turkel, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and Uyghur activist, said.

Yes, but: Some of the committee's actions have faced criticism and run into serious roadblocks.

  • The committee's recent efforts to restrict U.S. market access to Chinese pharmaceutical and biotech companies could dull the U.S. competitive edge, some analysts have said.
  • Others have said the committee is "one-sided" and that it promotes alarmism about China.

What to watch: The committee released a report in December that included about 150 policy recommendations. Gallagher said this year the committee is focused on turning the most important of those "recommendations into reality." Those include:

  • Action on TikTok, such as a ban or a forced sale.
  • Legislation on outbound capital investment.
  • Reforming CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) to prevent China-backed land sales near U.S. military facilities.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi is a Democrat, not a Republican.

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