Report Highlights U.S.-China Priorities for Congressional Action

By Cathalijne Adams
Nov 14 2019 |
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U.S.-China Commission recommendations call for greater regulation of Chinese industries.

It’s been a big year in U.S.-China relations, and the conclusion of 2019 may or may not see the end of a trade war between the nations. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, charged with monitoring and investigating the national security implications of this bilateral economic relationship, has had plenty to keep an eye on.

Among a number of recommendations for congressional action in the Commission’s just-released annual report, several stand out in particular.

The Commission calls for Congress to address U.S. dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals – an issue to which we’ve been paying close attention to for some time. Just this past month, Michael Wessel, who sits on the U.S.-China Commission, laid out in testimony before a House committee China’s plans to dominate America’s drug supply as a means of securing economic supremacy but also to potentially “weaponize its supply chain should it so choose.”   

The Commission’s 2019 report recommends that Congress continue to hold hearings exploring U.S. dependence on China’s pharmaceuticals. However, the commission is clear on the goal of these hearings: Legislation that requires the Food and Drug Administration to identify pharmaceuticals that are manufactured exclusively in China or formulated with the active pharmaceutical ingredients made in China, as well as an investigation to determine whether those drugs are manufactured with as much regulation as pharmaceuticals produced in America.

The Commission also calls for Congress to mandate the creation of a higher education advisory board comprised of representatives from universities and relevant federal agencies. This board, which would be established within the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), would aim to secure the American academic research system from espionage. 

This already a focus of the FBI, which has been alerting academics of possible vulnerabilities as instances of academic espionage accumulate. An outsize number of these cases involve pilfered research being funneled to China.

Several of the Commission’s recommendations also spotlight the need for greater regulation and transparency of Chinese involvement in the U.S. financial system, including the role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in businesses operating in the United States. As we’ve seen from companies like Build Your Dreams and the China Rail Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), these companies are eager to conceal their connections to the CCP as they endeavor to undermine American manufacturers.

We hope that Congress does indeed take the Commission’s advice to heart as the next several months seem to hold only further complexity for the U.S. to navigate in its relationship with China.