Republicans are forming a committee on China for when the GOP takes control of the House this January that will pressure the Biden administration to be more hawkish on China, Nikkei Asia reported on Monday.
President Biden has pursued a hardline China policy by maintaining Trump-era tariffs, ramping up the economic pressure through sanctions, increasing support for Taiwan, and working to build alliances against China in the Asia Pacific. His administration has made clear countering China is its top priority, but Republicans are likely going to push Biden to be even tougher.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who has been tapped to lead the Select Committee on China, told CNN on Sunday that he views China’s Communist Party “as an enemy of the United States.” Announcing Gallagher as the leader of the new committee, the presumed incoming House Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), said that China is the “greatest geopolitical threat of our lifetime.”
One of Gallagher’s first priorities will likely be trying to ban TikTok, the popular video-sharing app that is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The allegation is that because ByteDance is a Chinese company, it’s obligated to share user data with the Chinese government and can be used as a spying tool, similar to how the FBI and NSA have backdoor access to data from Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other US tech platforms.
For their part, ByteDance insists its data is safe from China since it is stored in the US. Gallagher admitted on Sunday that “we don’t know” if the Chinese government is using TikTok to harm American children but said it should be banned anyway. A bill to ban TikTok from US government devices has passed through the Senate, but Republicans are looking to ban the app altogether.
Another priority of Republicans is to ensure that the Biden administration is enforcing sanctions against China. The administration enacted major export controls targeting China’s semiconductor industry in October. Under the sanctions, companies can apply for licenses and exemptions, but Republicans want the measures to be as strict as possible.