Barr & Gonzalez Lead Effort to Stand Up to China

“This is a totalitarian, communist regime that doesn’t believe in human rights, doesn’t believe in a democratic process, and will do anything they can to achieve their aims.”


WASHINGTON, DC — The Ripon Society held a luncheon discussion this past Thursday with two members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are helping to lead the effort to hold China accountable and slow the spread of their global influence.

Those members were U.S. Reps. Andy Barr (KY-6) and Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16). Barr, the top Republican of the Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy, and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, kicked things off by discussing just how critical it is to maintain a check on China and the Chinese Communist Party.

“I think the biggest issue facing our country right now is the looming threat from China,” Barr stated. “It’s a generational challenge that we have, and I’m honored to serve on two committees that really have jurisdictional influence on this issue.”

“Ultimately, you can’t beat China by becoming China. We don’t want to emulate China’s theft of intellectual property. It’s socialism. We don’t want to emulate their central planning model. We want to embrace our values of free markets, capitalism, and free enterprise. But how do we do that when we’re facing an adversary that engages in malign foreign investment, stealing our intellectual property, and stealing our technology?”
“Over the last 40 years, when the United States engaged China under different administrations, we thought we had good intentions. We thought that engagement with the People’s Republic of China would introduce them to our Western values: capitalism and free markets. We thought they would evolve and change, that they would embrace not only democratization, but reforms that would lead to human rights and basic acceptance of the international rules. That was not the case. And unfortunately, especially with the new reign of Xi Jinping, we see China using the United States and Western markets to fuel their civil-military fusion, their malign conduct.”

According to Barr, in order to hold China accountable, there must be an effort to provide financial transparency – an issue that, if ignored, can threaten not only American investors, but U.S. national security as a whole.

“We want Chinese listed companies to be subject to the same rules that U.S. companies are. And that, if you’re going to list on U.S. exchanges, and you’re going to put investors at risk, you need to live by the same Sarbanes-Oxley rules. You need to have the same accounting standards and you have to have the transparency that U.S. listed companies have.”

“The problem is not just investor protection. The problem is national security. For example, U.S. investors could find themselves providing capital to companies that threaten our national security, whether it’s on the telecommunication side with Huawei, or whether it’s a company that has connections with the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army. Americans should not be in the business of fueling the rise of a Chinese surveillance state and their military.”

“I think this is one of the biggest challenges that we face, where China is manipulating access to our capital markets to fuel their civil military fusion. We need to get this right. We need to encourage cross-border exchange. We need to encourage capitalism and free markets around the globe. But, when there’s a national security threat like this, we need to send a clear signal, not just through our securities regulation, but through the power of U.S. sanctions and our economic tools that we have with the U.S. Treasury.”

Gonzalez, who sits on the Financial Services Committee and serves as Co-chair of the House China Task Force, agreed with his colleague from Kentucky. He explained that when approaching the issue of China, he asks himself three basic questions: “Who are they? What do they want? And how are they playing the game?”
“So who are they?” Gonzalez asked rhetorically. “I think we all know at this point. If it hasn’t been made clear, this is a totalitarian, communist regime that doesn’t believe in human rights, doesn’t believe in a democratic process, and will do anything that they can to achieve their aims.
“What do they want? On the China Task Force, I asked that question to some of the most senior Administration officials, some of the top folks in the State Department and National Security Council. I would ask them, I said, “Does China want a unipolar world or a multipolar world? Do they think that we can co-exist, or do they think that they need to be at the center, and everything feeds up through them.” And every single person said China wants a unipolar world. They’re not interested in coexisting with an American capitalist system or a Western Democratic system. That is not what they want. They want their system to be the dominant system that informs all of global commerce, defense, and all of the international institutions.
“How do they play the game? They go with what they call a ‘total systems approach,’ which is all encompassing. It is defense, it is economic, it is technological, it is propaganda, and it is information warfare. All of society, for the Chinese Communist Party, is engaged in this struggle. This struggle that they believe will ultimately end with them at the top of the global pyramid and the rest of us sort of serving underneath them.”

The Ohio Republican says, in order to combat the growing global influence of China, he has introduced pieces of legislation this Congress that would lead to increased financial transparency.

“The DATA Act would create a ‘China Economic Data Coordination Center,’ essentially at the Department of Commerce, whereby all Chinese data could be housed, synthesized, analyzed, and then presented back to the relevant agencies. One thing that’s really difficult with China is that it is really difficult to get reliable data out of China because of how they run their country…and part of fighting any battle is being able to understand the lay of the land. 

“Then the second one is the China Financial Threat Mitigation Act, which would require the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to expand current reporting requirements to our financial regulators to make sure that there are no systemic financial risks associated with China’s shadow banking sector. A lot of the banking that takes place in China is done ‘off-book,’ and, as a result, when you have an economy that is that large and that powerful, it is hard to understand what systemic risks might be out there.

“It is going to take a concerted effort across party lines and across multiple administrations – probably for the rest of our lives….We need to make sure that we are prepared, and that we understand the threat and are able to articulate an American strategy and a strategy for the world that will keep Western Democratic values at the forefront and not the values of the Chinese Communist Party.”

To view Barr and Gonzalez’s remarks before The Ripon Society luncheon discussion Thursday afternoon, please click on the link below: 

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.