WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered remarks on the Senate floor highlighting the acute need to counter Chinese propaganda and hold China accountable for the types of medical and political censorship that helped fuel the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
As Sen. Cruz said during his remarks:
“We need to stand up and deal directly with the threat China poses. China bears direct responsibility, direct culpability, for the over 300,000 people who have died worldwide, for the trillions in economic livelihoods that have been destroyed.”
Watch Sen. Cruz’s full remarks here and read excerpts below.
Following his remarks, Sen. Cruz introduced the following legislation:
- Ending Chinese Medical Censorship and Cover Ups Act of 2020, legislation to sanction Chinese officials involved in the ongoing suppression of medical experts, journalists, and political dissidents, amid Chinese censorship of its citizens that is helping to fuel the global pandemic of the coronavirus. Read the full bill text here.
- Stopping Censorship, Restoring Integrity, Protecting Talkies Act or SCRIPT Act, legislation to cut off Hollywood studios from assistance they receive from the federal government if those studios censor their films for screening in China. Read the full bill text here.
- Blocking Evasive Attempts to Manipulate Signals Act or BEAMS Act, legislation to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from exploiting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) loopholes to propagandize to Americans from radio stations in Mexico or Canada, including through stations entangled with Chinese state-owned media outlets such as Phoenix TV. Read the full bill text here.
Since the first reports of the coronavirus outbreak in January, when Sen. Cruz called for a travel ban to and from China, Sen. Cruz has called for a fundamental reassessment of the U.S.-China relationship, introducing legislation to hold China accountable for the type of medical censorship that allowed the coronavirus to go global, to combat China’s propaganda campaign in the U.S., to counter Chinese espionage, and to end U.S. dependence on China for life-saving medical supplies and rare earth elements and critical minerals used to manufacture our defense technologies. Read more about Sen. Cruz’s comprehensive push to unwind the U.S. from China amid the coronavirus pandemic here.
“Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the single most dangerous geopolitical threat that America faces now and through the next century: China.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic that has infected over 5 million people and has claimed the lives of over 300,000 people worldwide. In the United States alone, the pandemic has infected over 1.5 million people and has claimed over 93,000 lives.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shattered the lives of husbands, wives, daughters, sons, granddaughters, grandsons, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. It has also shattered the lives of those who have lost their jobs – their livelihoods – because of this disease. Thirty-eight million Americans are now out of work, the unemployment rate is at the highest it has ever been since the Great Depression, and entire industries are on the brink of collapse. Just four months ago, when the economy was booming, that was unthinkable.
“Where did this pandemic start? In China. Whether it began at the Huanan Wet Market, a barbaric breeding ground for disease where snakes, and turtles, and puppies, and kittens, and bats, and other wildlife and farm animals are killed and sold, or whether it began due to substandard safety protocols at the Wuhan Institute of Virology – where research into coronavirus was being conducted and specifically coronavirus from bats – we don’t yet know.
“Here’s what we do know: Not only did the coronavirus outbreak start in China, the Chinese Communist government did everything it could to cover up the severity of the outbreak, from lying about the origin of the virus, to how it’s transmitted, to destroying evidence, to silencing the brave whistleblower doctors, and scientists, and journalists, and activists who tried to warn the world and prevent a global pandemic. It’s been reported recently that between January 1st and April 4th, the Chinese government charged 484 people with crimes because of comments they made about the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Wuhan, eight doctors who sounded the alarm about coronavirus in December were accused of spreading lies, arrested, and forced to sign documents claiming that they had made false statements that quote disturbed the public order. In reality, they were telling the truth. They were warning us.”[…]
“If the Chinese government had acted responsibly and sought after the advice of public health professionals instead of silencing them, there’s a very real possibility the coronavirus could have been contained as a regional outbreak. Instead, we are now dealing with a deadly global pandemic.
“These brave men and women are just the latest targets of Chinese Communist government’s relentless attacks on truth-tellers, on freedom fighters, and on religious and ethnic minorities.
“The Chinese government is a 1984-style dystopian state, and it’s tracked and imprisoned millions of Uyghurs and other religious minorities. The Chinese government is constantly tracking the movements of millions of people using cutting-edge biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and it has put one million Uyghurs right now into concentration camps.”[…]
“We have known that China’s surveillance state and censorship practices are a great threat to human rights, but what the pandemic has shown us is that China’s surveillance state and censorship is [are] also a great threat to our national security and public health.
“Had those doctors, and journalists, and activists who were trying to tell the truth – desperately trying to warn the world – had they been allowed to speak, the coronavirus outbreak might have been stopped in its tracks. We may not have had to deal with this devastating pandemic that has claimed the lives and the livelihoods of men and women all around the world.
“That’s why today I’m introducing legislation to sanction Chinese officials who help to censor political speech or suppress the dissemination of medical information by citizens of China. This legislation would impose visa bans and asset blocks on those who punish or censor Chinese citizens for reporting accurate information about a disease or a pathogen, and hopefully it will help prevent something like this from ever happening again in China.
“We need to be vigilant and to act where we can to thwart the Chinese government’s attempts to twist the truth, to censor and to silence within China, but we also need to be vigilant about the Chinese government’s attempts to censor and silence elsewhere, including in our own nation.
“In the United States, the Chinese government attempts to spread propaganda by two ways: by leveraging their enormous market access to coerce Americans into self-censorship, especially to Hollywood and sports teams who stand to make billions of dollars in China, and by simply purchasing access to our cultural and educational centers. With both levers, Chinese officials have one objective: to shape what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.”
“China has the world’s second largest film market – second only to the United States – and it does around 8 billion dollars in box office revenues per year. The Chinese film market is comprised of Chinese films, but they also make sure to allow a few dozen American films into their market every year. The number is deliberately kept low, and in exchange for access American film companies submit their films to China’s censors, who often force them to change those films. American companies have learned this fact, and they’ll will often change the films in advance of even submitting.
“As a result they control not just what audiences see in China, but also what Americans see. The Chinese government’s censorship office seeks to edit anything to do with Tibet, with Taiwan, with Tiananmen Square, with human rights, with democracy, with religion, or with any criticism of communism — particularly the Chinese Communist Party. Recently, the Chinese government has succeeded in forcing changes to movies such as Top Gun the sequel, such as Doctor Strange, such as Skyfall, such as the remake of Red Dawn, Pixels, Looper, Bohemian Rhapsody – all are movies that were changed.
“In Bohemian Rhapsody, the Chinese Communist Party edited out references to the fact that Freddy Mercury was gay. In Doctor Strange, they changed the Ancient One’s character from Tibetan – as portrayed in the comic book – to Celtic. And in the Top Gun sequel that is set to come out later this year, the Taiwanese and Japanese flags on the back of Maverick’s jacket were removed to appease the Chinese Communist Party.
“Think about that for a second. What message does it send that Maverick, an American icon, is apparently afraid of the Chinese communists? That’s ridiculous.
“That’s why today I’m introducing the SCRIPT Act, which would cut off Hollywood studios from the assistance they receive from the U.S. Government if those studios censor their films for screening in China. It’s a common practice for major Hollywood films to contract with the Pentagon to use jets and tanks, and to film on bases and aircraft carriers. The SCRIPT Act should be a wakeup call for Hollywood – studios would be forced to choose between the assistance from the federal government or the money they want from China.[…]
“We need to stand up and deal directly with the threat China poses. China bears direct responsibility, direct culpability, for the over 300,000 people who have died worldwide, for the trillions in economic livelihoods that have been destroyed.
“Today I introduced three pieces of legislation to directly address Chinese censorship and their responsibility for this pandemic. And we as a body, as a bipartisan body, need to stand and stand strong protecting U.S. national security, protecting the lives of Americans and ensuring accountability — that the Chinese Communist Party have accountability for their censorship, their hiding of the facts of this pandemic, and the lives that have been lost as a result of their cover-up. Mr. President, I yield the floor.