Congressman Steve King releases these remarks following House passage of an amendment he offered to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that requires the Department of Defense to analyze China’s growing surveillance state to determine the threat it poses to American security interests. King’s amendment is now included within the House version of the NDAA legislation, which itself passed the House of Representatives on a nearly party-line vote of 220-197 this afternoon.
“I am encouraged that my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year passed the House of Representatives by voice vote on July 11th, 2019. This important amendment requires the ‘Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’ to include an assessment of (1) China’s expansion of its surveillance state; (2) Any correlation of such expansion with its oppression of its citizens and its threat to United States national security interests around the world; and (3) An overview of the extent to which such surveillance corresponds to the overall respect, or lack thereof, for human rights.
This matter is one that I have long been attuned to and concerned about, ultimately leading me to draft and introduce the ‘Protect American IPR Act’, which is H.R. 902 this session, and seeks to stop Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property through duties on Chinese merchandise. For this reason, I have been encouraged to see President Trump prioritizing the Chinese stealing of American intellectual property.
Mass and unabated government surveillance does not only offend individual liberties; in the hands of an authoritarian government, it poses the Orwellian threat of the government always watching, and ultimately using this ability, made possible to an unprecedented extent by modern technology, to spy on, steal from, intimidate and persecute not only those it views as “political enemies” and “threats”, but anyone it deems as expedient.
This Orwellian threat is becoming a reality, perhaps nowhere more so than in China, where the government vigorously pursues a national video surveillance network. The affinity of the Chinese government to control its population in part by mass monitoring is not a new phenomenon, but advancing technology makes its prospects more frightening every day for those within and outside of the Mainland.
One internet privacy expert warns, “What China is doing here is selectively breeding its population to select against the trait of critical, independent thinking”. Since China is a neighbor to many and more importantly an actor on the world stage, that erosion will not simply negatively impact the Chinese, it will spread—it arguably has already. A world with continually less critical, independent thought is a prospect to tremble at.
It is my strong belief that U.S. policy, including defense policy, should by no measure assist, intentionally or unintentionally, the growth of China’s surveillance. Instead, it should discourage the expansion of the Chinese government into the rest of the world, while at the same time encouraging greater human rights for the Chinese people, including expectant mothers and Christians and other religious minorities.
I have heard from many individuals who warn against China’s rapid expansion and influence into the rest of the world, including Africa and Central America, our nation’s own backyard. Although the government-connected interests bring economic promise (and exploitation) to the developing world, they also bring the Chinese surveillance state with them. To counter this very real and growing threat, we need to first understand its scope, its impact for individuals in China as well as those around the world, and the extent to which it threatens the U.S. national security interests.”