Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley—who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will be the Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for the 117th Congress—teamed up with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and John Cornyn (R-TX) today to introduce legislation to monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation strategies.
“The ability to express oneself and make one’s voice heard is a fundamental human right—one that billions around the world cherish, and billions more yearn for,” said Merkley. “We must monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation of Americans and our companies, so we can create a strategy to safeguard this bedrock freedom and hold those accountable who suppress and destroy it.”
“The Chinese Government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continue to use censorship and intimidation to bully American companies on issues deemed sensitive to the CCP,” Rubio said. “By highlighting Beijing’s coercive efforts against American citizens and companies, this interagency task force will shine a light on the long arm of China’s authoritarian reach.”
“For years, the Chinese government has weaponized political censorship in order to intimidate and silence anyone who opposes them. Texans who speak their minds should never have to live in fear of recriminations from a foreign adversary like the Chinese Communist Party,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would urge President Biden to take critical steps to combat China’s rampant and dangerous regime of censorship, and I am proud to support it.”
The legislation would require President Biden to establish the China Censorship Monitor and Action Group, an interagency task force to oversee the development and execution of a strategy to better understand and respond to the ramifications of China’s censorship of Americans and American companies. The task force would create an annual report, complete congressional briefings, and be chaired by the National Security Council staff and include a vice chair from the National Economic Council staff with representation from a broad range of U.S. government agencies.
In addition, the bill would require a nonpartisan research organization or federally funded research and development center to develop a report detailing major trends, patterns, and methods of China’s censorship and intimidation and their effects on the United States. This information is critical to crafting best practices for American industries and companies, the U.S. government, and individual Americans.
Today’s introduction follows a series of efforts by Merkley to hold China accountable for other crackdowns on human rights and freedoms, including supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, banning the export of crowd control munitions to Hong Kong, and shedding light on the genocide of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
Full text of the legislation is available here.