As our reality drastically changed this year, and weeks turned into months of uncertainty and fear, one prevailing thought has emerged: we can never let this happen again. Now, as another season starts to change and for the first time in more than 100 years we face a fall without Buckeye football, many are asking, how did we get here and what can we do to hold those responsible accountable?
We know that the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first publicly identified last December in Wuhan, China, where it began to spread rapidly across China. As the aggressive virus continued to spread throughout the region, then to other parts of the world, the United States braced for impact as the first known travel-related COVID-19 case entered our country in January. In its path, COVID-19 has cost us hundreds of thousands of lives, businesses and jobs lost, and our country forever changed.
This could have been prevented. From the onset, had China taken appropriate measures to control the virus’ spread and disclose its severity, rather than shrouding itself in secrecy, the number of Ohioans’ lives claimed and impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic could have been drastically reduced. Moreover, it may not have erupted into a global pandemic.
In May, I launched an effort with several of my congressional colleagues to hold China accountable for its leaders’ deceptive actions that led to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our legislation, the COVID-19 Accountability Act would ensure China either fully complies with an investigation into the events that led to the COVID-19 outbreak, or face sanctions for not cooperating.
We can no longer look the other way while China’s leaders – the Chinese Communist Party – so recklessly continue to endanger the global economy and the safety of our own American citizens. It’s time to crack down on China’s malice. We need leaders in Washington who will step up to the task, not turn a blind eye while drawing imaginary lines in the sand – as have progressive ideologists and administrations of the past.
Republicans are leading the way to crack down on aggression from the Chinese Communist Party. Recently, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation that would help secure American scientists’ research of a COVID-19 vaccine against foreign hackers, and impose consequences for any attempts to commit this cybercrime.
In the United States’ hands, a COVID-19 vaccine will help protect the entire human race from the spread of the virus and ensure commerce and our daily lives can safely be restored. In the wrong hands, like those of the Chinese Communist Party, a vaccine could be weaponized and exploited for political advantages. I gladly joined Leader McCarthy’s efforts to ensure a vaccine is developed swiftly, safely, and securely, and that any Chinese attempts to steal the United States’ intellectual property – of which there is a long history – are rebuffed.
To fully break free from the Chinese Communist Party’s imposing global presence, the United States must also reinforce our domestic and close-ally supply chains, as well as put in place measures that would prepare our country for any future pandemics as devastating as COVID-19. The United States’ reliance on Chinese manufacturing combined with China’s negligence that led to the outbreak of the virus has proven we can never again place so much trust in the Communist leaders of that nation.
Last month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and I launched the Pandemic Preparedness Caucus, which will focus its efforts on strengthening our current response to the domestic spread of COVID-19 and equipping the United States to prepare for future public health emergencies. In addition to reinforcing our medical and essential equipment supply chains, our caucus will focus on investments in science, research, and medical technology; testing protocols and capabilities; preventative medicine; public health equity; and biodefense issues. Laying this groundwork now will fortify any existing vulnerabilities, preventing the Chinese Communist Party from capitalizing on them in the future.
In rebuilding a resilient post-COVID economy and restoring our way of life here in Ohio, it’s important we consider bad actors like the Chinese Communist Party, whose main goal is to challenge the vigor of the United States. This trend has been decades in the making, and with the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of our minds, the lessons to be learned are clear: our country needs leaders who will stand up to China for its criminal activities and move our country out from under the long arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
This piece is the first in a three-part series about Chinese aggression, written by Congressman Troy Balderson, who represents Ohio’s 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.