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Pfluger: We Must Confront the CCP's "Grave Security Threat" to the Homeland Together

Pfluger Holds Subcommittee Hearing on the Chinese Communist Party’s Threats to the U.S. homeland

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence Chairman August Pfluger (R-TX) delivered the following opening remarks in a hearing to assess the U.S. homeland’s vulnerabilities to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aggression.
Watch Chairman Pfluger's full opening statement in a Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence hearing entitled, “A Security Sprint: Assessing the U.S. Homeland’s Vulnerabilities to Chinese Communist Party Aggression.”
As prepared for delivery:

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence’s second hearing exploring the threats the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses to the U.S. homeland.  I would like to thank all our witnesses for testifying today.

In March of this year, this subcommittee convened a hearing entitled, “Confronting Threats Posed by the Chinese Communist Party to the U.S. Homeland.”

During that hearing, with the support of testimony from national security experts, Members learned about the many ways in which the CCP is deceiving and manipulating the United States to commit espionage in the homeland and overturn global rules-based order. We also discussed the CCP’s aggressive strategy of Military-Civil Fusion and how it manifests as threats to our homeland. 

The Subcommittee heard how the CCP is leveraging Confucius Institutes, programs the CCP claims are meant for language learning and cultural exchange, at U.S. universities and colleges to recruit American scientists and researchers to promote Military-Civil Fusion and suppress Chinese dissidents who are studying on American campuses. 

There is even evidence that the CCP is utilizing “non-traditional” intelligence collectors, such as Chinese academic researchers, to commit espionage in the U.S. homeland.

We learned that the CCP has orchestrated the theft of anywhere from $225 to $600 billion in Intellectual Property annually according to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property.

One of the witnesses, Bill Evanina, the former Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, put this into perspective for us, explaining that equates to nearly $4,000 to $6,000 per American family of four after taxes. 

The Subcommittee discussed the imminent threats the CCP poses to U.S. cybersecurity and critical infrastructure as well as its efforts to undermine American economic security.

Furthermore, we heard how the CCP is refusing to cooperate in international counter narcotics efforts, tacitly approving of the traffic of illicit fentanyl and related precursor chemicals needed to produce fentanyl from China to Mexico, fueling the American opioid crisis. Today, we will revisit all these pressing issues and more. 

The Committee will hear from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding the role they each play in mitigating CCP threats to the U.S. homeland. 

During this Committee’s Worldwide Threats hearing in November 2022, FBI Director Wray stated that, “the greatest long-term threat to our nation’s ideas, innovation, and economic security is the foreign intelligence and economic espionage threat from China."

The FBI has investigated many cases of CCP intrusions, including making critical arrests surrounding the illegal Chinese police station operating in Manhattan, New York – arrests the Committee asked DHS and FBI about in an April 24th letter that remains unanswered to this day—and bringing those involved in the CCP’s brazen cyber intrusions to justice. 

At the same time, DHS has begun to prioritize the threats posed by the CCP by crafting an unrealistic 90-day sprint that focuses on defending critical infrastructure, disrupting the global fentanyl supply chain, bolstering screening and vetting for illicit travelers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), mitigating PRC malign economic influence, securing the Arctic region, and mitigating counterintelligence threats posed by the PRC. 

While these efforts from both the FBI and DHS are necessary steps in the right direction, we must ensure countering the CCP is the highest priority for all entities involved in homeland security. 

Unlike the Biden administration, the Trump administration acknowledged the threat posed by the CCP at a time when it was not popular to do so. 

For example, in November 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ), under the Trump administration, launched the China Initiative to raise awareness, and to identify and prosecute CCP trade secret theft and economic espionage, and to protect American critical infrastructure and supply chains from CCP’s malign influence.

In February 2022, the DOJ ended the China Initiative, in which they said was “in favor of a broader approach to countering nation-state threats.”

However, it appears the decision was motivated by nothing more than identity politics fueled by unfounded accusations that the investigations under the initiative were excessive or racially biased. In fact, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen admitted that he had not seen any indication of bias or prejudice in decision-making by the Department of Justice in the related cases and that actions were “driven by genuine national security concerns.”

Following the scuttling of the China Initiative, security experts warned that the action emboldened China to increase its spying on the United States. 

In a similar fashion, on January 12, 2021, in the final days of the Trump administration, DHS published the “DHS Strategic Action Plan to Counter the Threat Posed by the People’s Republic of China.”

This comprehensive plan laid out four critical areas of focus for DHS to counter CCP malign efforts: border security and immigration; trade and economic security; cybersecurity and critical infrastructure; and maritime security. 

Following the transition to the Biden administration, DHS continued to work consistently on mitigating CCP threats from the component level; however, there was not a clear message regarding DHS Headquarters’ priorities in the issue space until recently. 

On April 20, 2023, Secretary Mayorkas issued the “90-day People’s Republic of China Threats Sprint,” displaying an encouraging shift in the Department’s focus to threats emanating from the CCP. However, 90 days is not sufficient to undo the CCP’s 73-year long campaign to undermine the United States. China has been racing ahead for decades, while we “sprint” to catch up. We must do more. 

Both DHS and the FBI need to form long-term strategic plans, like the ones established under the Trump administration, that can counter evolving threats from the CCP now and into the future.

I want to reiterate what I said when the Subcommittee met for its first hearing this Congress: This conflict is not with individual citizens of the PRC—this conflict is with the CCP, an authoritarian regime that commits genocide against its own people, censors free speech across the globe, and aims to end democracy as we know it.

We must ensure we are enacting commonsense policy and strategy that can mitigate CCP aggression in the homeland.

We need to rise above personal politics and confront the grave security threat posed by the CCP together. I continue to look forward to bipartisan cooperation on this important topic, and I am eager to hear the testimony we will receive today.