U.S. Lawmakers Condemn Tech Companies for Aiding Communist China’s Surveillance and Repression

By Liam Sigler | July 17, 2019 | 12:12pm EDT
(Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) -- At the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom confernce at the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) condemned the harm done by some companies, particularly in the surveillance industry, by helping the Communist Chinese regime monitor, control, and oppress its people.

They said these companies are implicating themselves in human rights violations, particularly against the millions of Uighurs living under Chinese persecution and in internment camps. In addition, Speaker Pelosi said these companies have contributed to the United States’s trade deficit with China.

(Screenshot of Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, July 16, 2019.)

In her remarks, Speaker Pelosi noted that, 29 years ago when the United States recognized its large trade deficit with Communist China, “We said, ‘Oh my goodness, for 5 billion dollars [per year], that’s so much money, surely the Chinese will free the prisoners arrested at Tiananmen Square; give us market access to our products; stop pirating our intellectual property; and stop selling weapons, missile systems and the rest to rogue countries. We can negotiate, we have leverage.’”

“It was 5 billion dollars,” she stressed.  “Well, the business community weighed in very heavily and they said, ‘Oh, you can’t do that, peaceful evolution is going to lead to all of this good human rights, change is going to happen in China, you just wait and see.’”

She continued, “It didn’t. And here we are, 29 years later, and the trade deficit is more than 5 billion dollars -- not a year -- a week.”

As for surveillance, “there is a list that the Department of Commerce has of accountability,” said Pelosi. “I don’t have it here, but a list of criteria about companies engaged in this kind of behavior [oppressive surveillance]...we should use that list to say to the companies, ‘We are shining a bright spotlight on what you are doing.’”

“And it’s all about money,” she said.  “At the end of the day, it will all come back to money. And again, what values do people have if all they are concerned about are dollars.”

Congressman Wolf  said, “There are companies that we believe, and I am not going to mention names here, that are cooperating and working with the Chinese government. I think we should do basically the same thing, God bless him, that [human rights activist] Harry Wu did. Harry, God bless him, sued these companies.”

(Getty Images) 

“There should be suits against these companies, and the damages ought to be given to the Uighur community, to the Tibetan community, to the following on and on community,” said Wolf. “And if the cases are not successful, then the congress ought to change the law to do it in such a way that things can be [brought]. They need to pay a price.”

It is estimated that more than 2 million Uighur Muslims are in concentration camps in China, where it is reported they have been separated from loved ones, placed in austere fortified camp environments, and forced to adopt and learn about Chinese culture and language.

China has also been accused of selling its surveillance systems to buyers in Africa. Olvia Enos, a Senior Policy Analyst in Asian Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said, “China is exporting its tools of authoritarianism.”

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