We cannot take our eye off China
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China has a history of positioning itself to take advantage of global crisis while feeding the power of the Chinese Communist Party.

While the world was rightfully distracted fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic, China seized the opportunity and moved troops to the Line of Actual Control in contested territory between China and India.

In the South China Sea, the Chinese military continues its buildup in an effort to cement its power.

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During the chaos imposed by the coronavirus, China even continued the crackdown on its own people as efforts to roll back the rights of citizens in Hong Kong further fanned the flames of tension between mainland China and the region.

As China quietly uses this crisis to their own advantage, it must not be forgotten that their deception and lies were what caused the spread of the virus in the first place. Because of this, more than 100,000 Americans have died and millions of people have lost their livelihoods.

China must be held accountable, and it should be done in a way that will better prepare our nation for any future health crises we may face.

China’s coverup of the COVID-19 outbreak was assisted by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) willingness to regurgitate what they were told by Chinese leadership.

It wasn’t until Jan. 30, when WHO held a meeting and cheered on China’s transparency, that they called the coronavirus an international public health emergency.

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The WHO should have sent in experts immediately to monitor the situation firsthand, instead of relaying the talking points of the Communist Party. They went as far as to extol China’s action to contain the virus without any mention of their infringement on human rights.

That is why I introduced a bill requiring the secretary of State, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, to investigate what went wrong and the WHO’s involvement in covering up for the Chinese mishandling of the pandemic. I also support creating a Joint Select Committee in Congress to investigate China’s role in COVID-19. Congress needs to get the facts then act quickly to ensure a reliable global health organization is on the ground next time. The world needs a global health watchdog that is not a mouthpiece for China so we are not caught off guard again.

We also cannot continue to be at the mercy of foreign entities like China for what our citizens need, especially when it comes to life-saving medications or personal protective equipment (PPE).

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the weaknesses in our health care products and pharmaceutical supply chains were abundantly clear. Just ask any American trying to find masks, gloves or hand sanitizer. We didn’t have enough. Even worse, over 70 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients needed for medications are made overseas. Thirteen percent comes from China alone.

When the United States moved to increase production and source personal protective equipment (PPE) abroad, China clamped down on our ability to purchase products from them.

The only acceptable reaction from the United States must be ensuring the long-term viability of our own domestic manufacturing market. To do this, I introduced legislation to incentivize manufacturers to relocate back to the United States in Opportunity Zones. This will create a reliable, steady source of medications and PPE while creating jobs in the areas that need them most.

Beyond COVID-19, we are also obligated to address China’s continued economic sabotage of U.S. industries and the nation’s blatant theft of intellectual property. This week, I signed on to a bill authored by Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE from California that moves to limit Chinese nationals from engaging in important STEM-related work, tracks Chinese funding to U.S. higher education institutions, and requires companies to disclose ties to the Chinese Community Party.

We cannot afford to take our eye off of Chinese actions and interests. We need to hold China accountable in ways that will simultaneously increase America’s independence and preparation for the future.

Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter represents the First District of Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives.