Many have compared our fight against COVID-19 to fighting a war. In reality, it is a World War where we are all fighting this invisible virus. But another analogy might be our long Cold War with the Soviet Union, but this time it is with Communist China. While China did not intentionally unleash this virus, it allowed (and continues to allow) favorable conditions for viruses to erupt. China also failed to properly warn the rest of the world what was coming and continues to mislead health authorities about the severity of the outbreak that began in Wuhan. The damage to the health and economies around the world has been enormous.
During the Cold War, we certainly did not rely on the USSR for critical technology, medical supplies or pharmaceuticals. That would have been ludicrous. But today we are relying on China for all the essential products we need to fight this virus. This is also ludicrous. American manufacturers are more than capable of producing these things on our own (or at least with allied nations). It’s high time we started doing just that.
That is why I wrote President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE a letter urging him to implement additional Buy America requirements for federal procurement of medical supplies and active pharmaceutical ingredients. This focus will help use taxpayer-financed purchases to rebuild our public health industrial base in support of our national security.
The implementation of this policy cannot be underscored enough, because it’s clear that China is working to become a global pharmacy. They dominate the pharmaceutical sector and have legal prescription drugs on the market that many of us use frequently. As America’s ability to produce pharmaceuticals decreases, China’s has increased. This is not a wise long-term situation for us.
Prioritizing the manufacturing work in the public health sector is a vital first step, and it is long overdue. Fortunately, right now we have a president who is committed to the American worker. No administration in my lifetime has done more to support American business than President Trump’s. That is why I am confident he is taking this issue seriously and genuinely wants to explore every option available to make it happen.
Another aspect of this is our national security, which has been a concern since the beginning of COVID-19. We know that China is doing everything they can to ensure their advantage in the pharmaceutical industry remains unchallenged. As they reopen their “wet-markets” and continue unsafe agricultural processes, we will certainly continue to see additional novel viruses spread around the world, causing tremendous physical and economic pain. China cannot continue to be both the source of deadly infections and also the lone supplier of critical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
This is all cause for great concern and should require serious, thoughtful solutions as to how we shift economic focus in the future. We won the Cold War through technological innovation, strong manufacturing, and economic strength. We can better prepare our nation for future pandemics while at the same time strengthening our manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries by aggressively focusing on Buy America policies. Given all we’ve learned about China, we should all get behind reducing our dependence on China and building up America’s independence.
Aderholt represents Alabama’s 4th District and is ranking member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. He also serves as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Appropriations Subcommittee.