WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, spoke Wednesday on the importance of holding China accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Ernst stated that while China is an important trade partner for Iowa’s farmers, she is working on legislation to decrease our country’s dependency on China for critical supplies and manufacturing.

Earlier in the day, the Trump Administration ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas saying that it was the base of Chinese espionage efforts to steal scientific research.

Ernst’s full remarks are below:

The coronavirus doesn’t come with a label saying “Made in China,” but perhaps it should.

“This pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China, has flooded the world just like so many products from China that we all now rely upon to protect ourselves against the spread of contagion.

“The situation underscores the conundrum our nation faces balancing the need to work with the Chinese government and the challenges of holding the communist party accountable for its devious deeds.

“Plain and simple: The Chinese Communist Party attempted to cover up the outbreak of COVID-19 from the beginning, and continues to do so today.

“Rather than containing the spread of the virus, the regime has focused on containing knowledge of the outbreak — going so far as punishing Chinese scientists who dared to warn about the virus’ imminent danger.

“As a result, we now face a worldwide pandemic that has claimed countless victims and could impact every aspect of our lives for months, if not years, to come.

Folks, China does not play by the rules. They constantly seek to undermine the law.

“And if you ask an Iowa farmer, they’ll tell you the same.

“For years, China has stolen intellectual property and reneged on their trade agreements.

“While we’ve seen China still purchasing some of our corn and soybeans, they haven’t completely held up their end of the deal when it comes to China Phase one deal.

“Folks, when China cheats on trade deals, the impact is real: American jobs are lost and wealth is transferred from the U.S. to the Communist Party of China.

“This is unacceptable, especially after the damage already caused to our economy by China’s mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak.

“And for decades, our leaders in Washington played along, remaining quiet as China stole American intellectual property and scientific research, cheated on trade deals, and violated basic human rights.

“Those days are over.

“President Trump is standing up to China by taking decisive actions against the communist regime for its flagrant violation of trade deals and crackdown on the autonomy and rights of Hong Kong.

“I’ve heard this from my farmers in Iowa. They know that this president is standing up for them and pushing back on China.

“And here in the Senate, my colleagues and I are also holding China accountable.

“Right now, I’m laser focused on decreasing our dependency on China for critical supplies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been what I call ‘a great awakening’ when it comes to the vulnerabilities in our supply chain.

“The United States has become far too dependent on Communist China for items like personal protective equipment, prescription drugs, and other essential medical supplies.

“We need to fix that. And that’s what I’m fighting to do.

“During my military service, including as a logistics battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard, I learned firsthand the importance of securing the defense supply chain.

“We cannot continue to rely on our adversaries, like China, for critically important national security materials.

“That’s why in this year’s annual defense bill, I made it a priority to boost support for university research in places like Iowa to ensure we can make and manufacture metals and materials here at home.

“This will help make sure China doesn’t corner the world market on key materials.

“Retaking our supply chain from Red China also means removing unnecessary red tape imposed by Washington.

“I am working to waive the tax penalties for manufacturing and medical supply companies that choose to relocate to America.

“I have also demanded the Treasury Department investigate how Chinese companies are avoiding taxes that U.S. businesses have to pay.

“Iowans across the state have told me how much they appreciate this president standing up for them by pushing back on the years of bad actions by the Communist Party.

“They also want to end our dependence on that same Communist regime.

“Yes, we can and we should continue trading important agricultural products.

“But, at the same time, we should bring jobs back and make critical supplies ourselves, so when you look at a product’s label, it proudly reads, ‘Made in the USA.’”

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