The new House Committee on China was set to hold its first hearing Tuesday evening amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Among the topics the committee planned to investigate were military threats, economic competitiveness and human rights.
The 118th Congress has found rare bipartisan aims surrounding the tensions with China, escalated recently by diplomatic strains follow the Pentagon’s downing of what it says was a Chinese spy balloon that crossed the country earlier this month.
The U.S. and China are also at odds over Chinese saber-rattling against its neighbor, Taiwan. The Pentagon last week announced plans to more than triple U.S. military presence on the island nation that’s just 100 miles off China’s coast.
Further, this week the Department of Energy concluded—with “low confidence”—that the Covid-19 virus likely originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, rather than from natural causes. That followed blowback from China in January over a White House requirement that anyone over age 2 traveling to the U.S. from China must present a negative Covid test. Those concerns came after a surge in the virus in China amid its lifting of its draconian “zero Covid” policy.
House China Chair Mike Gallagher (R-WI) has called on the Biden Administration to “declassify all the relevant intelligence” surrounding Covid’s origins.
Despite the general bipartisan, however, Gallagher and fellow committee member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) on Sunday were compelled to condemn Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) for questioning the loyalty of Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the first Chinese American woman in Congress and the head of the Congressional Asian Caucus. Gooden doubled down on his attack against Chu on Monday.
“The more that [the committee] can focus on the facts, the better off we are in understanding the nature of the challenges that we face and what are the next steps that we need to take,” Krishnamoorthi said Monday. He added that it’s the Chinese Communist Party leaders that “want us to devolve into partisanship or stereotyping or xenophobia…so let’s focus on the facts.”
Among the witnesses set to testify at the committee’s Tuesday hearing were former Trump Administration National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and former Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger.