Senate Republican candidate Jeff Sessions says China has not been truthful about the coronavirus and has been deeply involved in stealing American business and government secrets, adding the U.S. should take a tougher stand against that nation, as well as becoming less dependent on China economically.
Sessions started rolling out a series of stands on the idea this week as part of his campaign against Tommy Tuberville, who he will face in a rescheduled runoff in July. The winner will face the Democratic incumbent, Doug Jones.
His rollout coincided with a report Wednesday from Bloomberg that the U.S. intelligence community issued a classified report to the White House determining China concealed the extend of the outbreak in that country, underreporting total cases and deaths.
Sessions said in a phone interview Tuesday with the Daily Mountain Eagle that as U.S. attorney general he served on the National Security Council and focused on Chinese practices then and earlier in his Senate career. He said in a statement that as attorney general, he launched the “China Initiative” to combat Beijing’s theft of American intellectual property, including defense technology, microchips, and wind turbines. The effort has resulted in over 50 indictments with 1,000 more open cases to date."
As a senator, he said he worked to impose tariffs on Chinese steel over unfair dumping practices and "advanced legislation to save American jobs from China by curbing Chinese currency manipulation, which artificially makes their products cheaper than American ones."
However, Sessions' phone comments Tuesday indicated he is now also concerned about the COVID-19 virus, which he views as one of the biggest coverup efforts ever by the Chinese.
"Any thoughts that China would become a more responsible nation have just slipped away year after year," Session said. "They are relentless in their goal to obtain global power and be the world's leader. They use any techniques to get there."
He said China is a communist country not committed to the truth. "Their primary commitment is to regime power, the revolution," he said. "That is a critical part of the problem we have with the corona-Wuhan virus." He referred in part to the City of Wuhan, where the virus reportedly started at.
In a statement he released this week, Sessions said, “The Coronavirus pandemic makes clear how deceitful, brutal, and ruthless the godless communist Chinese government is. They lied about the disease, covered it up, suppressed and imprisoned truth-tellers, and outrageously suggested the Chinese virus was an American conspiracy. This is an evil regime, plain and simple. To be clear, the adversary here is the action of the Chinese Communist Party, not the people of China.
“America must now fundamentally reset our relationship with China. This is no time for half-measures or a slap on the wrist. This Chinese-made global health crisis should be a wake-up call. China is lying and people are dying. Enough is enough."
Sessions said China went as far as to suppress doctors, even putting one in jail, and blocked news reports of what was happening. He noted a study, cited by the New York Times, that reported had the Chinese reported the virus three weeks sooner, 95 percent of the world's infections would not have occurred.
"Communist tendency to suppress the truth has resulted in one of the greatest calamities in history," he said.
He said Chinese leaders usually deny making errors and blame others, eventually wearing people down. "People roll their eyes at the lies, but the world goes on and nothing changes," he said.
Part of power the Chinese have held has been over concerns in the West of disrupting trade with China, which has manufactured goods and parts as part of an expanding global economy. "They threaten American industry and economic interests and people say, 'Let's forget it and move on and quit talking about it.' They usually ride out their wrongdoing," he said.
The Times said China has blamed local bureaucrats for the virus spread. The Times indicated the system was manipulated and burdened with narrow reporting standards and additional local people to report to. Bloomberg said China has changed its methodology repeatedly and others have been skeptical of Chinese figures it reports.
However, Sessions said the virus is so big that it is time for people to know the truth, he said, calling for a select congressional committee to investigate China on the virus. He called for that committee to be put in action quickly so that Americans can find out what happened.
Session said the U.S. must stop bring so dependent on China, saying that the Chinese first want to dominate in business - and then with the military, gaining information that could be used for both goals. He said the trade surplus it has with the U.S. is giving it funds to build new military systems, adding that without American markets, China would be in recession.
"For too long, big business elites in Washington and on Wall Street have cozied up to the Chinese because it made them rich, while thousands of Americans lost their jobs," Sessions said in a release.
He said Tuesday China should be held accountable on a host of issues where he said they have been untruthful, have intimidated businesses and have hacked computer systems to obtain confidential information. He said Americans have to deny that it is a fair trading relationship, adding the Chinese should reform or be made to "suffer consequences."
He said standing up to the Chinese will be a long effort, but if the U.S. stands firm it will prevail.
"We are not doomed to be unable to compete with China," he said. "We're betting on America - our freedom, our technology, our free markets will prevail over government-dominated economies."
He said there is no reason the U.S. and other nations could not produce high tech systems here that the Chinese produce. He said federal officials feel it is unthinkable that China is helping to supply American high-speed internet systems, giving them a chance to gain valuable intelligence.
Sessions said Chinese also produce most of the antibiotics used in the U.S., and have threatened to withhold them. "We could easily make that here," he said, saying it would be inexpensive to do so.
Student immigration from China should be looked at, he said, explaining experts have said that system has been abused for gaining sensitive technology.
Asked about reports Chinese Americans have already been bullied and threatened in the wake of use of the term "Chinese virus" and the origin of the virus, Sessions noted hundreds of thousands of "Chinese-American patriots" reside in the U.S. and that he was not critical of the Chinese people, but of the Chinese government.
"We do need to be careful good people are not implicated," he said, adding the government there is not run by the people but is a tightly run Communist leadership. "Christians are persecuted relentlessly," while the Chinese government is "relentlessly atheist. They reject people of faith.
Asked for a comment, Tuberville campaign manager Paul Shashy said in a brief statement, "Career Politician Jeff Sessions has held public office for more than 40 years, and he has done nothing to rein in China, so why should we count on him to do anything now? Just like he abandoned President Trump when he was needed most, Jeff Sessions will cut and run when the going gets tough if Alabamians let him reclaim his seat in the swamp."