By Caitlin McFall

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that China has weaponized America’s own “corporate lust for profits” against the U.S.

In a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Rubio said, “It is time to wake up” and look at corporate America’s reliance on the Chinese Communist Party.

“U.S. corporations are so desperate to have access to the Chinese market that they’ll lead costly boycotts in an American state that passes a law that they don’t like,” Rubio said. “American companies have actually fired Americans who live in America for saying or writing something that China doesn’t like.”

Rubio pointed to several instances where American businesses fired employees, removed certain articles of clothing from U.S. shelves, and severed ties to other U.S. businesses due to CCP pressure. 

The Florida Republican warned that China’s threat to U.S. interests expands beyond corporate control and amounts to the “biggest illegal wealth transfer from one nation to another in the history of mankind.”

“The long arm of China is not some futuristic threat, it’s already here,” Rubio said. “China is stealing between $300 and $600 billion a year of American technology and intellectual property.”

The senator said that security concerns coming out of China amount to more than cyber and technological-based threats. China’s influence affects Hollywood, university research, industrial policies, and startup companies, he warned.

“Today the Chinese Communist Party has more control over what Americans can say, what we can hear, what we can read, what we can watch than any foreign government has ever had in our history,” Rubio told lawmakers.

The Florida senator introduced two bills Wednesday that seek to bar U.S. banks from lending to projects controlled by the Chinese government and to otherwise counter CCP influence in the U.S.

The Trump administration took steps to counter threats coming from China and limited how Chinese companies could operate in the U.S. The previous administration renegotiated trade deals and barred telecommunications companies suspected of malign activity — like Huawei — from conducting business in the U.S. or with any American companies.

The Biden administration has taken its own measures to counter China. The administration accused the Chinese government of direct involvement in an attack on Microsoft’s Exchange email server software last month.

Rubio and other lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee repeatedly emphasized that their concerns solely lie with the CCP and not with the Chinese people or Chinese Americans. 

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