SALT LAKE CITY — A bipartisan group of senators, including Utah Republican Mitt Romney, want the Trump administration to counter “disturbing” reports that China’s state-owned enterprises are exploiting the economic crisis by buying U.S. and foreign companies.
As companies backed by the Chinese Communist Party approach banks to identify the purchase of companies in the U.S. and Europe affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the senators urged Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to guard against China’s “predatory” economic activity.
“It was important six months ago, remains important today, and must continue to be a U.S. priority in the future,” the senators wrote in a letter Thursday.
The senators expressed concerns that China is trying to gain control of distressed companies or shirking its international responsibilities amid a worldwide crisis. Beijing has made no secret of its intentions to dominate strategic industrial and emerging technology sectors as well as influence standards at the expense of liberal, rules-based governance, according to the senators.
In addition to Romney, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio, of Florida, Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, John Cornyn, of Texas, and Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, and Democrat Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, signed the letter.
Romney, who calls China one of the biggest threats to the U.S., also introduced legislation with Democratic co-sponsors aimed at protecting the economy and national security.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Act would help ensure the U.S. government and Congress are prepared to face the multiple challenges posed by China, according to Romney and co-sponsors Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Romney said the bill puts safeguards in place to confront the “critical” threat China poses. He has accused China of “cheating” and “stealing” American jobs. China, he said, has moved from currency manipulation to intellectual property theft to combat the U.S. economically.
The senator has also called on the National Security Council to counter the Chinese government’s “sinister propaganda” about the origins of the coronavirus.