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Coronavirus

Floor Speech

By: Ted Cruz
By: Ted Cruz
Date: Dec. 18, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CRUZ. The good news is that our Democratic colleagues are finally discovering that the Chinese Communists are not our friends. They are finally acknowledging that the Chinese Communists are murdering, torturing, oppressive tyrants, and our Democratic colleagues are likewise discovering that Hong Kong is a beacon for democracy and a beacon for liberty. That is, indeed, good news.

The bad news is, the bill that they have put forth is not designed to do anything about it. This is not a Hong Kong bill. It is, instead, a Democratic messaging bill because House Democrats made, I think, a cynical decision to try to exploit the crisis in Hong Kong to advance their longstanding goals of changing our immigration laws.

It is not news to anyone who has been watching the political battles of recent years to discover that our Democratic colleagues embrace open borders; that when it comes to illegal immigration, their preference is to make all immigration legal. This bill advances that longtime partisan political agenda that the Democrats have.

When it comes to standing up for Communist China, for 8 years I have led the fight in this Senate to stand up to Communist China. China is, I believe, the single greatest geopolitical threat facing the United States for the next century.

In October of last year, I traveled to Hong Kong as part of a friends and allies tour throughout Asia, met with the Hong Kong dissidents-- those brave, young students standing in the streets, standing for freedom, and standing up against Chinese tyrants. I did a satellite interview on an American Sunday show from Hong Kong dressed in all black in solidarity with those protesters because Hong Kong today is, as I have said many times, the new Berlin. It is the frontline in the battle against Communist tyranny.

This bill, however, is not designed to fix that problem. Right now, today, under current law, individuals in Hong Kong are already eligible to become refugees under our immigration law. In fact, in July, President Trump explicitly expanded the number of refugee slots available and allocated them to Hong Kong. This bill, instead, is designed and would dramatically lower the standards for both refugee and asylum status to the point where individuals would qualify even if they cannot establish an individualized and credible fear of persecution.

The Senator from Connecticut just listed that as a virtue of this bill--that no longer would you have to establish a credible fear of persecution; instead, this bill would dramatically lower that standard. There is no reason to lower that standard, and there is particular risk when doing so, we know, would be used by the Chinese Communists to send even more Chinese spies into the United States.

The Senator from Connecticut assured us: Well, don't worry. We will do a background check.

Well, the last I checked, when the Chinese Communist Government sends spies into our country, they are quite willing to concoct a bogus background portfolio of materials. Who do you think the Chinese Government would be seeing coming in? We just recently had news of Chinese spies targeting Members of Congress--targeting prominent Democrats. This is an espionage threat America faces of our adversaries taking advantage of our laws and targeting our leadership.

The truth also is that China has confiscated passports and, I am told, stopped issuing exit visas to persons deemed problematic. As a result, China is highly unlikely to let actual dissidents leave Hong Kong, so this bill isn't directed to help them.

But I will say this: We urgently need to have a real, substantive, bipartisan conversation about countering the Chinese Communist Party, about defending the United States of America, about standing up and winning this battle. This bill doesn't advance that objective, but what I am going to do is I am going to give our Democratic colleagues the opportunity to actually support legislation that would stand up to China.

So, momentarily, I am going to ask unanimous consent for one bill and discuss a second bill that I also later intend to ask unanimous consent to pass.

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Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, my colleague from Connecticut just said that they were being tough on China. As I explained, this bill is not being tough on China.

But a bit of good news: They will have the opportunity, moments from now, to in fact be tough on China. I have introduced, roughly, a dozen separate pieces of legislation designed to do exactly that, to stand up to the Chinese Communist Government. I am glad also to see my Democratic colleagues discovering the human rights travesties that are playing out in China.

Look, my family knows the oppression of Communist governments. My father was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. My aunt, my Tia Sonia, was imprisoned and tortured by Fidel Castro's thugs. So, when it comes for standing for dissidents, there is a reason why, for 8 years, I have gone to the Senate floor over and over and over again speaking up for dissidents who are being tortured and oppressed by Communists. Here is a chance for the Democrats to join us in that regard.

Mr. President, there are two separate bills that I have introduced that I am going to discuss. The first is a bill called the SCRIPT Act.

For years, we have known that China's surveillance state and censorship practices are used to maintain its human rights violations. And what this devastating pandemic has shown us is that China's surveillance state and its censorship practices are also profound threats to our national security, to our public health, and to our public debate, as the Chinese Government hid information about the COVID-19 pandemic that began in Wuhan, China, hid it for months on end and allowed millions across the globe to be threatened--their lives and health and safety to be threatened.

In addition to their espionage activities, the Chinese Communist Party invests billions into spreading propaganda, even using American media outlets, telecommunication infrastructure, movies, and sports teams to spread their propaganda, from buying media outlets so that they broadcast propaganda into America to coercing Hollywood studios and sports leagues to self-sensor by threatening to cut off access to one of the world's largest markets. The Chinese Communist Party spends billions and billions of dollars to mislead Americans about China and to try to shape what we see, what we hear and think.

All of these activities are part of China's whole-of-state approach to amass influence around the world through information warfare, and we need to stand together to stop it.

That is why I will be momentarily asking for unanimous consent on the SCRIPT Act, which would cut off Hollywood studios from the assistance they currently receive from the U.S. Federal Government if those studios allow the Chinese Communist Government to sensor what they are producing.

We have seen this pattern over and over and over again--Hollywood being complicit in China's censorship and propaganda in the name of bigger profit. ``Bohemian Rhapsody,'' a wonderful biography of Freddie Mercury and story of the band Queen--well, the Chinese Government was upset that Freddie Mercury was homosexual and demanded that Hollywood sensor scenes that showed that Freddie Mercury was homosexual. And Hollywood--those great, woke social warriors that they are--compliantly said: We are more interested in the money than in artistic integrity, than in telling Freddie Mercury's story, so the Chinese Government will happily edit out those scenes.

``Doctor Strange,'' another movie--comic book movie--in ``Doctor Strange,'' they changed the Ancient One's character from being from Tibet, which is how it is portrayed in the comic book, to Celtic because, you know, the Chinese Communist censors, they don't want to recognize Tibet--another area that has been subject to persecution and oppression from China--and Hollywood meekly complied.

In the sequel to ``Top Gun,'' the back of Maverick's jacket--if you remember the first ``Top Gun,'' maybe the greatest Navy recruiting film ever made--you find the Taiwanese flag and the Japanese flag. The Chinese censors didn't like that, and so Hollywood meekly removed the flags. What does it say to the world when Maverick is scared of the Chinese Communists?

I would point out, unfortunately, the Chinese censorship is being carried out by Hollywood billionaires who are getting richer in the process.

In recent days, it has been reported that one of Joe Biden's top potential choices to be Ambassador to China is the former CEO of Disney, who happens to be a major Democratic donor. Disney just came out with the movie ``Mulan.'' In the movie ``Mulan,'' which the director described as ``a love letter to China''--well, this love letter wasn't subtle because right in the credits at the end of ``Mulan,'' they thanked oppressive government forces that are running concentration camps right now, with over 1 million Uighurs imprisoned. Disney gleefully thanked the jackbooted thugs who are carrying out torture and murder, and apparently the leader of that effort is one of the top candidates to be America's Ambassador to China.

The Senator from Illinois and the Senator from Connecticut said: ``We need to stand with people who are oppressed.'' I agree.

Look, Hollywood could say whatever they want, but there is no reason the Federal Government should facilitate their censorship on behalf of the Chinese Communists. The SCRIPT Act says: If you are going to let the Chinese Communists censor your movies, you are not going to get access to the jet planes and to the ships and all the different material of the Federal Government that are used in movies.

Moments ago, the Senator from Connecticut said they want to be tough on China. Well, we are about to see how tough they are on China.

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Mr. CRUZ. I will happily yield for a question.

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Mr. CRUZ. The Senator from Illinois asked a question. Let me tell you how it provides solace--because people who are in hell holes, they listen to what we are saying. People who are in hell holes, they hear the voice--you know, some time ago, I had the chance to sit down with Natan Sharansky, the famed Soviet dissident. He and I sat down and visited in Jerusalem. Natan told me about how, when he was in a Soviet gulag, that in the cells, from cell to cell, they would pass notes: Did you hear what Ronald Reagan said? The Soviet Union is an evil empire. Marxism-Leninism will end up on the ash heap of history. ``Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.''

And I will tell you how people here--because if the Senator from Illinois will remember, I introduced legislation to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in the United States ``Liu Xiaobo Plaza,'' after Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace laureate who was--let me finish answering your question. If you want to propound a second one, I am happy to answer that one too. Liu Xiaobo was the Nobel Peace laureate wrongfully imprisoned in China. And the strategy of renaming the street in front of the Embassy is the strategy Reagan employed renaming the street in front of the Soviet Embassy ``Sakharov Plaza.''

Twice I stood on this floor seeking unanimous consent, and twice a Democrat--the senior Senator from California--stood up and objected. At one point, the senior Senator from California said: Well, if we do this, it will embarrass the Chinese Government.

I responded: You are understanding correctly. And that is not a bug; it is a feature. That is the purpose.

Let me tell you what happened to that. Twice, Democrats objected to the legislation. I then placed a hold on President Obama's nominees to the State Department.

The Obama administration came to me and said: How could we move these nominees forward? How could we move them forward?

I said: It is very simple. Pass my legislation, and I will lift the hold.

The Democratic caucus didn't like that, but they ultimately agreed. So the legislation I introduced to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy ``Liu Xiaobo Plaza'' passed this body unanimously.

Ultimately, the House didn't take it up and pass it, but I will tell you how that story ends. That story ends in 2017 when I was sitting down with Rex Tillerson for breakfast in Foggy Bottom--the new U.S. Secretary of State. When he spoke to his Chinese counterparts, he said: They have come back and said that among their top three diplomatic objectives with us is to stop your bill to rename the street in front of the Embassy. They are terrified by the sunlight and sunshine on the dissidents.

At the time, Liu Xiaobo had passed, but his widow, Liu Xia, was still in China, still wrongfully held back. I told Secretary of State Tillerson: I will tell you what. You tell the Chinese that if they release Liu Xia, if they let her get out, I will stop pressing this particular bill. If they don't, I will keep pressing it, and we will pass it again because we have already done it.

Within weeks, China released Liu Xia.

So you ask, how does this help the people in prison? By not having Hollywood media moguls spreading Chinese propaganda.

But let me give you a second choice, very directly. Do you want to know how people are helped? It is a second bill called the SHAME Act, which, if our Democratic colleagues want to be tough on China, we could pass right now.

What does the SHAME Act do? The SHAME Act focuses in particular on human rights atrocities. It focuses on over 1 million Uighurs in concentration camps and other religious minorities and the Falun Gong practitioners who are captured and murdered and whose organs are harvested. And the Chinese Communist Party engages in yet another horror.

My Democratic colleagues like to say on the question of abortion that they are pro-choice. Well, the Chinese Communist government right now is engaging in forced sterilizations and forced abortions, taking Uighur mothers and forcing them to abort their children against their will.

Whatever the Democrats' views on abortion in the United States as a matter of a woman's choice, surely they must be united in saying that a government forcing a woman to abort her child, to take the life of her unborn child, is an unspeakable atrocity.

So the SHAME Act does something very simple: It imposes sanctions on the Chinese Communist government leaders responsible for implementing this horrific, 1984-style policy of forced sterilizations and forced abortions.

I had intended to seek unanimous consent for the SHAME Act as well, but my Democratic colleagues have said they are not yet able to find a Democrat to object, although my understanding is they intend to. I hope they reconsider that.

A terrific ending for today's debate would be passing the SHAME Act and saying: We are all standing together against forced abortions and grotesque human rights violations. Maybe that will happen. Maybe it won't. But let's find out where we are on the question of the SCRIPT Act.

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Mr. CRUZ. If the Senator from Connecticut--I have not yet yielded the floor. I am about to ask unanimous consent, so--

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Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs be discharged from further consideration of S. 3835 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration; further, that this bill be considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

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Mr. CRUZ. Three brief observations: No. 1, the Senator from Connecticut said multiple times that the House bill in question passed the House unanimously. I am sure this is inadvertent, but what the Senator from Connecticut said is simply wrong. It passed the House by voice vote, which is a very different thing from passing unanimously. It simply means the vote tally was not recorded.

Secondly, the Senator from Connecticut said the SCRIPT Act is not going to pass this Congress.

So the only reason the SCRIPT Act isn't passing is because the Senate Democrats are objecting. And it should not be lost on anybody that the Hollywood billionaires who are enriching themselves with this Chinese propaganda are among the biggest political donors to today's Democratic Party in the entire country.

The Senator from Connecticut said: Well, the SCRIPT Act might make it possible to have documentaries on the human rights abuses in China. Oh, really. That argument staggers the mind. It so defies reality because-- you know what--Hollywood doesn't make movies about the human rights abuses in China.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet Richard Gear. Now, Richard Gear is not someone you would ordinarily imagine palling around with a conservative Republican from Texas, but Richard Gear was up here. He was up here actually standing up against Chinese abuses and urging anyone who would listen--Republican or Democrat--to stand with him.

Do you know Richard Gear has not made a single major Hollywood movie in a decade? Why? Because he dared stand with Tibet, and the Hollywood billionaires blackballed Richard Gear. If you speak out for Tibet, if you do what the Senator from Connecticut just suggested and discuss the Chinese human rights abuses--it doesn't matter that Richard Gear used to be an A-list Hollywood blockbuster actor--boom--his career is dead because no studio will produce a movie with him because he spoke the truth.

By the way, my bill presents zero barriers to someone actually making a documentary on the human rights abuses in China because, presumably, if you are making that documentary, you wouldn't allow the Chinese Communist Government to censor it.

I don't know what kind of documentaries the Senator from Connecticut is familiar with, but I am not familiar with documentaries done on tyrants and concentration camps where you let the concentration camp guards edit out the stuff they don't like. That ain't a documentary.

The Senator from Connecticut said perhaps we can work together in a bipartisan manner to address this. I hope so. Standing together against the oppression of the Chinese Communists would be a very good thing for the U.S. Senate. It would be a very good thing for our country. Unfortunately, at least today, that hasn't yet happened.

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Mr. CRUZ. Thank you. Unanimous Consent Request--S. Res. 806

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