GOP Senator Proposes Bill to Block American Companies From 'Giving in' to China

Republican Senator John Kennedy said he is working on legislation to prohibit American companies from "giving in" to Chinese government rules on doing business.

The Louisiana senator--who earlier this year introduced the CONFUCIUS Act aimed at reducing Chinese influence on U.S. campuses--said in a Fox News interview Sunday that he is drafting legislation to prevent U.S. companies from conducting business in China. He agreed with U.S. Attorney General William Barr's comments last week that U.S. companies routinely agree to censor films and conduct business under the authoritarian rules of the Chinese Communist Party.

"The Chinese people are wonderful people, but their government--the Communist Party of China--is comprised of a bunch of outlaws. They are bullies, they understand only strength. If you're too nice to them, if you turn the other cheek, they just stab you in the neck," the GOP senator said during his appearance on Sunday Morning Futures.

"I'm working on a bill which will prohibit American companies from giving in to this bullying by the Communist Party of China. It would say basically if you give in to them, you violate American law. It's a delicate bill to draft but we're working on it. Barr's right," Kennedy continued.

Speaking at the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum last week, Barr warned U.S. corporate executives against making deals with the Chinese government. He accused Cisco, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and Disney by name as guilty of "bowing" to the communist leadership. "The ultimate ambition of China's rulers isn't to trade with the United States it is to raid the United States. If you are an American business leader, appeasing the PRC may bring short-term rewards but in the end the PRC's goal is to replace you," Barr cautioned.

Kennedy, who also chairs the Senate subcomittee on Financial Services and General Government, ridiculed the National Basketball Association (NBA) for making any and all concessions China wants in order to promote business overseas.

"The NBA leadership is so greedy, so anxious to do business in China that they do whatever the Chinese Communist Party tells them to do. If the party told the leadership of the NBA to join the Taliban, the NBA leadership would say 'where's the line?'" the Louisiana senator said, calling the NBA the "poster child" for U.S. companies selling out American values.

Newsweek reached out to both Kennedy's office and the NBA for additional remarks over the potential legislation aimed at restricting business with Chinese consumers.

In March, Kennedy introduced and the Senate later passed the Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States (CONFUCIUS) Act, which threatens to eliminate federal funding to schools with Chinese government partnerships.

"The Chinese Communist Party has rooted its propaganda in college campuses all over the U.S. We must return power to American students and teachers through the CONFUCIUS Act, which the Senate passed unanimously. Because of Reps. Donna Shalala and Anthony Gonzalez, the House now has the chance to do the same," Kennedy said of the CONFUCIUS Act, which has not proceeded forward in the House.

Last week, Kennedy thanked India and its prime minister, Narendra Modi, for "standing up" to China over a border dispute. He encouraged countries around the world to reject the leadership of a "bunch of thugs" led by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Kennedy's tough talk on China comes as the Trump administration continues to enact trade restrictions against the world's second-largest economy. Earlier this month, Trump signed the Hong Kong Act in response to Beijing's crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the formerly autonomous territory.

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Republican Senator and financial services chair John Kennedy said Sunday he is drafting legislation to prohibit American companies from "giving in" to Chinese government rules on doing business. KEVIN FRAYER / Stringer/Getty Images
GOP Senator Proposes Bill to Block American Companies From 'Giving in' to China | Business