Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed two bills into law on Monday that largely were crafted with the intent of taking action against communist China while Democrat President Joe Biden has been at best so-so when it comes to confronting America’s largest enemy.
DeSantis signed two bills at a press conference on Monday that aimed to stop the spread of foreign influence in the state and to strengthen penalties against those convicted of espionage. DeSantis also gave a fiery speech, which is featured later on in this report, where he lambasted China and called them an “adversary,” something Biden has refused to do.
The first bill, HB 7017, specifically mentions China while the second bill, HB 1523 (Combatting Corporate Espionage in Florida Act), does not. However, DeSantis repeatedly gave examples that specifically referred to China while he was discussing the need for HB 1523.
Highlights of HB 7017 include:
- Strengthens foreign financial connection vetting and disclosure requirements for entities seeking tax-payer funded grants or contracts from state agencies or political subdivisions.
- Creates heightened scrutiny of research grant applicants, foreign applicants for research positions, and foreign travel or activities of employees of major research institutions.
- Requires universities and colleges to disclose foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the State University System Board of Governors or Department of Education. State agencies and political subdivisions are required to report foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services.
- Prohibits specific agreements between state/public entities and the seven countries of concern (Russia, PRC, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela).
Highlights of HB 1523 (Combatting Corporate Espionage in Florida Act):
- Creates new criminal offenses in Florida for the theft and trafficking of trade secrets.
- Anyone who willfully and without authorization steals or attempts to steal a trade secret and use it for their own benefit will now face a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Individuals attempting to sell stolen trade secrets will face a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison
- If an individual or entity violates this law on behalf of a foreign government, the penalties are severely enhanced — reclassifying the felony one degree higher and increasing the offense severity ranking.
DeSantis did not mince words on his thoughts about communist China during a fiery speech that he delivered before he signed the bills. DeSantis warned that China has infiltrated nearly every industry in the U.S. and is trying to shape U.S. policy and culture while stealing American trade secrets. DeSantis also blamed the pandemic squarely on China and repeatedly mentioned China’s deception and talked about the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The following are three lengthy excerpts of DeSantis’ remarks targeting China (video featured below):
- “We’re here today to sign two important pieces of legislation into law. And the goal of these bills is to stop, combat nefarious foreign influence and corporate espionage in Florida. If you look at what’s gone on now, with the coronavirus pandemic, and the cover up of the origins of COVID-19, it’s pretty clear that this was a virus that almost assuredly leaked out of this lab in Wuhan. This is a lab where these scientists were working very closely with the Communist Party of China, as well as the Chinese military. When you had these folks fall ill who are working in that lab last fall, the Communist Party of China decided to cover it up. They didn’t give any information out. They didn’t ask for any assistance. They didn’t give a heads up to anybody. They tried to cover it up. And basically, the world has had to endure over a year and a half of a lot of bad stuff as a result of this. So they covered it up. And they need to be held accountable for this.”
- “And so I think what this has exposed is you do have relationships between a lot of these institutions in China, particularly in the research realm, and bureaucrats in the United States. You have a whole bunch of other institutions and so our bills today, focus on foreign influence writ large … the seven countries that are identified specifically, of course, the Communist Party of China, but yes, communist Cuba, Venezuela, all those and it’s all very important. But I think if you look right now, there is no single entity that exercises a more pervasive, nefarious influence across a wide range of American industries and institutions than the Communist Party of China. Academia in the United States, is permeated with influence. And I’ll go through some of the people, you have researchers getting indicted, this is very common to see researchers at major institutions, including in Florida, and also around the country, getting indicted for being in cahoots with the Chinese government. You look at corporate media, in the entertainment industry in this country, they are in the pocket of the Communist Party of China. I mean, if the Hollywood comes up with a movie that the CCP doesn’t like that gets censored, they are not going to run afoul of that orthodoxy. You look at corporate media in this country, they were on the vanguard of trying to suppress the truth about the lab leak theory, they’ve got deep financial ties to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. And we just have to call it for what it is. Big tech also runs interference for the Communist Party of China. You know, people were trying to search for the Tank Man in Tiananmen Square on Bing recently, and it had no results came up. That’s very curious. Microsoft’s, ‘Oh, was just an oversight, it was a mistake or whatever,’ really? That’s a pretty convenient mistake to have. But you see time and time again, the big tech giants, it seems like when they put their thumb on the scale, they’re almost always putting their thumb on the scale in favor of protecting the Communist Party of China. And of course, in the United States, major celebrities, athletes and business leaders will frequently virtue signal regarding the latest crusade, or cause de jour that they have about things in the United States. And yet, almost every one of them falls silent when it comes to calling out the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party. And so all we are doing today is saying, enough is enough. We’ve got to start fighting back. And so the state of Florida is doing that.”
- “We knew that we needed to stand up, we knew that we needed to start taking a stand against this, because it’s really gotten out of hand. And I really hope that we’re going to have accountability for the origins of the COVID pandemic, because this just, this did not need to happen. And yes, the Chinese Communist Party is primarily to blame. But there’s also American money that very well may have flown to Wuhan, there were U.S. bureaucrats who were involved at a minimum of trying to divert attention away from the true origins. And so all of those folks need to be held accountable. And I do think China, what we’re doing here as a state level is important, it’s significant. But there’s much more that needs to be done to be able to combat CCP influence within the United States.”
Biden has avoided questions about punishing China for the pandemic while his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has suggested that the Biden administration will not punish China for it. The White House recently dodged numerous questions about holding China accountable for the pandemic, questions that arose after Biden announced that he ordered the Intelligence Community to redouble its efforts in investigating the origins of the pandemic. The announcement was made after Biden faced severe backlash for shutting down an investigation by the Trump administration into the origins of the pandemic.
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said earlier this year that he was “concerned” about Biden’s China policies because they were “not supported by our current intelligence and the threat landscape and things can’t have changed that much for some of the policy decisions that he’s advocating for.”
Biden has been slow to call out China for engaging in cybercrimes against U.S. companies and his administration was humiliated on U.S. soil by Chinese officials. Biden has also faced criticism over his recent budget proposal by critics who say that it does not do enough to keep pace with China.
Biden has also faced intense criticism for its decision to endorse a patent waiver for coronavirus vaccines that were developed by U.S. companies.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board wrote:
In one fell swoop he has destroyed tens of billions of dollars in U.S. intellectual property, set a destructive precedent that will reduce pharmaceutical investment, and surrendered America’s advantage in biotech, a key growth industry of the future. Handed an American triumph of innovation and a great soft-power opportunity, Mr. Biden throws it all away. …
Thanks to Mr. Biden, all this could become the property of foreign governments. Licensing agreements allow developers to share their IP while maintaining quality control. Breaking patents and forcing tech transfers will enable China and low-income countries to manufacture U.S. biotech products on their own.
China’s current crop of vaccines are far less effective than those in the West, but soon Beijing might be able to purvey Pfizer knock-offs. The U.S. has spent years deploring China’s theft of American IP, and now the Biden Administration may voluntarily let China could reap profits from decades of American innovation.
Numerous Republican Senators demanded that Biden reverse course on giving away American innovation to China.
“At best, all President Biden’s giveaway to China and India and others will do is foster uncoordinated vaccine nationalism, as countries jump in to try to coerce technology transfer and manufacturing locally,” the senators wrote. “At worst, this action will provide a boost to the Chinese Communist Party’s ‘vaccine diplomacy’ and enable Beijing to undercut American leadership on vaccine distribution throughout the developing world.”
“It is not surprising that China, India, and South Africa want to steal our intellectual property and medical technology,” the senators continued. “What is surprising is that an American president, especially one who claims to be a ‘jobs’ president, would force American companies to give their medical technology and manufacturing processes to foreign adversaries like China. Simply put, the Biden Administration’s support for a TRIPS waiver puts America’s interests last and China’s interests first.”