Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed two bills designed to curb foreign influence from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and other foreign entities in state agencies and educational institutions. This legislation could be a significant step towards preventing foreign interests from manipulating U.S. policy.
“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,” DeSantis said while addressing reporters at the Florida National Guard Robert A. Ballard Armory in Miami.
The governor continued, explaining that foreign actors will not be able to infiltrate Florida’s institutions. “Not the Communist Party of China, not Russia, not Cuba, not North Korea, not Iran, not Syria, not Venezuela. In fact, the first bill signed today safeguards our public institutions from undue foreign influence, and that means prohibiting agreements between public entities and the Communist Party of China or Cuba or any of these other malignant forces,” he said.
One of the bills, called the “Combating Corporate Espionage in Florida Act,” will result in second-degree felony charges for “trafficking in trade secrets.” Individuals discovered to have sold trade secrets to foreign governments would be facing a first-degree felony.
The other piece of legislation would require entities soliciting grants or contracts from the state to report receiving gifts “from any foreign source” that exceeds $50,000.
Both bills were unanimously passed in the state legislature.
According to Tampa Bay Times:
People and entities seeking grants or contracts from the state of more than $100,000 will be required to disclose contracts, donations or grants linking them to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria.
State universities and other entities with research budgets of $10 million or more also will have to create an “international travel approval and monitoring program” under the measure.
The new legislation would also ban entities like Confucius Institutes on universities. DeSantis also explained that the bill “also makes sure we don’t make deals with private companies that are closely tied to these adversaries” and would ensure that foreign entities seeking to engage with higher learning institutions are “fully vetted.”
DeSantis took aim at the Chinese Communist Party during the briefing, criticizing the government for its lack of transparency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said:
If you look at what’s gone on now with the coronavirus pandemic and the coverup 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 the lab where these scientists were working very closely with the Community Party of China as well as the Chinese military. When you had these folks fall ill who were 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. … The world has had to endure over a year-and-a-half of a lot of bad stuff as a result of this.
The governor also slammed the activist media and entertainment industry for essentially aiding and abetting the Chinese government’s coverup.
“You look at corporate media and entertainment industry in this country. They are in the pocket of the Communist Party of China. I mean, if Hollywood comes up with a movie the CCP doesn’t like, they get censored,” DeSantis said.
Well, at least someone is trying to push back against China’s shameless attempts to infiltrate and influence the United States through corporations and universities. It is an issue that many Republicans and even some Democrats have decried over the years, but it appears that there are not enough leaders who are willing to do something about it. We certainly can’t depend on the Biden administration, which seems intent on protecting and appeasing the CCP rather than standing up to it.
Unfortunately, this seems to be another issue that will persist until President Joe Biden and his merry band of Democrats are out of office. But, as in all things, one must wonder: Will the Republicans handle this issue any better if they manage to regain power?