Comer calls out Chinese infiltration of American society, country’s involvement in drug crisis

China’s muted effort to help combat the fentanyl crisis is just one of the aspects of influence the House Oversight Committee plans to investigate.

Published: March 27, 2024 11:00pm

Updated: March 27, 2024 11:37pm

The committee chairman leading a wide-ranging House oversight investigation into Chinese influence called out the communist country’s infiltration of the United States through technology, drugs, and strategic acquisitions on Wednesday, providing insight into the direction of his new investigation.

“China has infiltrated just about every major part of our federal government, they've infiltrated our economy. Our objective is to counter this infiltration and dismantle it. This is something that I don't think the average American realizes the extent to which China has infiltrated all of our major institutions,” House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer told Just the News on Wednesday.

“They've infiltrated our university system. We know about TikTok and the indoctrination programs that China has tried to successfully wage against our young people, but they’ve also infiltrated many corporate boards through outside groups that are pushing agendas that, honestly, put America last and China first. So this is of the utmost importance, and it's going to be a priority for the Oversight Committee moving forward,” he added.

Comer was one of several experts to participate in a Just the News television special on China’s threat to the United States that was sponsored by the Association of Mature Americans Citizens and co-hosted by AMAC CEO Rebecca Weber.

You can watch the full show here.

Earlier this month, Comer announced he was launching a government-wide investigation into the People’s Republic of China and its efforts to infiltrate and influence the U.S. government and American society.

“Without firing a single bullet, the Chinese Communist Party is waging war against the U.S. by targeting, influencing, and infiltrating every economic sector and community in America,” Comer said in a statement.

“We know that this coordinated influence and infiltration campaign by the CCP threatens U.S. military readiness, the technology sector, financial markets, agriculture industry, education systems, and intellectual property,” he added.

This investigation comes at a time when Americans are growing increasingly skeptical of China. Recently, negative opinions of the communist country have reached new highs in public surveys. Both the Trump and Biden administrations, to differing degrees, have responded to this sentiment by enacting policies to show a tough stance on China, including tariffs and export bans.

Chairman Comer specifically warned against the threat posed by Chinese involvement in the illegal fentanyl trade in the United States, a fact that has been highlighted by government agencies, authors, and journalists for years but has seen little successful action by lawmakers or executives.

China’s muted cooperation to combat the crisis is just one part of the Chairman’s multi-pronged investigation, but the most immediately deadly—with fentanyl killing approximately 75,000 Americans per year, more than double the rate from 2019, according to CDC data published by The Economist.

“There's no question this is a deliberate effort to dismantle the United States, essentially, in warfare without ever filing firing a shot. This is a new tactic in warfare. The Chinese are infiltrating every community in America whether it's a big city or small town where I live with with fentanyl,” Comer told Just the News.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says that several fentanyl precursor chemicals are freely advertised and sold online, either directly into the United States or to criminal organizations in Mexico—the cartels.

“DEA alleges that [transnational criminal organizations] use largely PRC-sourced chemicals to synthesize fentanyl substances in clandestine laboratories, and often mix xylazine and nitazenes into fentanyl-related products, making the substances ‘even deadlier,' before distributing them across North America,” the Congressional Research Service reported in a February memo.

China’s large financial institutions have been implicated in this process by laundering cartel and criminal organization profits garnered from fentanyl sales in the United States.

In its February 2022 National Money Laundering Risk Assessment, the U.S. Department of the Treasury highlighted one scheme by Chinese money launderers to serve as a transaction hub for cartel profits. The launderers would take dollars from the cartels and pay them back in pesos, taking a commission. From there, the intermediary would sell the dollars to Chinese expatriates to spend in the United States, receiving payment through internal, mobile Chinese bank transfers.

Comer also criticized the Biden administration for being soft on China when it comes to pressuring the country, especially over the use of its financial institutions in the money laundering cycle.

“And this is this is unacceptable and to think that we have an administration that is this soft on China and allows China to continue to destroy our young people—I mean, they are focused on on the young people in America, they’re focused on it through their disinformation campaign and indoctrination campaigns with TikTok, they're focused on it through getting young people addicted to fentanyl, and crystal meth and the other drugs that they're pushing across the border,” Comer said.

“So hopefully, this committee could shed a light on that and call people out in the administration… who are allowing this to happen,” he continued.

In his most recent State of the Union address President Joe Biden promised to do more to combat the fentanyl crisis, which has continued to worsen, despite the rate of increase of deaths slowing in recent years.

“But there’s more to do to pass my Unity Agenda,” Biden said in his address to Congress earlier this month. “Strengthen penalties on fentanyl trafficking,” he added.

The president also criticized House Republicans for failing to pass the compromise border bill, which he argues would have provided sufficient funding to stop fentanyl smuggling vehicles from crossing the border.

Yet, Biden failed to make the apparent link between the country’s fentanyl crisis and China.

The address came months after new developments in the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and China, especially on fentanyl cooperation. In January, the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) held the inaugural meeting of a new counternarcotics working group with the mission to coordinate the manufacturing and trafficking of illicit drugs.

The PRC and the United States agreed to resume cooperation after China had suspended its participation for a year prior. The new verbal agreement came after a key meeting between President Biden and Chairman Xi Jinping last year in California where the two leaders promised to resume military-to-military contacts and curb the fentanyl crisis.

In a statement to Just the News, a State Department spokesperson said the U.S. remains “realistic” about the fentanyl challenge posed by China while congressional hearings and evidence show, despite its rhetoric, the country’s cooperation has been limited.

“The PRC has already started to take steps to dramatically curtail the supply of fentanyl precursors, including taking regulatory and law enforcement action against dozens of PRC‑based synthetic drug and chemical precursor suppliers, issuing a notice to industry, and resuming the submission of chemical incidents to the International Narcotics Control Board’s global information-sharing database,” the spokesperson said.

Indeed, China has made these recent changes, in a move that shows its desire to stabilize the U.S.-China relationship, one expert testified at a Senate committee hearing last week.

“Nonetheless, China still subordinates its anti-drug and anti-crime cooperation to its strategic calculus and views counternarcotics and law enforcement cooperation as a strategic tool to leverage for its other objectives,” Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown, Director of the Brookings Institution’s Initiative on Non-state Armed Actors, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Felbab-Brown also testified that China has indicated it doesn’t plan to cooperate on several key areas believed necessary for fully stemming the tide of precursor chemicals, including intelligence sharing, arrests and prosecution in China of violators, and sufficient regulation of pharmaceutical and chemical companies.

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