The problem with having a reputation as a political bomb-thrower is that sometimes a good idea gets lost in the dust-up. This was the case last week when, in an interview, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) stated she would “kick out every single Chinese in this country that is loyal to the CCP.” Predictably, critics latched onto the word “Greene,” and immediately discounted the substance of what the freshman congresswoman proposed.
In fact, if you brush aside her phraseology, there is something worthwhile and timely in what Greene is saying, and which confronts a serious national security problem most leaders in Washington, D.C. refuse to acknowledge.
The dirty little secret is that our national security is being seriously undermined because far too many Chinese nationals are living and working freely here in America, even as their allegiance remains tied to the communist regime in Beijing, our primary adversary on the world stage (as I have noted previously).
Federal agents rounding up large numbers of Chinese immigrants holding visas or who have resident alien status, in order to scrutinize their "loyalty" to the Chinese Communist Party, does not make for an effective (or likely constitutional) response to the threat posed by China. As a public policy, it is akin to using a sledgehammer when a scalpel is the far better tool.
Moreover, were Republican leaders to adopt such a proposal, China’s leaders would sit back and smile serenely while the media, academia, and U.S. businesses with ties to the communist behemoth soundly bash the idea, thereby ensuring the proposal will fail to materialize as policy, while providing additional camouflage for their nefarious activities in our country.
The essential point Greene appears to be making, is that it is high time the federal government direct some of its vast intelligence apparatus toward identifying Chinese aliens who have verifiable, working ties to the CCP or its Red Army, and then take steps to send them home. On this point, Greene could not be more correct.
For far too long, federal officials in the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government have worn the same rose-colored glasses they donned in the 1990s, believing that increased economic ties would liberalize China and turn the Communists into allies. Instead, and quite predictably, under President Xi Jinping, China has hardened its position against the U.S. in economic matters as well as military.
Years of kowtowing to Beijing, especially a naive attitude towards Chinese students and those with work visas, have allowed Chinese intelligence assets to become embedded in American academic, technological, scientific, and even our military institutions. Members of Congress are not immune from being targeted as information assets; just ask Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
Identifying Chinese nationals involved in sensitive research or technology and who have links to the CCP or the Red Army, and revoking their visas in order to send them back to Beijing, makes sense however you look at it, except of course, if considered from China’s perspective. Clearly, the Chinese leadership is betting that American "wokeness" will prevail and such a bold move not taken seriously.
Implementing a policy such as at the root of what Greene is getting at would be neither easy nor uncomplicated. It necessarily would require participation by the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, in addition to the departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security.
If our government performed as it should (and as it did in decades past), our intelligence agencies would expertly, but covertly, lead the charge. Unfortunately, this is 2021 not 1981 and these agencies are now far too busy surveilling, investigating, and prosecuting “white nationalists” and domestic “anti-government” groups, to be bothered countering the very real national security threats posed by foreign enemies (including those inside our borders).
This should not, however, dissuade Republicans from at least trying. Pressing the issue will, if nothing else, raise the profile of the threat China poses and hopefully move it from the backburner closer to the front.
Greene’s many critics may continue (as surely they will) to inaccurately label her proposal “racist” and xenophobic, but the longer our government fails to respond meaningfully to the threat she has stepped forward to identify, the harder it becomes to dislodge these real enemies among us.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.