Last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced the “COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act” which, he insists, will help protect research from Chinese espionage.
Scott’s bill “requires a thorough national security evaluation and clearance by the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of all Chinese student visa holders taking part in activities related to COVID-19 vaccine research.” Several Republicans in the U.S. Senate–Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Martha McSally of Arizona–are cosponsoring the proposal.
“Communist China is responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, and their lies and misinformation cost American lives. We cannot let Communist China off the hook for this, and we absolutely cannot allow Communist China to steal or sabotage any American research efforts related to the coronavirus vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act protects American efforts to create a vaccine as we work to end this pandemic,” Scott said on Thursday.
“I know firsthand China doesn’t play fair from building a business for 38 years, and their failure to operate on-the-level regarding COVID-19 has caused untold global devastation. Requiring a thorough national security evaluation and clearance for those taking part in COVID-19 vaccine research who hold visas from China is a small measure we can take to help ensure the safety of our research efforts,” Braun said.
“The Chinese Communist Party is notorious for stealing American technology to make up for China’s pitiful inability to self-innovate. We will not stand idly by and watch them steal American vaccine research through spies posing as students, which is why I have led efforts to eliminate Confucius Institutes on college campuses. As we race to find a cure for a virus that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans, we need confidence that the CCP does not harm U.S. efforts to create a vaccine,” Blackburn said.
The bill would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) do thorough background checks on all Chinese student visa holders engaged in vaccine research before issuing visas.
Scott’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last week. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.