WASHINGTON – China is engaged in an “economic blitzkrieg” to supplant the United States as the world’s only superpower, Attorney General William Barr said Thursday, while taking U.S. businesses to task for bowing to Chinese pressure in pursuit of profit.
From Hollywood to Silicon Valley, American businesses “have also allowed themselves to become pawns of Chinese influence,” Barr said in a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While Hollywood “regularly censors its own movies to appease the Chinese Communist Party,” tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple “have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate” with the CCP, Barr said.
The Motion Picture Association of America declined to comment.
The remarks came amid elevated U.S.-China tensions over a host of issues, including the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong’s sovereignty and China’s military posture in the South China Sea.
President Donald Trump once aggressively sought to strike a trade deal with China, but now his administration has embraced an increasingly hawkish stance toward Beijing, blaming it for initially covering up the coronavirus and for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy by imposing strict national security laws.
Trump has also clashed in recent months with social media giants Twitter, Facebook and Apple on a number of issues, including tension between the Justice Department and tech companies over encryption policies.
As part of its influence operations in the United States, the CCP has escalated behind-the-scenes efforts “to cultivate and coerce American business executives to further its political objectives,” Barr said, warning that businessmen who failed to disclose their relations with China could run afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The 1938 law requires agents of foreign governments to disclose their activities and ties to foreign entities.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
In a tweet issued about the time Barr was speaking, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, wrote, “The #US is pressing the accelerator to trash China-US relations, while China is putting the brakes on. The US should know that its enemy is the virus, not China.”
The U.S.-China Business Council, a trade group, said in a statement to VOA that the “harsh rhetoric” from the two sides was not helpful.
“Both sides should also be mindful not to carelessly deepen the economic crisis from which we have yet to begin to recover,” the statement said. “We’re not talking but yelling at each other these days.”
Source: Voice of America