Bipartisan lawmakers warn of China threat at select committee’s first hearing
(CNN) -- Bipartisan lawmakers warned of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party on Thursday during the first hearing of the House select committee on China, a rare demonstration of unity across the aisle in a Congress increasingly divided along partisan lines.
The panel's chairman, Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, described the stakes in sweeping and dire terms at the outset of the hearing, saying, "This is an existential struggle over what life will look like in the 21st century -- and the most fundamental freedoms are at stake."
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the panel's top Democrat, argued that working across the aisle is critical for the US to counter the threat. "We must practice bipartisanship," he said. "We must recognize that the CCP wants us to be fractious, partisan and prejudiced," a reference to the Chinese Communist Party.
Gallagher made a clear distinction between the Chinese government and its citizenry, saying, "We must constantly distinguish between the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people themselves, who have always been the party's primary victims."
And Krishnamoorthi stressed the need to "avoid anti-Chinese or Asian stereotyping at all costs."
Ahead of the hearing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have worked to set a tone of cooperation for the panel.
The US-China relationship has garnered heightened attention in the wake of the US shooting down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, an incident that took place in early February after the balloon had traveled across the continental US.
In a display of unity across party lines, the House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution condemning China's use of the suspected surveillance balloon. The measure passed unanimously with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 419 to zero.