Bipartisanship in Action: How the China Select Committee Differs from Other Investigative Panels

The House select committee on China held its first primetime hearing on Tuesday, featuring four high-profile witnesses, including H.R. McMaster and Matthew Pottinger. The hearing, which was chaired by Mike Gallagher, aimed to prove the panel’s commitment to leading a serious, bipartisan investigation into the threats posed by China as a global competitor.

The witnesses helped to lay out the specific threats posed by China and the committee’s top priorities on how to counter Beijing’s aggression. Tong Yi, a former secretary to one of China’s leading dissidents and current human rights activist, Wei Jingsheng, spoke personally to one of the committee’s top priorities, highlighting China’s human rights abuses and why the US must do more to curb its global influence. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, outlined the reasoning for reducing Beijing’s role in the US economy and preventing American companies from ending up in the hands of Chinese state-owned firms and investors.

Gallagher and Illinois Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the committee’s highest ranking Democrat, have publicly touted the panel’s efforts to remain bipartisan in tone and practice. Both have pointed to the types of members on the panel as proof that their work will be a departure from the highly politicized investigations other top committees are conducting.

The committee’s first test to showcase what the panel is setting out to do was Tuesday’s hearing, which focused on China’s human rights abuses. McMaster and Pottinger, who are widely respected on both sides of the aisle, played key roles in how the Trump administration formulated and carried out its agenda toward China.

One of the most pressing issues the committee will ultimately delve into is how the US should defend Taiwan against growing Chinese aggression in the region. The hearing comes after a congressional delegation, led by select committee member Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, traveled to Taiwan where they met with top officials to discuss the threats posed by China. Khanna worked extremely hard to ensure that this trip was not seen as overly provocative to China, focusing on the economic relationship and publicly stating his interest in visiting China as well, according to an aide, who noted that it was not cancelled in the wake of the Chinese spy balloon incident because he believed it would send the wrong message.

Addressing challenges posed by China’s role in the semiconductor supply chain is a top priority for the China select committee and has bipartisan support. Khanna told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday that he hopes the committee will have the opportunity to hear directly from top officials like CIA Director Bill Burns and discuss strategies for avoiding conflict with China at a time of potentially increasing tensions. The committee is working in a way that is consistent with American foreign policy, he said, pointing to the work of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter that has been emulated by every administration since.

However, the commitment to bipartisanship was recently tested by the controversial approach the Biden administration took in handling the Chinese spy balloon that recently flew over the US. How the committee addresses that approach will be a key sign of whether they can honor their vow to remain civil and work together. The committee’s aides told CNN to watch the line of questioning from different members as a sign of whether the panel can remain unified on the public stage.

Pottinger testified publicly last year before the House select committee on the January 6 attack, earning him a nod of approval from the left. “Our national security was harmed in a different way by the sixth of January and that is, I think it emboldened our enemies by helping give them ammunition to feed a narrative that our system of government doesn’t work, that the United States is in decline,” Pottinger said at the hearing. “China, the Putin regime in Russia, Tehran, they’re fond of pushing those kinds of narratives –that democracies are unstable and autocracies are better suited to govern.” Pottinger’s testimony on Tuesday focused on China’s use of propaganda and disinformation to shape global narratives, a tactic that he said poses a serious threat to American democracy.

As the committee moves forward, it will continue to face challenges, particularly in terms of how to balance the need to confront China’s aggression with the need to avoid provoking a conflict. The committee’s approach will also need to take into account the delicate relationship between China and the US, which is increasingly strained as a result of economic and strategic competition.

Despite these challenges, the House select committee on China has the potential to play a vital role in shaping American foreign policy toward China. By providing a bipartisan platform for discussing the threats posed by China, the committee can help to ensure that the US response is thoughtful, strategic, and effective. Whether it will be successful in this regard remains to be seen, but Tuesday’s hearing was a promising start.


Pesach “Pace” Lattin is the original hacker. At 10 years old he took his parents original 8088 XT computer and took it apart and was told that he had to put it together. It took him a few days to figure it out, but within a year he was building computers himself. He also spent much of his time selling computer game copies to his friends at school – making a nice little profit.

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