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May 27, 2021
Chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Gregory Meeks (D-NY) introduced a bill on Tuesday to reinvigorate American leadership and engagement to respond to challenges presented by the People’s Republic of China. The Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement (EAGLE) Act spans nearly 500 pages and aims to push back against Chinese power by strengthening American alliances around the world. Meeks hopes that the bill will encourage “constructive competition” between the US and China and stay possible military conflict.
In a conversation with the Asia Society, Meeks noted concerning trends in Chinese governance like the surveillance of citizens, mistreatment of ethnic minorities, human rights abuses in Hong Kong and aggressive policing of disputed borders. Meeks declared that the US must “consider the environment that has enabled the PRC to act in the manner it does. We have to be frank about the fact that part of the reason is that we have allowed American leadership and American engagement globally to slip by the wayside.”
The Act addresses human rights issues in the Indo-Pacific in several ways. Specific provisions affirm American support for “the robust exercise by residents of Hong Kong of the rights to free speech, the press, and other fundamental freedoms” and establish increased protections for Hong Kongers fleeing persecution. The bill also condemns the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and would block the import of any goods forcibly produced by Uyghurs in work camps.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), China emits more greenhouse gases than any other nation. The EAGLE Act aims to hold China accountable for its emissions through a variety of initiatives, including a push for renewable energy in the Caribbean to free the region from dependence on Chinese-funded coal and gas programs.
In a statement, Meeks asserted that the EAGLE Act’s push to provide the State Department with increased funds and personnel will buttress “the foundations of American statecraft” and “will help restore America’s global leadership to its rightful place.”
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