Florida lawmakers take aim at China

FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the office...
FILE - In this April 14, 2016 file photo, a Chinese national flag flutters against the office buildings in Shanghai, China.(AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:30 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - The governor and legislative leaders are adding China to the growing list of targets for the 2021 Legislative Session, beginning Tuesday.

Newly filed bills seek to limit intellectual property theft by the Communist regime and crack down on Chinese influence in colleges and universities.

“The growing presence of the Chinese Communist Party influence in domestic and international affairs is one of the most pervasive threats to American security and prosperity,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a press conference Monday.

The governor and House Speaker are backing two proposals.

The first seeks to limit Chinese influence in academia by requiring transparency for donations from foreign governments over $50,000 and creating penalties for institutions that don’t comply.

“Florida is known for our sunshine and transparency. No longer will foreign interests be able to hide payments through subsidiaries and front companies,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

The legislation comes after indictments of professors at the University of Florida and UCF alleged to have ties to the Chinese communist party.

“I too believe we are just scratching the surface of what is out there. Florida is taking bold steps to protect our institutions from countries that do us harm,” said Rep Erin Grall, who is sponsoring the legislation in the House.

A second bill would increase penalties for cooperate espionage, raising theft of trade secrets to a second degree felony and trafficking trade secrets to a first degree felony.

“The theft of trade secrets and intellectual property must stop and these laws will place Florida in a position to end it,” said Senate sponsor Jennifer Bradley.

The governor and lawmakers left without taking questions, but the legislation isn’t unexpected.

The governor has promised retribution against the Chinese Government through the pandemic.

Also filed this year is legislation blaming China for the economic meltdown caused by COVID.

It would prevent state and local governments from purchasing products wholly made in China or products assembled outside the US containing less than 25% US-made parts.

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