Republican Rep. Chip Roy complains about China at a hearing about anti-Asian violence in the wake of the Atlanta shootings

Chip roy
Rep. Chip Roy. C-SPAN
  • Roy used his opening statement at a hearing about anti-Asian violence to complain about China.
  • The hearing came after a series of Atlanta-area shootings killed 8 people, including 6 Asian women.
  • “What they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation,” Roy said of the Chinese government.
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Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas used his opening statement at a congressional hearing about anti-Asian violence to complain about the Chinese government and the coronavirus.

Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing comes two days after a series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested on murder charges on Wednesday in connection with the shootings.

In his opening statement, Roy said the shootings were a tragedy, that “all Americans deserve protection and to live in a free and secure society,” and that the “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice.” He then emphasized the importance of justice by quoting an “old saying in Texas” that glorified lynchings.

Roy went on to criticize the hearing, saying: “My concern about this hearing is that it seems to want to venture into the policing of rhetoric in a free society, free speech, and away from the rule of law and taking out bad guys.”

Then he employed whataboutism – a Soviet-era propaganda tactic used to deflect blame – as he launched into a tirade against the Chinese government.

“I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” he said. “I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern-day slavery.”

“What they are doing to Uyghurs, what they are doing targeting our country, what they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” Roy continued. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”

-The Recount (@therecount) March 18, 2021

“There’s hardly any getting around that that in fact happened,” Roy said, before doubling down on his criticism of the Chinese government for clamping down on its research into the origins of the coronavirus.

“I’m not going to be ashamed of saying that I oppose … the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “And when we say things like that and we’re talking about that, we shouldn’t be worried about having a committee of members of Congress policing our rhetoric because some evil-doers go engage in some evil activity, as occurred in Atlanta, Georgia. Because when we start policing free speech we’re doing the very thing that we’re condemning when we condemn what the Chinese Communist Party does to their country.”

He continued: “Nothing can be more dangerous than going down that road because who decides what is hate?”

After Roy finished his opening statement, committee chairman Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee pushed back on his colleague’s characterization of the hearing as an attempt to stifle free speech.

“I’d just like to reiterate that while speech is important and has meaning, the incidents I mentioned in my opening statement – being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter, and shoved violently to the ground, as the video showed – that’s not speech,” Cohen said.

New York Rep. Grace Meng also didn’t mince words when reacting to Roy’s comments.

“I want to go back to something that Mr. Roy said earlier,” the Democratic congresswoman said in her opening remarks. “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bull’s-eye on the back of Asian Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.”

Meng grew emotional as she continued, “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a significant increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the US. President Joe Biden signed a memorandum on January 26 condemning the violence, praising members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community who worked on the front lines to combat the pandemic, and pledging that the federal government would play a larger role in fighting the violence.

On Wednesday, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki also pointed to former President Donald Trump and his allies’ rhetoric about COVID-19 and said there’s “no question” it contributed to the rise in anti-Asian violence. The former president and those in his orbit have repeatedly called the disease “Wuhan virus,” “China virus,” and “Kung flu.”

“I think there’s no question that some of the damaging rhetoric that we saw during the prior administration, blaming – calling COVID, you know, the ‘Wuhan virus’ or other things led to, you know, perceptions of the Asian American community that are inaccurate, unfair that have … elevated threats against Asian Americans, and we’re seeing that around the country,” Psaki said.