U.S. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida introduced a bill Thursday, Feb. 3, to update the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to combat corruption between U.S. companies and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Rubio said U.S. companies had hired Chinese Communist Party “princelings” for financial gain, intending to co-opt the CCP and gain benefits in China. Such behavior should be subject to the FCPA’s definition of corruption. The “princelings” are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to U.S. companies’ involvement in corruption in China.

On Thursday, Rubio wrote an article in “National Review” that FCPA prohibits bribery behavior in federal regulations, but now, the law is still far from the demarcation requirements. In the past 20 years, U.S. companies operating in China have found a way to bypass FCPA.

He explained that doing business in China is not based on fair competition, and it has never been.

Rubio wrote, “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses every lever at its disposal—economic, political, and legal—to manipulate international transactions to its benefit. Since the opening of trade relations between China and the U.S., this has resulted in countless corrupt arrangements between American businesses and Beijing.

These bribes—we should call them what they are—are not usually monetary payments, so they do not fall under the FCPA’s jurisdiction as strictly interpreted. But they deeply violate the spirit of the law.”

The Senator from Floria gave an example of American banks hiring children of high-ranking CCP officials to “curry favor with the Chinese government” when doing business in the world’s most populous country. 

“Corporate bribery in China made headlines in 2016 with the “princeling” cases. A group of American banks had hired and promoted the unqualified children of senior CCP officials to curry favor with the Chinese government.”

“In this case, while the change in hiring practices was not inherently a monetary transaction, it is clear that the FCPA applies to the bank’s corrupt practices,” he said, adding that the U.S. rarely applies FCPA provisions to such situations.

Rubio said the “princelings” are just the tip of the corruption iceberg” of corrupt activity involving U.S. companies in China, and there are numerous examples of U.S. companies kowtowing to the CCP.

Examples include:

  • Online retailer Amazon’s removal of negative reviews on Xi Jinping’s books;
  • Apple’s signing of a secret agreement promising to invest and transfer technology to China;
  • Microsoft’s Bing customizing its search engine technology to Beijing’s political standards;
  • YouTube deleting video with comments criticizing the CCP;
  • Opening of a new Tesla dealership in Xinjiang for electric cars, ignoring the ongoing genocide there. 

Rubio noted, “Today, a slew of America’s largest and wealthiest companies do the bidding of the CCP to protect their market share and maximize their profit margins.”

He added: “These actions may not be primarily monetary in nature, but they are plainly more valuable to the CCP than cash. It’s clear that the time has come to update the FCPA to account for this 21st-century form of corruption.”

The new bill he introduced Thursday would expand “the definition of corrupt intent to include actions that excuse the genocide in Xinjiang, advance the CCP’s propaganda efforts, or “invest” in core CCP activities. Companies engaged in suspicious behavior would have to prove why their actions are truly good for business, not part of a corrupt bargain with Beijing.”

Rubio concluded that “the need to crack down on corporate collusion with the CCP has never been stronger than it is at this moment.”

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