Who are the China hawks?

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Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer discusses the status of the US-China trade deal and the Trump administration holding China accountable.

As the coronavirus pandemic has ushered in a new era of skepticism of the Chinese government, three U.S. senators have been pushing for the nation to take a harder stance on China.

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Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Josh Hawley, of Missouri, were known as China hawks long before coronavirus was first identified in the United States

Delegates applaud as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the opening session of China’s National People’s Congress in Beijing on May 22, 2020. (Li Xueren/Xinhua via AP)

Most recently, the senators have opposed China's new national security law, which is expected to minimize freedom in Hong Kong, through the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which passed by unanimous consent in late June.

"By proposing national security laws for Hong Kong, the Chinese government and Communist Party will push Hong Kong’s autonomy to the breaking point. … It is in the interest of the United States to respond swiftly to Beijing’s repeated attacks on Hong Kongers, their autonomy, and their basic rights," Rubio said in a statement.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during an event at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio

Rubio, who's been in the Senate the longest out of the three, also talked tough about China during his unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid.


President Trump signed Rubio's Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 into law on June 17 in response to allegations that China has thrown an estimated one million Uyghurs, a minority group, into reeducation camps. The law deals with sanctions on individuals and entities involved with the camps and commissions reports to Congress on the issue.

"Today President Trump signed into law our #UyghurHumanRightsPolicyAct which holds #China accountable for grotesque human rights violations," Rubio wrote on Twitter on June 17.

Rubio often goes after China's governing Communist Party.

Sen. Tom Cotton

Cotton accused China of lying about coronavirus in February before the virus spread in the United States

"The situation is very grave in part because … China was lying from the beginning, and they’re still lying today," Cotton told "Sunday Morning Futures." "And also because there are so many unknowns about this virus."

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., participates in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on January 25, 2018, in Washington. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Cotton also praised President Trump's decision to enact a China travel ban in late January.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, to quote Benjamin Franklin, and why the president was so smart to ban travel coming from China just a couple weeks ago so we didn’t have more than 20,000 people landing in our country every single day from mainland China," Cotton said in February.


Sen. Josh Hawley

Hawley, a freshman senator, has warned against Chinese companies including TikTok, the popular video-sharing app. In March, he and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced a bill that would ban federal employees from using TikTok on government-issued phones.


Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., questions Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz during a Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs hearing on Dec. 18, 2019. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

"TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing," Hawley said in a statement. "The company even admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background – including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it."


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