Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) joined Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) on April 29 to discuss why it was important for the United States to cooperate with Israel on COVID-19 resources.
On April 16, Cruz and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) pushed for $12 million to be appropriated toward such cooperation with Israel. Cruz said on the call that the partnership with Israel is necessary to wean the U.S. off its dependence on China for personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals.
“We saw just how problematic that supply chain is in the midst of this pandemic,” he said, citing a state-controlled newspaper in China stating the Chinese government would cut off medication from the U.S. if the Trump administration took action against China over the pandemic.
“That would not merely be economic warfare, that would be real warfare,” Cruz added.
The Texas senator also pointed out that the majority of the world’s PPE is manufactured in China; China has been hoarding PPE since the pandemic started, resulting in shortages.
Cruz said he has been warning for years that China is the United States’ chief geopolitical rival, accusing China of stealing U.S. military technology to avoid research and development costs.
“Never before in the history of the world has a nation-state … employed an intellectual property theft as a strategy integral to their national defense,” he argued.
The Texan also pointed to the Chinese government putting millions of Uighur Muslims into concentration camps as reason to decouple from China, as well as China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of offering cheap and easy credit for governments worldwide to invest in infrastructure. Cruz argued that BRI has caused governments to take on debt they are unable to pay back to China, giving the Chinese government economic leverage over those countries.
“That threat is enormous,” Cruz said.
Cruz blamed China for causing COVID-19 to become a global pandemic, arguing China silenced individuals in Wuhan who were raising alarm bells about the spread of the coronavirus in December and January.
“There’s a real possibility that this could have been contained as a regional outbreak rather than as a worldwide pandemic,” he said. “But the Chinese government, they were more concerned about saving face than saving lives.”
For the U.S. to start decoupling from China, the U.S. needs to increase its cooperation with Israel in fighting COVID-19, Cruz argued. “Israel is a world leader when it comes to pharmaceuticals and medicine,” Cruz said, pointing to the fact that half of civilian research in Israel is devoted to life sciences.
“They [Israel] have roughly 1,000 medical devices, and that’s second only to the United States,” the Texas senator added.
Under Cruz and Coons’ initiative, the U.S. would provide $12 million toward cooperation with Israel over the span of 2021 to 2023; Israel would match that $12 million.
“I think standing with Israel is critical, not only for Israel but for [the] U.S.’ national defense,” Cruz said.