Tillis files bill aimed at Chinese Communist government threat in US cities

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., speaks during a Senate Finance Committee business meeting Thursday, March 2, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The meeting was held to consider the nominations of Daniel Werfel, to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Brent Neiman, to be a Deputy Under Secretary, both of the Department of the Treasury, and Rebecca Lee Haffajee, to be an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. The nominees were not present at the hearing. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

RALEIGH — North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has introduced a bill aimed at increased monitoring and accountability of the activities of the Chinese Communist government in U.S. cities.  

The “Sister City Transparency Act” would create a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on China’s “sister city” partnerships in the U.S. 

Per Tillis’ press release, “Sister cities exist ostensibly to promote cultural exchange and economic development. However, the Chinese Communist Party has begun using these partnerships to achieve geostrategic objectives.

“China is a threat to the United States, and we must have proper oversight and review of practices over sister city partnerships,” Tillis said in the press release. “With proper insight, we can see the true nature of these partnerships and mitigate the risk of any corruption or destructive activity. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this legislation to protect our cities from any potential threat of espionage the Chinese Communist Party may impose.” 

Tillis’ release said there is “little information” on sister cities currently operating in the U.S. 

“The United States maintains 1,800 sister city partnerships with countries worldwide, including 157 partnerships with Chinese communities,” he said. 

The newly created GAO report would include identification of the oversight practices that U.S. communities use to mitigate the risks such as “foreign espionage and economic coercion” in their sister city partnerships with China. The report would also determine how foreign communities use those partnerships for purposes that are a threat to the country, such as industrial and academic espionage. 

A review of “best practices” would be included in the report to ensure partnership transparency in any agreements or activities, and with current or potential employees.

Background data from the report states, “The CCP hides behind soft diplomacy and mutual benefit until its foreign partners exhibit political nonconformity. Thus, similar to Confucius Institutes, sister city partnerships may leave American communities vulnerable to foreign espionage and ideological coercion.” 

About A.P. Dillon 1071 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_