Sen. Blackburn reintroduces legislation against Sister Cities

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn was one of five other senators to introduce legislation challenging the 157 sister city partnerships between U.S. and Chinese communities.

“Questions have arisen around the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese Government and how they are using these. They found a way to infiltrate these programs and we need to put a stop to that,” said the Senator, in an interview with News 12.

Senator Blackburn slammed sister cities again, citing concerns that the Chinese government is using the program as a means of getting unfair economic advantages over the United States.

“We have seen some of the lawsuits that have come up with spies that were coming into universities, spies sending information back. And of course we know the Chinese government likes to cozy up to local elected officials that they think are going to move on up the ladder. We saw that with the Eric Swalwell situation,” Sen. Blackburn says.

The Senator is referring to a story that broke several months ago regarding an alleged Chinese spy cozying up to U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell in order to feed back information to China.

However, Karen Claypool, President of Chattanooga’s Sister City Association, says this type of behavior doesn’t happen in the sister cities program.

“It’s something to be aware of. But I don’t think that’s happening with our music exchanges. I don’t think it’s happening with our students on Zoom. And we want to do a lot more cultural and art exchanges in the future. I just don’t think this is the vehicle,” says Claypool.

Ms. Claypool famously penned an open letter to the Senator back in December, in which she derided her assessment of the Sister Cities’ program as misinformed and even xenophobic.

She says that hopes the Senator and her colleagues will focus on other issues that she feels are of more importance to the country.

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