Communism, Slavery, and Theft: Florida Lawmakers Will File Bill Cracking Down on China-Owned Temu

Communism, Slavery, and Theft: Florida Lawmakers Will File Bill Cracking Down on China-Owned Temu

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
June 28, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—On the heels of Florida authorities denying the fast-fashion, Chinese-owned company Shein access into its retail federation, another Chinese business tied to the Communist Party of China (CCP)—featured no less than six times during the Super Bowl—has been sued by Arkansas for breaching customer data.

And now, Florida Lawmakers want to take action.

"The state of Florida will not be an enabler of communist regimes," Republican Senator Jay Collins, the sponsor of a new law mandating anti-communism instruction in K-12 schools, told The Floridian in a statement. "Ensuring the safety of Floridians from foreign entities, like China, is crucial, especially when they operate under seemingly consumer-friendly fronts such as Temu."

An e-commerce site, Temu launched in 2022, boasting a wide array of discounted products to buyers worldwide—some of which are marketed at less than $1. The app has millions of downloads and has exploded in popularity, including with its astounding amount of airtime during and after this year's Super Bowl.

But Temu has a problem.

"Do Things Have To Get That Bad...Before Someone Acts?"

The business's parent company, Pinduoduo (PDD)—which has a market capitalization of almost $200 billion—employs 12 former Chinese Communist Party officials as their top executives, the New York Post reported. In addition, PDD was sued by Arkansas on Tuesday for allegedly illegally accessing customer data.

This means there's a possibility that communist China breached American citizens' data, which is what Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin argued in his lawsuit, stating, "We are the first state to take this kind of action. I anticipate, I predict, there will be many, many more.”

The lawsuit seeks injunctions to prevent PDD from accessing information from Arkansas residents, demands a trial by jury, and asks that the state receive $10,000 per violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

"I will be closely monitoring Arkansas’ legal action and will ensure that the state of Florida remains the hub for freedom and a leader in the fight against predatory foreign entities," Collins continued, before hinting that he may further examine an avenue to protect against Chinese invasion of privacy. "As we gear up for the 2025 Legislative Session, Floridian security remains my top priority."

Republican Rep. Alex Rizo agreed, telling The Floridian that he would "absolutely" file a bill to crack down on Temu.

"It's a very real threat and we value data privacy in Florida," he said, before referencing recent laws passed by the Legislature cracking down on Chinese interference in Florida, including a controversial measure restricting Chinese citizens from purchasing property. "We know that they're a threat to our security integrity in the United States, and we know that they've flooded the market with counterfeit products for decades—if the federal government won't act, then it's incumbent upon states to act and protect people."

Rizo continued, applauding the federal government for taking action on the Chinese-owned app TikTok with a law requiring the platform either be sold or banned within a period. However, he said, "Do things have to get that bad? Does people's private information have to be out there for so long—putting them in danger—before someone acts?"

"I think that you're going to see a lot of Representatives and Senators who value security having those conversations early on in our next session," he added, explaining that bill filing for the 2025 session hasn't opened yet (claims bills, which have an early filing date of August 1st, are often the first bills to be filed).

Temu: Intellectual Property Theft, CCP Ties, And Forced Labor?

While the Temu discussion at the state level is a new conversation, it has been plaguing the federal level for months—interestingly spearheaded by Senators from Arkansas and Florida. In April, Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) pleaded with the Biden Administration to investigate Temu over concerns about slave labor and intellectual property theft.

"I write to urge you to investigate...Temu...for violating my Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act," Rubio wrote, referencing his 2021 law requiring the Department of Homeland Security to block imports that use Uyghur slave labor. This is done by adding all manufacturers or companies to the UFLPA entity list, which lets border patrol block imported goods originating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where many Uyghurs have been forcibly sent for "labor transfer" programs.

Temu, which has sold items in the U.S. made by businesses in that region, has exploded in popularity. In January 2024, Temu was the most downloaded app in America with 51 million monthly active users. This is a 300 percent increase from 2023.

Rubio says this massive popularity increase is not from the value of their products, but from "Their ultra-low prices, which are a result of a combination of intellectual property theft, trade exploitation, strong backing from the CCP, and, allegedly, the use of forced labor."

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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