The coronavirus exposed many flaws in our level of preparedness for dealing with pandemics, but one of the most glaring holes it brought to light is America’s over-reliance on China for producing prescription drugs.

For the sake of our economy and more importantly our health and security, it’s time we brought that home.

China is a real and present danger to America and Americans.

Just as we try to stem the economic slide as personal lives and business come to a halt, the U.S. Treasury must borrow to finance the stimulus package. Before the crisis, China held 20% of all foreign-held debt – over $1 trillion.

That is a lot of leverage for Beijing. If they were to sell our bonds, they could exacerbate the crisis and the American government’s tenuous financial state. Our economy would be debilitated for years.

And they are already engaged in direct economic warfare. China steals $600 billion a year from American individuals and companies in intellectual property. That is the ideas and designs that American minds develop and provide to the market – from movies and fashion to computer systems and chemical compounds like pharmaceuticals.

In the last decade, China stole computer chips, a brilliant paint color, advanced corn seeds, and a revolutionary steel recipe. Each would grow our economy, enrich workers, and strengthen our manufacturing industries. But China now undercuts our business’s prices and steals American workers’ jobs.

But there’s a more immediate threat to America – and it’s a matter of life and death.

China makes 90% of all antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen, and over 70% of acetaminophen (Tylenol) available in the U.S. They also make many of the ingredients and do so in unsafe and unmonitored labs and factories.

In the midst of this crisis, Communist China’s government-run media threatened to choke off the supplies of these drugs to throw us into “the mighty sea of coronavirus.”

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a decorated Iraq war veteran, is advancing a bill to end China’s leverage over the American people and our economy over these vital medicines. It encourages American drug makers to manufacture here at home and blocks Chinese-made drugs and ingredients. This industry is too important to leave in the hands of the brutal and dangerous regime in Beijing.

Such incentives must be extended to the production of rare earth metals – used for thousands of electronics applications and military equipment – that only China produces even though we have the world’s largest reserves in the ground. The only American mine shut down in 2002, was re-opened briefly, and later sold off to a firm partially owned by the Chinese.

President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on the predatory Chinese for their unfair trade practices, and China once again threatened to cut off our rare earth supply.

When we come out of this crisis, we must move quickly to restore our industrial base, bring supply chains of national interest back to America, and punish Chinese theft and aggression.

Breaking China’s grip on our country is essential for our economic survival, military strength, and American’s very health.