Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) called on the Biden administration to fire climate envoy John Kerry over his China investments on Friday, saying the financial activities raise "serious questions as to whether Kerry can negotiate in good faith with Beijing on climate change."
Rubio's comments came in response to a Washington Free Beacon report on Thursday that Kerry and his wife disclosed a stake worth at least $1 million in a Chinese investment group that is a top shareholder of a Chinese tech company blacklisted by the United States for human rights violations.
The company, YITU Technology, helped develop facial recognition surveillance software that allows the Chinese government to sort individuals by race and ethnicity and specifically target the Uyghurs, according to the New York Times. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce sanctioned the company for human rights violations.
"Now it makes sense why he is actively working against my Uyghur Forced Labor Act, which would make it impossible for products made with slave labor in Xinjiang, China, to be imported into the United States," said Rubio in a Fox News column on Friday. "Kerry has been working against my legislation, and has convinced President Joe Biden to stay silent on the bill."
"President Biden now has a choice: stand by the man profiting from slave labor or fire him."
Rubio added that "rumors have swirled in Washington" for weeks about Kerry's opposition to a Senate-approved bill that would bar imports of Chinese goods made with slave labor. Rubio, the bill's sponsor, expressed concern last month that Kerry was quietly lobbying against the legislation, which has stalled in the House.
The climate envoy had already faced scrutiny from Republican lawmakers for repeatedly downplaying China's repression, imprisonment, and forced labor of the Uyghur people. Kerry has said he prioritizes climate change issues over human rights while meeting with Chinese officials, telling Bloomberg News last month that "life is always full of tough choices."