US Senate passes key bill to combat China's growing economic influence

·4-min read

Washington/Beijing, Jun 9 (PTI) The US Senate has passed a rare bipartisan legislative package aimed at improving the country's economic competition with China by investing billions of dollars in science and technology and holding Beijing accountable for its predatory tactics.

The important anti-China bill was passed by the Senate with 68-32 votes on Tuesday. It is considered a major political victory by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who had made it a top priority.

The US Innovation and Competition Act invests more than USD 100 billion of taxpayer funds to solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation critical to national security and economic competitiveness.

It will also strengthen the security of essential supply chains, and US ability to solve supply-chain disruptions during crises.

Additionally, the bill increases funding for National Science Foundation activities.

“Passing this bill -- now called the US Innovation and Competition Act -- is the moment when the Senate lays the foundation for another century of American leadership. Let me say that again: this bill could be the turning point for American leadership in the 21st Century,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.

This legislation will go down as one of the most significant, bipartisan achievements of the US Senate in recent history, the senior Democratic Senator said as 19 Senate Republicans joined Democrats voting for passage.

“Around the globe, authoritarian governments believe that squabbling democracies like ours can’t unite around national priorities. They believe that democracy itself is a relic of the past, and that by beating us to emerging technologies, many of them will be able to re-shape the world in their own image,” he said.

The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) has made no bones about its desire for global economic dominance through whatever means necessary. They’ve actively worked to buy up, influence, spy on and steal American innovation, Senator Chuck Grassley said.

“They’ve sought to spread pro-China propaganda at our research and academic institutions. And while their ill-gotten approach to economic advancement has boosted their status in the world, they claim to be a developing nation to get better deals to finance their activities,” he said, adding that this is the behaviour of a responsible nation.

Reacting sharply to the US bill, China on Wednesday denounced the legislation, saying it as full of ideological prejudice and driven by a Cold-War mentality, smears and slanders China's development path.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), or China's national legislature, said the bill interfered in China's internal affairs and attempted to contain its development under the banner of 'innovation and competition.' It attempts to maintain the US global hegemony by fanning the so-called China threat, to interfere in China's internal affairs on the pretext of human rights and religion, and to take away China's legitimate right to development by means of 'decoupling' in the scientific, technological and economic areas, the committee said in a statement in Beijing.

The statement also criticised certain provisions of the bill expressing support for Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory; references to the former British colony of Hong Kong, where Beijing is accused of severely restricting democracy; and criticism of Chinese policy in Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of grossly violating the human rights of minority Muslims.

Responding to a question on the US bill, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said it slandered China's domestic and foreign policies and seriously interfered in China's internal affairs on issues such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.

The bill is full of zero-sum cold war mentality and runs counter to the common desire of all sectors of China and the US to strengthen exchanges and cooperation, he said.

Urging the US not to treat China as an 'imaginary enemy,' Wang said China is committed to developing a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with Washington but will continue to firmly safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests at the same time.

In Washington, Senator Sherrod Brown said that China spent billions propping up state-owned enterprises and subsidising research and development, and they also take US ideas and use them to compete – and sometimes cheat – against American workers and businesses.

“This is an important, bipartisan step to ensure the technologies that will drive the next generation of economic growth and manufacturing – from semiconductors to hydrogen buses to the next generation jet engine – will be developed in America, and put Ohioans to work at good paying jobs,” he said.

This bill will help the US stop foreign governments from stealing our research and innovation, so that American taxpayer-funded research will be used to create jobs for hard-working Americans, Senator Rob Portman said.

The bill still needs to pass the House of Representatives before going to President Joe Biden's desk. The House Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks introduced a corresponding bill in the House last month but it is not clear when that legislation will get a vote, CNN reported. PTI LKJ CPS AKJ AKJ