China denounced a United States Senate bill worth about $ 250 billion that aims to strengthen American technology and manufacturing prowess as an example of the United States advertising “the so-called Chinese threat” and accusing Washington of trying to hinder its development.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Innovation and Competition Act on Tuesday, in a rare display of unity in a courtroom often filled with political divisions between Democrats and Republicans.
The sweeping legislation, passed with 68-32 votes, combines various China-related measures into what analysts have called the largest industrial policy piece of legislation in the United States in decades.
In a fierce affirmation Wednesday, the foreign affairs committee of the Chinese ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Assembly, expressed its “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition.”
It said, “This bill seeks to exaggerate and spread the so-called Chinese threat to maintain global American hegemony, using human rights and religion as an excuse to interfere in Chinese domestic politics and deprive China of its legitimate development rights.” .
Separately, in a daily briefing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the China-related content in the bill was “full of zero-sum cold war thinking” which “distorts the facts. [and] slanders China’s development path and domestic and foreign policy ”.
Supporters of the bill point to China’s similar strategies. Beijing has implemented various policy projects over the years aimed at improving its competitiveness and building its prowess in advanced technologies.
Analysts said the bill’s approval reflects the reality of US-China bilateral relations, which have been on a downward trend since Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, came to power in 2017.
“There is no doubt that the only thing that unites Americans [these days] it is distrust of China and a determination to compete. The fact that infrastructure talks have stalled but this bill has been passed makes that quite clear, “said Leslie Vinjamuri, program director for the US and the Americas at the London-based thinktank Chatham House. .
But Vinjamuri stressed that this latest move in Washington did not mark what some Chinese analysts have called “technological decoupling” between the two countries. “The need to invest in technology and industry is obvious, and it is also good for Americans and US elected officials to achieve this,” he said.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which previously passed a different version. The two will need to be reconciled into a single bill before it is sent to the White House for signature by the president.
Biden said he was “encouraged” by the Senate’s approval of the bill. “We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun is off,” he said in a declaration.
At the heart of the Senate bill is a $ 50 billion emergency allocation to the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote semiconductor development and manufacturing through research and incentive programs previously authorized by Congress. Overall, the bill would increase spending by approximately $ 250 billion, with most of the spending occurring in the first five years.
The bill includes a number of other China-related provisions, including a ban on downloading the TikTok social media app on government devices and would block the purchase of drones manufactured and sold by Chinese government-backed companies.
It would also allow diplomats and the Taiwanese military to display their flag and wear their uniforms while in the United States for official business and create new, mandatory sanctions against Chinese entities involved in U.S. cyberattacks or theft of U.S. intellectual property by of US companies. It provides for a review of export controls on items that could be used to support human rights violations.
Last week Biden signed an executive order which prohibits Americans from investing in a number of Chinese companies with alleged ties to defense or surveillance technology sectors.
Major Chinese companies included in the previous Department of Defense list have also been included in an updated list, including Huawei Technologies and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), which is critical to China’s national drive to enhance its domestic industry. chip.
Beijing has asked Washington to withdraw the order, which will go into effect on 2 August. He also said he was ready to take “measures necessary to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies”.
With contributions from agencies