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U.S. lawmakers intensify bipartisan efforts to counter China

Published 04/21/2021, 06:06 AM
Updated 04/22/2021, 06:11 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing

By Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A bipartisan U.S. congressional push to counteract China picked up steam on Wednesday as a Senate committee overwhelmingly backed a bill pressing Beijing on human rights and economic competition, while other lawmakers introduced a measure seeking billions for technology research.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed the "Strategic Competition Act of 2021" by 21-1, sending the bill for consideration by the 100-member Senate, even as committee members voiced a need to do even more to counteract Beijing.

The committee added dozens of amendments to the bill. One would force a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics by U.S. officials, not athletes, which was also recommended by the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom.

Separately, a group of Senate and House of Representatives lawmakers introduced the "Endless Frontier Act," calling for $100 billion over five years for basic and advanced technology research and $10 billion to create new "technology hubs" across the country.

Both bills have strong support from both political parties and are expected to become law. The desire for a hard line in dealings with China is one of the few truly bipartisan sentiments in the deeply divided U.S. Congress, which is narrowly controlled by President Joe Biden's fellow Democrats.

The Biden administration supports the measures.

"With this overwhelming bipartisan vote, the Strategic Competition Act becomes the first of what we hope will be a cascade of legislative activity for our nation to finally meet the China challenge across every dimension of power, political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military and even cultural," said Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate panel.

He and Senator Jim Risch, the panel's top Republican, wrote the "Strategic Competition" measure together, with Risch saying it was "truly bipartisan."

The legislation was greeted with anger in Beijing.

"It distorts facts and confuses right and wrong," said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman at the Chinese foreign ministry.

"It hypes up the China threat theory and talks about full strategic competition with China. It grossly interferes with China's affairs and reeks of Cold War and zero sum mentalities."


The 280-page Senate bill addresses competition with China through efforts such as increasing international development funding and working with allied countries and international organizations. It pushes humanitarian and democratic values, like imposing sanctions over the treatment of the minority Muslim Uighurs and supporting democracy in Hong Kong. [L1N2M113C]

The bill stresses the need to "prioritize the military investments necessary to achieve United States political objectives in the Indo-Pacific." It backs steep increases in security-related funding for the region and closer ties with Taiwan.

It would expand the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes financial transactions for potential national security risks. U.S. universities are concerned about a provision of the bill requiring CFIUS to review some Chinese grants and contracts.

The Strategic Competition and Endless Frontier acts are part of a fast-track effort announced in February by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to pass a wide range of legislation to counter China. Schumer is a lead sponsor of the Endless Frontier bill.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing

Foreign Relations committee members said they want to do more.

"I don't believe anyone would think that this legislation is going to change China's march toward a global hegemony of autocracy and repression," Republican Senator Mitt Romney said. "...I would suggest we have a lot more work to do."

Latest comments

china needs the west more than we need it..
These lawmakers are way out of their league if they think they can play against China. Chinese leaders are long term thinkers and problem solvers. They have to work their way up the ladder... China will clobbered them if they think they can shutdown China by using fake propaganda... China has Awaken...
Thanks to former President Trump, these slovenly creatures have realized it's cool to stand up to Chinese racism, apartheid, et al. The US has woke and is a fearsome creature against evil; ask adolf ******
China isn't afraid of a 78 yr old frail man and definitely not Harris
More human rights hypocrisy!
everyone is scared that they will be under a great emperor .......Xi Tyranny
Yea.  Good luck.  They are trying to counter China by offering US people not to work, pay reparations, stay lazy. First of all you need to start working like Chinese people.
Additionally, the CCP-controlled press only reports successes in China.  In America, the left-wing media only reports our failures. As a result, even in the U.S. people think China will win.
We have abusive, corrupt, serial cheating, narcissistic men in the USA that are finally being recorded and called out on their shenanigans. They don’t like being faithful to their wife, they don’t like paying their employees a living wage, they like nepotism, they like covering for each other, they like serving on each other’s corporate boards to get their million dollar pay raises, they like flying their $2-30M bizjets around the USA with their cute little side chick secretaries and they like to pretend they are Christians. They don’t like being called out on their bs shenanigans.
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