The US plans a massive spending plan to counter China. According to the Senate, China is America’s greatest geopolitical and geo-economic challenge and passed the United States Innovation and Competition Act 2021 to spend more than USD 250 billion to ensure that the US stays on top in terms of technological research and production.
The Bill is a rare point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats. In a vote, 68 of the 100-member Senate supported the measure, with 32 against.The Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and experts say the vote shows how the two political parties are united on the need to counter Beijing’s economic and military ambitions. Supporters say the package is one of the largest industrial bills in US history and the biggest investment in scientific research that the country has seen in decades.
The Bill aimed at bolstering American competitiveness with China with a variety of measures. The key idea is this, from Section 3005, which reads: “The United States must ensure that all Federal departments and agencies are organized to reflect the fact that strategic competition with the PRC is the United States’ greatest geopolitical and geoeconomic challenge.”
To meet that challenge, the Senate authorized in the budget USD 190 billion aimed at massively increasing R&D at universities and other institutions, and boosting innovations in artificial intelligence, drones, and other emerging technologies.To create an American version of China’s Special Economic Zones, USD 10 billion to be invested in “regional technology hubs”. For the expansion of domestic semiconductor production, USD 52 billion has been provisioned. More than USD 23 billion for space exploration and the development of space industries has been earmarked.
The Bill includes several China-specific provisions, including the prohibition of the social media app TikTok from being downloaded on government devices. The purchase of drones manufactured and sold by Chinese state enterprises would also be blocked under the legislation. Chinese organisations engaged in US cyber-attacks or theft of US intellectual property from US firms would face sanctions too.
The Bill also calls for sanctions over human rights abuses in Xinjiang province and abuses against Uighurs are mentioned several times, and a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.The Bill also commissions a new study into the origins of COVID-19, specifically requiring an answer to the question if the virus came from a lab leak or was zoonotic.
China hit back at the Bill describing it “exaggerated the ‘China threat’ scolded America for perceiving China “as an imaginary enemy.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin suggested the Bill could harm these efforts, saying it was “full of Cold War and zero-sum thinking and runs counter to the public aspiration in both countries to strengthen exchanges and cooperation”.
“The China-related content of the Bill passed by the US Senate distorts facts and slanders China’s development path and its domestic and foreign policies,” he said. “It exaggerates the ‘China threat’, advocates traditional competition with China and seriously interferes with China’s internal affairs on Taiwan.”