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Monday, December 6, 2021

Beijing annoyed with US bill to counter the threat from China

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Beijing’s influence operations within the United States have taken on a new dimension, as evidenced by reports that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is pressuring US companies to lobby for a massive China bill aimed at boosting US competitiveness.

The report must have alarmed the leaders of the US Congress, who now promise to “immediately” resume negotiations and bring the bill to the finish line “as soon as possible.”

The Chinese bill that worries Beijing is called the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which is a 2,376-page legislative package. The Senate passed USICA in June with a 68–32 bipartisan vote. A narrower version of the bill, called the Global American Leadership and Engagement Act (EAGLE), has stalled in the House of Representatives since July due to controversy and other legislative priorities.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington has threatened American companies to lose market share in China if the law becomes law, Reuters reported. Through letters and meetings, Chinese officials pleaded with a “wide circle” of business people to lobby for the measure.

Senate and House of Representatives bills are aimed at countering Beijing’s economic ambitions and global influence. They seek to resolve issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Beijing’s genocide against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. USICA calls for boycotting the Beijing 2022 Olympics and reporting on the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To improve the competitiveness of the United States, the Senate bill also sets aside $ 52 billion in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and allows nearly $ 190 billion to be spent in support of critical U.S. technologies.

In a letter sent in early November, the Chinese embassy asked the company’s executives to “play a positive role, urging members of Congress to move away from zero-sum thinking and ideological prejudice, stop advertising negative bills related to China, and remove negative clauses.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not deny these influence operations, but said some US bills reflect “Cold War thinking” that is damaging bilateral relations between the two countries.

Washington, however, has no intention of backing down, according to Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a co-sponsor of a Senate bill that responded to China’s threats.

“Xi Jinping does not want this law to become law,” Yang said in a statement. The Chinese leader is “scared” because USICA will force the United States to “take the lead again.”

Threats from China, he said, “will only help ensure that the law becomes law.”

News that China is lobbying for the bill could unite and prompt both parties and the houses of Congress to pass a bipartisan bill without delay.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, longtime hawks, reached an agreement on November 17 to agree on two different bills. The deal came after Senate Republicans and some House Democrats opposed Sumer’s plan to include the law in the annual defense policy bill.

“While there are many areas of agreement on these legislative proposals between the two chambers, there are still a number of important unresolved issues,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement, adding that they will resolve these differences during the conference.

Both chambers “will immediately begin a bipartisan process of negotiating legislative proposals from the two chambers so that we can get the final text of the law to the president’s table as soon as possible,” they said.

The House draft bill, sponsored by Rep. Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has previously been criticized for narrowing down some of the provisions in the Senate bill relating to human rights and Taiwan. The House bill also asks for billions to fight climate change, which was not included in the Senate version. The changes upset Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee, who opposed the bill in July.

“I am delighted that negotiations have resumed to pass legislation to address the generational threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” a leading Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee, Michael McCall, Texas, told me.

“But it is vital that this law is bipartisan – and meaningfully addresses various aspects of the CCP’s malice, instead of giving billions of dollars to the Green Climate Fund on top of tens of billions of dollars in climate funding this week alone.”

According to McCall, House Republicans want the bill to “counter the CCP’s ideological and territorial expansion, stop its economic abuses, preserve our traditional military advantage in the Indo-Pacific, and secure supply chains for critical technologies.”

It is unclear what the final China bill will look like, but it “has to be more than just messaging, and it cannot be turned into another political football — that’s too important,” McCall said.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

To follow

Emel Akan is a White House economic policy reporter based in Washington DC. She previously worked in the financial sector as an investment banker at JPMorgan and as a consultant at PwC. She graduated from Georgetown University with an MBA.

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