US passes sweeping bill to address China tech threat

Washington: The US Senate on Tuesday voted 68-32 to approve a sweeping package of legislation intended to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology, as Congress increasingly seeks to take a tough line against Beijing.

The bipartisan measure authorizes about $190 billion for provisions to strengthen US technology and research — and would separately approve spending about $50 billion to increase US production and research into semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.

The bill must also pass the House of Representatives to be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

Senators have tried to strike a balance when calling attention to China”s growing influence. They want to avoid fanning divisive anti-Asian rhetoric when hate crimes against Asian Americans have spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other measures spell out national security concerns and target money-laundering schemes or cyberattacks by entities on behalf of the Chinese government. There are also buy America provisions for infrastructure projects in the USSenators added provisions that reflect shifting attitudes toward China’s handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.

One would prevent federal money for the Wuhan Institute of Virology as fresh investigations proceed into the origins of the virus and possible connections to the lab”s research. The city registered some of the first coronavirus cases.

It’s unclear whether the measure will find support in the Democratic-led House, where the Science Committee is expected to soon consider that chamber”s version.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who has been working with Schumer for two years on legislation that”s included in the bill, called it the biggest investment in science and technology since the Apollo spaceflight program a half century ago.

 

Agency