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Senate authorizes passage of economic warfare law targeting China

 Senate authorizes passage of economic warfare law targeting China

The US Senate moved closer Thursday evening to the passage of the innovation and competition law in the United States, which provides more than 200 billion dollars to finance an economic war directed mainly against China, but also against other competitors from the United States to Japan and Western Europe.

The key vote took place Thursday afternoon on a motion to close debate and block any parliamentary obstruction. It was adopted by 68 votes to 30, easily exceeding the threshold of 60 votes. While 30 Republicans voted against the closure motion, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and 17 other Republicans backed it, in return for Democrats' agreement to put several amendments to the vote.

Senate authorizes passage of economic warfare law targeting China
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat New York (AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana)

The bill, co-authored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana, incorporates half a dozen separate pieces of legislation. Some were introduced in response to the acute shortage of computer chips that led to the partial shutdown of the US auto industry. Others have been motivated by allegations of China's “theft” of US intellectual property.

Among the co-sponsors of the legislation are Republicans Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney, as well as Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, the senator with the closest personal connections to President Biden.

The various bills presented by six Senate committees bear titles such as: Endless Frontier Act; “Strategic Competition Act”; and “Meeting the China Challenge Act”. In their combined form, they are over 1,400 pages long. The right-wing Heritage Foundation summed up the entire bill as the start of a "long-overdue debate on how to approach long-term strategic competition with China."

Among the provisions is a list of ten "key technology areas" to be developed by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

The blatantly anti-China provisions include sanctions against Chinese entities accused by the US government or companies of cyberattacks or theft of intellectual property, as well as a review of US export controls aimed at restricting trade. exporting technology to China for various “human rights” and “national security” reasons.

The bill also establishes a fund to counter Chinese influence in the world and encourages "public diplomacy" - that is, the promotion of illusions about the beneficial role of the United States - in the Indo-Pacific region. . The bill also codifies into law the temporary ban on U.S.-China cooperation in space, which has so far had to be extended from year to year.

Much of the bill is a massive slush fund for the computer chip industry. America's share of the world market has fallen from 40 percent in 1990 to just 12 percent today. The $ 52 billion CHIPS for America Fund will subsidize US-based semiconductor producers, primarily Intel and Texas Instruments.

This measure is directed against other Asian countries besides China, because the production delays of the main chip producers in Japan and especially in Taiwan have had a huge impact, especially on the American auto industry.

A series of U.S. cities are expected to engage in bidding wars for new semiconductor factories financed by the fund, similar to the competition for a new Amazon headquarters there. a few years ago. Indianapolis, Indiana, and Buffalo, New York, are said to have a head start in this competition due to Young and Schumer's roles as co-sponsors of Bill.

Some $ 2 billion from the CHIPS fund is earmarked for the manufacture of chips specifically required by the US military and intelligence apparatus.

Approximately $ 81 billion over four years will be distributed by the "National Science Foundation" for research in critical technology fields, both commercial and military. Another $ 17 billion will go directly to research funded by the Department of Energy, which conducts or funds most US research on energy and nuclear weapons.

Another ten billion dollars will fund NASA's manned landing systems program, managed under contract by Blue Origins, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In fact, it is a gift of 10 billion dollars to the richest man in the world. This program also has important military applications, especially as the US government prepares for a fight with China in space.

During the Senate debate, Schumer called the bill a "one-of-a-kind investment in American science and technology." He boasted, saying, "This legislation will put our country on the path to global innovation, production and competition in industries of the future."

“Basically, the US law on innovation and competition aims to maintain America's role as a world economic leader,” he continued. “Today, the reality is that semiconductors are a strategic industry… If we don't take steps to strengthen our competitiveness, it is clear that our competitors will get ahead of us.”

Senior Republican co-sponsor Todd Young explained in detail the ideological basis of the bill. “Right now, the Chinese Communist Party is emphasizing to the whole world that the United States is a divided nation,” he said. "This is a rare opportunity to show the authoritarian regime in Beijing, and the rest of the world, that when our national security is at stake, and especially our policy towards China, we are united."

More than 60 organizations, including anti-war and scientific groups, issued a joint letter warning that its "anti-China framing" would fuel xenophobia. "It is disturbing that the two political parties are increasingly clinging to a dangerously short-sighted worldview that presents China as the main existential threat to the prosperity and security of the United States and which advises competition. with zero sum as the main answer, ”the letter could read.

These concerns are not to the liking of the Democratic and Republican parties. The House of Representatives version of the Senate bill will be presented by Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents part of the San Francisco Bay Area and is Senator Bernie Sanders' main ally in the House of Representatives, constituting thus the so-called “left” of the Democratic Party.

The anti-China message was reinforced in President Biden's speech Thursday afternoon in Cleveland, when he proclaimed the coronavirus pandemic was all but over, hailed the ongoing US economic recovery he said, and said that its aim was to ensure that the United States retained its economic status as "number one in the world".

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