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What one needs to know about the Senate bipartisan bill to counter China



The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is preparing to vote on a 280-page bipartisan proposal aimed at countering the global influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The bill marks the culmination of years of growing concern over the emergence of an increasingly authoritarian China. It would set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for a series of new initiatives aimed at helping the United States succeed in long-term ideological, military, economic and technological competition.

What happens: President Bob Menendez (Sen.J.) for Senate Foreign Relations and rank member Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) announced on April 8 the “Strategic Competition Act of 2021

”.

  • The committee is scheduled to vote on the draft bill on April 21. If passed, it will go to the Senate for further debate.

Details: The bill includes $ 655 million in funding for foreign military in the Indo-Pacific region and $ 450 million for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, which aims to ensure the United States and its partners can operate freely in the region and tackle emerging threats.

Other new programs and awards include:

  • $ 75 million for an ” Infrastructure Transaction and Aid Network ” in the Indian Pacific as a counterweight to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • $ 100 million for a ” Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership ”, which will promote secure telecommunications and digital infrastructure in emerging markets and promote US exports.
  • $ 15 million to help U.S. companies leave the Chinese market, diversify their supply chains, and identify alternative markets.
  • $ 300 million to the Countering Chinese Influence Fund to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to promote its authoritarian model abroad.

What they say: Menendez called the bill an “unprecedented bipartisan effort to mobilize all U.S. strategic, economic and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that enables our nation to confront the challenges facing China in our national and economic security.”

  • Lisa Curtis, director of the Center for a New US Security Indo-Pacific Security Program and a former director of the National Security Council for South and Central Asia, said the bill “shows that the United States is preparing for an entire government’s comprehensive approach to meeting the China challenge.”
  • If passed, the bill would be a strong signal to U.S. allies and partners that the United States is united in its approach to Beijing, Curtis added.
  • Curtis also noted that the draft bill also requires a thorough investigation into the origin of coronavirus. “The bill notes that 13 countries have raised concerns about the lack of access that the WHO mission to China had to data, facilities and staff. It is crucial that the Senate has marked this as an issue,” she said.

Link: The Biden administration has made it a key focus to counter China’s growing global authoritarianism.

  • In Washington, there is a high degree of bipartisanship around the idea that China, under its current leadership, poses a serious threat to American values ​​and interests.

But: Americans as a whole are more divided along party lines in their views on China, with 54% of Republicans considering China an “enemy” compared to 20% of Democrats, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.

Go deeper: Read the draft bill


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