Ten ways Congress can push back against China


The Senate is set to consider a raft of bipartisan legislation promoting competition with China. We have long argued that the US has been in a one-sided fight against an aggressive and insecure Chinese Communist Party, and bipartisan congressional efforts to sharpen America’s competitive edge are welcome. But good policy requires choices. If the US tries to do 100 things at once, it will do nothing well.

The China bills should set clear priorities. Here are 10 recommendations covering economics, military affairs, and foreign policy. These recommendations cross bills and committees.

1) Establish a simple China-related requirement for accepting US government industrial policy aid. To start, all US government industrial policy aid must be offered on a voluntary basis. Firms choosing to accept such aid cannot then enhance cooperation with People’s Republic of China (PRC) entities — that is not why they are being supported. Firms choosing to enhance cooperation with PRC entities should be ineligible.

2) For any government spending intended to enhance US resilience and competitiveness, require the Department of the Treasury to annually report US private investment in competing production in China. Once this is done, a further step is to report US investment support for production elsewhere by Chinese firms.

3) Ban US investment in Chinese firms tied by the Department of State to genocide, classified by the Department of Defense as important to the People’s Liberation Army, and which have violated American law — including on disclosure and protection of intellectual property.

4) Require the Department of Commerce to finally offer definitions of “critical” technologies through completely categorizing “foundational” and “emerging” technologies, thus implementing export controls passed overwhelming in summer 2018. These definitions can then be used or modified by other arms of the US government in determining the most important technology-driven actions.

5) Ensure that the PRC is progressively, fully, and indefinitely cut out of American supply chains for these critical technologies, starting with products in which the Chinese role is largest. This will require US government assistance to domestic suppliers. Once cooperation with allies is formalized, Congress should allow funding for location of critical supply chains in allied countries, as needed.

6) Fund the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) through FY 2027 at the requested amount of $27 billion between 2022 and 2027, with $4.6 billion for FY 2022. The PDI was authorized in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, but not funded. This is urgent, given Chinese actions in the Taiwan Strait. The US military needs a rapid plus-up of long-range, precision-guided munitions; accelerated deployment of additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities; and enhanced air and missile defense in the region. This is the best short-term tool to deter Beijing from starting a conflict.

7) Increase topline funding for Foreign Military Financing (FMF) in the Indo-Pacific. Almost all FMF currently goes to the Middle East. Countries at the heart of Sino-American competition such the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia should receive financing to help defend their territorial interests, become more interoperable with the US, and enhance regional ISR. Additional funding should be tied to those objectives as well as to creating a more permissive environment for the US to pre-position logistics and other military equipment.

8) Tie increased funding of personnel at the Department of State to clear and measurable goals in three main areas:

  • Countering Chinese disinformation in regional and international news media;
  • Implementing US foreign assistance and development finance programs in close coordination with the Export-Import Bank and International Development Finance Corporation; and
  • Advocating free and open standards in international standards setting bodies, coordinating diversification of technology supply chains and joint allied research in research and development for emerging and foundational technologies.

9) Provide greater resources to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) China Initiative to enable more legal cases against non-traditional intellectual property collectors (e.g., researchers in labs, universities, and the defense industrial base) and to enforce laws against unregistered foreign agents seeking to advance CCP political influence goals. The program’s mandate should be expanded to include collecting information to investigate and bring civil and criminal cases against Chinese technology firms breaking US law (e.g. like the case of Huawei).

10) Make the DOJ’s China initiative global by funding and requiring the Department of State to engage in global legal diplomacy that coordinates and shares information with allies and partners to enable them to enforce their laws against the CCP’s subversive influence and to pursue combined allied law enforcement actions.

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