The U.S. Senate has passed legislation that provides more than $ 250 billion to help maintain a competitive advantage over China in areas from artificial intelligence and quantum computing to semiconductors.
The Senate voted Tuesday 68-32 to pass the bill, underscoring broad bipartisan support in Congress for action. against Beijing. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act combines various measures relating to China into the largest piece of industrial policy legislation in decades.
The legislation provides $ 52 billion to bolster the semiconductor industry on the growing concerns that the United States is too dependent on countries like Taiwan at the same time that China is looking to build its semiconductor industry.
Part of the project, known as the Endless Frontier Act, provides about $ 120 billion for investment in technologies such as AI and quantum computing that China has given priority as part of its policy. industrial for cutting-edge technology.
In addition to providing huge investments in technology, the 1,445-page bill includes a series of measures to limit China. One prevents government agencies from buying drones manufactured by Chinese companies, including DJI, the largest manufacturer of commercial drones in the world.
The legislation also prohibits federal employees from downloading TikTok, the popular short video app, on e-government devices.
The bill would ask the State Department and the intelligence community to provide Congress with a report on Chinese influence in international institutions, including the World Bank, the IMF, the UN and the United Nations. World Trade Organization.
China is the only issue in Congress where there is a bipartisan consensus, with lawmakers agreeing on the need to take a tougher position. Politicians have introduced hundreds of bills to punish China for everything from its Uyghur repression to its military activity in the seas of South and East China. But U.S. officials are increasingly aware of the growing role that technology plays in competition between the two countries.
Kurt Campbell, the first White House official on Indo-Pacific policy, said Tuesday that the legislation was a critical part of Washington’s effort to make itself more competitive in a broad strategy to tackle China.
He said the Infinite Frontier Act was “an effort to make it clear that the new bastions of competition, which define American leadership, will be increasingly in technology, and we are determined to take steps to run faster.” .
The push to increase investment in technology comes amid warnings that China is quickly capturing, and in some cases has already surpassed, US in technologies that are increasingly important for military use.
The National Commission on Artificial Intelligence in March warned that China could overtake the United States as the world’s AI superpower in a decade. Eric Schmidt, a former Google chief executive who chaired the commission, said the United States was “close to losing” its edge in microelectronics because of the United States’ over-reliance on Taiwan.
The House of Representatives is scheduled for next week to begin discussion of its own China project. While the Senate bill has gained an easy passage, there is expected to be a significant debate in the House on how the two chambers will combine their respective legislation into a package that would gain enough support throughout Congress and be signed into law by the President Joe Biden.