In-Depth: Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced this bill to answer China’s security, economic and political challenges to the U.S by harnessing at least ten government agencies’ resources to help counter China’s multifaceted challenge to the United States:
“From its unfair trade practices to its rapid military expansion, China now presents security, economic, and political challenges to the United States unlike any we’ve faced before. China is acting swiftly and aggressively to expand its power and influence around the globe, and Congress must do its part to ensure the United States is positioned to work with China where we can, but also, push back where we must.”
Original Senate cosponsor Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) contends that while the U.S. should cooperate with China on global issues, that position isn’t incongruous with defending U.S. interests against Chinese encroachment:
“For too long, the United States has failed to address the challenge that China poses to our economy, our allies in East Asia, and to international norms on human rights and civil liberties. It is now clear that a new approach is needed, and this bill will begin to lay the foundation for a reassessment of the U.S.-China relationship. Although I believe we should cooperate with China to resolve pressing global issues, we cannot shy away from defending U.S. interests and the international system that has brought peace and prosperity to the Pacific region.”
Original Senate cosponsor Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) adds:
“We must develop a comprehensive strategy to confront the unprecedented challenge that the Chinese government poses to U.S. national security, U.S. intellectual property, and U.S. businesses. By putting into place the recommendations of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, this bill takes a step in the right direction and puts safeguards in place to confront the critical threat China poses.”
House sponsor Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, says:
“For too long China has been stealing U.S. technology and jobs with impunity and it is increasingly trying to influence public opinion in the United States. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Act of 2019 would create a whole-of-government approach to counter China’s whole-of-society challenge.”
Original House cosponsor Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) adds that this bill is needed to counter China’s influence:
“The United States faces no greater economic, political, and security threat than China. We must act with a sense of urgency to address the malign activities of the Chinese Communist Party and implementing the important recommendations of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission would serve as an important step in doing so.”
Critics of a hardline approach to U.S.-China relations argue that it endangers stable relations and contend that there are numerous benefits to continued engagement and cooperation with China. They also point out that the costs of dealing with Chinese retaliation to hardline U.S. policies could be high, as the two countries’ economies are tightly intertwined and Asian partners and allies also have consumers, businesses, and stockholders that’d be negatively affected by a deterioration in U.S.-China relations.
This legislation has two bipartisan Senate cosponsors (one from each party). Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), has five bipartisan House cosponsors, including three Democrats and two Republicans. As of August 27, 2019, neither bill had received a committee vote.
Of Note: In its 2018 annual report to Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission made 26 recommendations to Congress, 10 of which it deemed to be “of particular significance.” The Commission’s 10 key recommendations are all included in this bill.
The U.S. began embracing a whole-of-government strategy to address the challenges posed by China beginning in late summer 2018. Congress led the push via legislation, hearings and statements targeting Chinese practices; the Trump administration used tariffs to also punish China; and administration officials turned up the rhetorical heat on China in public statements, interviews and editorials.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / narvikk)