U.S Senate Passes Sweeping Bill to Counter China Technology Reach

US Senate lawmakers have approved a massive spending plan to boost technology research and production.

The proposed measures come in the face of growing international competition, particularly from China.

A Beijing official hit back at the bill on Wednesday, saying it “exaggerated the ‘China threat'”.

The bill, which must pass the House of Representatives before being signed into law, is a rare point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats.

In a vote in the upper chamber of the US Congress, 68 of the 100-member Senate supported the measure, with 32 against. The Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and experts say the vote shows how the two political parties are united on the need to counter Beijing’s economic and military ambitions.

Supporters say the package is one of the largest industrial bills in US history and the biggest investment in scientific research that the country has seen in decades.

“I believe that this legislation will enable the United States to out-innovate, out-produce, and out-compete the world in the industries of the future,” Senate majority leader and co-sponsor of the bill Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor.

It authorizes roughly $250bn (£176bn) in funding for technology research, semiconductor development and manufacturing, as well as subsidies for robot makers and chipmakers amid a shortage of computer chips worldwide.

The computer chip shortage has hit automobile production at a time of rebounding global demand and bosses of big tech firms have told the BBC it could last as long as two years.

The bill includes several China-specific provisions, including the prohibition of the social media app TikTok from being downloaded on government devices.

The purchase of drones manufactured and sold by Chinese state enterprises would also be blocked under the legislation.

Chinese organizations engaged in US cyber-attacks or theft of US intellectual property from US firms would face sanctions too, once the bill is passed.

The legislation was passed amid some signs of a thaw in relations between Beijing and Washington. In May, China and the US held virtual talks between trade negotiators in the first such meeting of the Biden presidency.

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This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt