Congress' Strategic Competition Act will come back to bite America
Editor's note: William Jones is a Washington policy analyst and non-resident fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 on April 21. The mastodon legislation will be further the attempts by the U.S. government to monitor and restrict China's technological development with the explicit goal of slowing it down or, indeed, sabotaging it completely.
Listening to the debate in the committee hearing April 21, one felt that one was attending a "kangaroo court" in which the verdict of the court had been determined even before the evidence had been heard. And, of course, there was no "evidence" presented here, but only the usual "hearsay" which is proliferating in our halls of government on such bogus issues like "forced labor" in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region or the suppression of "human rights," and "unfair competition," or "intellectual theft."
The only objection to aspects of the legislation that were raised by the attending congressmen were by those who objected to the amount of money being spent on the various government programs backing up the "competitive" efforts of the United States, or those who wanted even more egregious breaches of the U.S.-China agreement, for instance, on the status of Taiwan.
Unfortunately, there has been such a "drumbeat" on the China question by the political establishment, and a very compliant media, that the atmosphere within the Washington Beltway has almost unilaterally taken an anti-China direction. Much of the debate over the issue, however, is geared to forming public opinion "in the hustings" back home, where there is by no means such unanimity on the questions of China. Recent polls of Americans show that less than 50 percent of Americans feel that China is the "greatest enemy" of the United States, which Congress and the administration claim.
South China's Shenzhen cityscape. /CFP
South China's Shenzhen cityscape. /CFP
This is even more the case when you look at global opinion. And although efforts are being made by the U.S. in bringing our so-called "allies" on board this program, there is much more skepticism to the U.S. claims, where China and Chinese projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have been doing a lot of good. Not least of all in Latin America, now suddenly gain more attention from Congress, which had previously forgotten that they are indeed our "neighbors."
While the rise of China has brought home to our lawmakers the fact that the U.S. as an industrial power has become something of a "rust bucket," they could have learned that lesson in the 1970s when economists like the late Lyndon LaRouche addressed Congress on numerous occasions, warning that the U.S. economy under the post-Bretton Woods regime was being deindustrialized by the "outsourcing" of our industries to low-wage countries. But Wall Street profited from it, so nothing was done. But framing the revival of American industry today in the context of "China-bashing" is not only counter-productive, but also dangerous.
Any attempts to "decouple" the U.S. economy from China will hit U.S. industry hard. Building new "supply chains" may take years, perhaps decades. And making China an enemy, which it is not today, will call forth reciprocal measures that will hurt American industry. That's why most U.S. business people are also not convinced that China is America's "greatest enemy." The present legislation targets them as well for not getting on board the administration's "anti-China" train.
Most infuriating with the whole dog-and-pony show is the fact that the United States cannot really stop China's development. China now possesses the largest domestic market in the world and a population that still has a long way to go before they have come up to the level of a middle-income country, and thus represents a source of continued growth.
And they have the resources, and, more importantly, the "brain power" to do things on their own. This lunatic campaign being waged by Congress and the administration in trying to impose some form of "technological apartheid" on China is not only totally immoral, but also ultimately futile.
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