November 22, 2022
This past week, President Joe Biden headed to Indonesia for the G-20 summit. During his time there, Biden had a three-hour face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. After the meeting, Biden openly declared that there “need not be a new Cold War” between China and the United States. While the sentiments coming from the White House are positive, it’s not the reality. China and the United States have been engaged in an escalating technological cold war for the past few decades and Congress has a critical opportunity to give America the upper hand before the end of the year. Even as some in Washington have become more interested in promoting Chinese priorities, it is vital Congress put America first.
For the past twenty-plus years, China and the United States have been competing for economic and now technological superiority. It’s no secret that China has made tremendous gains on this front. In 2017, China set a goal to increase its domestic content of high-tech manufacturing by 70 percent by the year 2025. The goal is to make the rest of the world dependent on Chinese-owned and operated businesses for all new technology.
Perhaps the greatest threat involves the production of Chinese semiconductors. Over the past decade, China has significantly ramped up its ability to produce advanced semiconductors. Its goal is to be fully self-sufficient and to make its adversaries – namely, the U.S. military – dependent on it. This is where Congress needs to step up.
In 2019, as part of National Defense Authorization Act, Congress passed a law that prohibited federal agencies from using telecommunications and surveillance equipment from major Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Hytera, and Dahua. It also blocked the U.S. government from contracting with any company that uses equipment that includes technology from these companies. It was a major win for American security. It made government communication and information sharing more secure while protecting our critical infrastructure and defense community systems from outside intrusion. But this important measure needs to be expanded to include the threat of Chinese semiconductors.
Before the end of the year, Congress will pass another defense bill. There is a bipartisan effort in the Senate to ensure that Chinese semiconductors are not used by our government or military. Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republican John Cornyn (R-TX) are sponsoring an amendment to bar the U.S. government from using products that are produced by the Chinese Communist Party’s three national champion semiconductor producers (SMIC, CXMT, and YMTC). It’s important legislation that the Senate should pass immediately.
Republican leaders in the Senate like Cornyn, Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and soon-to-be Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) understand how important this effort is for America’s security. But that’s not true of everyone in Washington these days.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has become, in essence, a Beijing puppet. The U.S. Chamber leadership team has been actively opposing the Schumer/Cornyn amendment. Ultimately, the Chamber is doing the bidding of Davos CEOs who are more interested in globalism than promoting American security; they want to keep spending taxpayer dollars on cheap, Chinese-made chips. They're putting their corporate profits – built through sending America's advanced manufacturing to China – before the American taxpayer and U.S. national security. The Chamber has even recruited retiring Senators like Rob Portman (R-OH) to oppose this critical amendment. That’s shameful. At the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce, which I lead, we would never sacrifice American security or business interests in the name of making a buck from a foreign adversary.
The Senate has an opportunity to help keep America’s government secure and her people prosperous by protecting against Chinese cyber threats and any dependence on China for our critical infrastructure and defense capabilities. This should be an easy choice for the Chamber and our government contractors: either stand with American taxpayers or with the CCP’s chipmakers that steal U.S. intellectual property and fuel the Chinese military. The stakes are too high to put America second.
American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce