Cybersecurity

Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and a coalition of bipartisan senators on Thursday introduced legislation intended to help the U.S. create international partnerships on emerging technologies to better compete with China. 

The Democracy Technology Partnership Act would create an interagency office at the State Department tasked with coordinating partnerships among the U.S. and other democratic countries to promote research and set standards around emerging technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, 5G and semiconductors. 

In addition, the bill would create a $5 billion International Technology Partnership Fund to help support joint research among democratic nations and academia and industries within those countries. The legislation also calls for strategies to provide alternatives for nations that may be considering buying technology from authoritarian regimes. 

The legislation is overall intended to help democratic nations take a stand against competition from the Chinese Communist Party on emerging technologies. The nation is seen as one of the greatest threats to the United States on a number of fronts. 

"The Chinese Communist Party is working to surpass the U.S. technologically and economically and to export their technologies globally," Warner said in a statement on Thursday. "In order to compete and counter the expansion of Chinese dominance in critical technology sectors, we need to create a strategy that leverages the power of American partnerships to protect and advance our technological edge." 

"This bipartisan legislation will help foster partnerships among the U.S. and like-minded democratic countries to better protect and compete against China in critical emerging technologies while helping set global rules, standards, and protocols for the market," he added. 

Other sponsors of the legislation include Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). 

"Both Democrats and Republicans know that competing with China is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st Century," Schumer said in a separate statement. "This initiative is an important next step in our mission to boost American competitiveness, leverage our alliances abroad and fight China's predatory practices."

Rubio said he hoped the bill would "push" the Biden administration to "lead in this space."

"Too many nations fall prey to the trap of incentives associated with Chinese tech that only results in lost privacy, reduced autonomy, and greater dependence on Beijing," he said in a statement. "The U.S. must lead likeminded countries in establishing and supporting alternatives that are safer and technologically more advanced."

Several former leading officials endorsed the bill Thursday, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served under former President Clinton. 

"The new Technology Partnership they are proposing would be a powerful diplomatic tool to counter authoritarian influence," Albright said in a statement. "It would also promote new avenues of cooperation between democratic nations to secure a better future for us all."

The bill was introduced the day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken described China as one of the key threats to the United States during his first major speech in office.

"China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system, all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people," Blinken said. 

"Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, adversarial when it must be," he added.

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