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Donald Trump

Bipartisan US bill seeks to toughen Donald Trump’s approach to China

  • The bill is a sign of growing unease with Trump’s attitude toward China and worries that national security concerns will be given short shrift
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 3:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2019, 4:09am

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Martin Matishak on politico.com on January 4, 2019.

A bipartisan pair of Senate lawmakers proposed legislation on Friday to compel the Trump administration to take a stronger stance against digital and technological threats from countries such as China.

The bill from Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who also serves on the panel, is the latest sign of growing, bipartisan unease with US President Donald Trump’s attitude toward China and worries that national security concerns will be given short shrift as the White House pursues a trade deal with Beijing.

Those fears grew last month when Trump suggested that he might use the case of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei who was arrested in Vancouver for violating US sanctions on Iran, as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

“It is clear that China is determined to use every tool in its arsenal to surpass the United States technologically and dominate us economically,” Warner, a former tech executive, said in a statement.

"We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect US competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat by combating technology transfer from the United States.”

In recent months, the administration has started to strike back harder against Chinese hacking meant to steal US trade secrets.

In a sweeping indictment in December, the Justice Department charged two men connected with the China’s Ministry of State Security for carrying out a global attack that targeted dozens of organisations and businesses.

The proposed measure would establish an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House to coordinate efforts across federal agencies and develop a national strategy to combat state-sponsored technology theft and eliminate risks to supply chains.

The new agency would work with federal and state tech and telecommunications regulators, as well the private sector, non-government experts and international allies to shore up critical supply chains against dual-use technologies.

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In addition, the new entity would also work to raise awareness about such threats to the American public and the private sector when it comes to reliance on foreign products such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE.

“China continues to conduct a coordinated assault on US intellectual property, US businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Rubio said in a statement.

The US "needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect US technology,” he added.

The intelligence panel has been sounding the alarm for months about the threats posed by Chinese tech firms. Last month, Warner revealed that he, committee Chairman Richard Burr and other panel members have undertaken an "information campaign" to educate American business about the dangers of doing business with Beijing.

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With the consent of the US intelligence community, lawmakers have provided corporate officers and tech executives classified information about potential risks on a “one-off, read-in basis”, Warner said during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Council’s Annual Forum.

In October, Warner and Rubio wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to register alarm over the prospect of Huawei or other Chinese state-directed companies being included in the development of Canada’s 5G network.

Warner and Rubio both said they look forward to working with their colleagues, and the administration, to get the legislation enacted.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/04/bipartisan-bill-trump-approach-china-1060974