Washington: A bipartisan group of US senators has introduced a legislation to monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation strategies.
The legislation, introduced on Wednesday, would require President Joe Biden to establish the China Censorship Monitor and Action Group, an inter-agency task force to oversee the development and execution of a strategy to better understand and respond to the ramifications of China’s censorship of Americans and US companies.
The task force would create an annual report, complete congressional briefings and be chaired by the National Security Council staff and include a vice chair from the National Economic Council staff with representation from a broad range of US government agencies.
The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Merkley — who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will be the Chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China for the 117th Congress along with senators Marco Rubio, Elizabeth Warren and John Cornyn.
In addition, the bill would require a non-partisan research organisation or federally funded research and development centre to develop a report detailing major trends, patterns, and methods of China’s censorship and intimidation and their effects on the US.
This information is critical to crafting best practices for American industries and companies, the US government and individual Americans.
The ability to express oneself and make one’s voice heard is a fundamental human right — one that billions around the world cherish, and billions more yearn for, said Merkley.
We must monitor and address the impacts of China’s censorship and intimidation of Americans and our companies, so we can create a strategy to safeguard this bedrock freedom and hold those accountable who suppress and destroy it, he said.
According to Senator Rubio, the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party continue to use censorship and intimidation to bully American companies on issues deemed sensitive to the CCP.
By highlighting Beijing’s coercive efforts against American citizens and companies, this interagency task force will shine a light on the long arm of China’s authoritarian reach, he said.
“For years, the Chinese government has weaponised political censorship in order to intimidate and silence anyone who opposes them. Texans who speak their minds should never have to live in fear of recriminations from a foreign adversary like the Chinese Communist Party,” said Senator Cornyn.
“This legislation would urge President Biden to take critical steps to combat China’s rampant and dangerous regime of censorship, and I am proud to support it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for stopping once and for all China’s predatory practices.
On the Senate floor, Schumer said he has asked the chairs and members of our relevant Senate committees to begin work on legislation to enable the US to outcompete China and create American jobs.
At the core of this effort will be the Endless Frontier Act. This is bipartisan legislation that Senator (Todd) Young and I have drafted together over a year ago. It would surge resources into the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce to advance American innovation in a number of critical technologies, he said.
“The new legislation must achieve three goals: one, boost American competitiveness by investing in our economy and our workers; two, leverage our alliances abroad; and three, stop once and for all China’s predatory practices, Schumer said.
He alleged that for decades, China has “effectively cheated and stolen its way to economic growth: engaging in brazen theft of American intellectual property via cyber operations, forced technology transfers, the dumping of cheap goods into our economy, and, for a while, the pernicious manipulation of its currency”.
American workers, academics, and businesses of all sizes have paid the price to the tune of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth. More recently, China has directed its energy, and mercantilist policies, towards beating the US and like-minded countries to the pole position on all the leading technologies of the 21st Century, he said.