US Tech Competition With China Draws Bipartisan Support

This week a U.S.-government backed commission of technology experts completed a three-year review of the country’s artificial intelligence capabilities, urging the development of a new national technology strategy to stay competitive with China.The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) has been studying how artificial intelligence and machine learning can address U.S. national security and defense needs. It recommended spending billions of dollars more on research, diversifying the American industrial supply chain for microchips and other high-tech products, and reforming immigration policies to attract talented researchers and workers.Some of those steps are under way. Republican and Democratic lawmakers are now focusing more on ways to address technological competition with China, following years in which officials say China carried out corporate espionage and forced technology transfers to rapidly advance its technological capabilities.Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., talks to reporters on Jan. 28, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.On Thursday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation aiming to help the U.S. government develop more technology partnerships with allies to counter China’s rise in artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum computing and other areas.The bill, led by Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, a former technology entrepreneur, would create a new interagency office within the State Department focusing on coordinating tech strategies with other democratic nations. It would also create a $5 billion fund supporting research projects between government and private companies.In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged a bipartisan effort to draft a bill investing in disruptive new technologies to challenge China.Also last week, President Joe Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 12, 2018.Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told VOA Mandarin he believes the bill will receive broad bipartisan support.“On the broad issue of China, supply chain is one element of it. But we are working on the broader issue of how do we both compete with China and how do we confront China,” Menendez said, “I think there’s plenty of room where there should be a common ground that we can come together.”He added that he has been discussing America’s China policy with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and the State Department is conducting its own comprehensive evaluation on current China policies.“There’s a whole of government review vis-a-vis China, which I applaud,” Menendez told VOA.Similar efforts are ongoing in the U.S. Congress, where several Republican legislators are pushing the White House to maintain former President Donald Trump’s hardline posture on China.Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla, speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 29, 2020 in Washington.Representative Greg Steube, a Florida Republican, introduced the Keep Huawei on the Entity List Act on Wednesday, which would continue export controls and keep China’s telecommunication firm Huawei on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s entity list.“Huawei is one of the most powerful tools that the Chinese Communist Party can use for espionage and potential destruction against the United States,” Steube said in a statement.James Lankford, a Republican senator from Oklahoma, said that he and his colleagues have been talking with the White House about keeping some of the Trump-era policies on China.“We want to make it very clear. And that policy shouldn’t be thrown aside just because they have the name Trump in front of them,” he told VOA. “If there were good policies, and they were good policies, and they should remain.”Artificial intelligence for the futureThe artificial intelligence report recommends that the Department of Defense must have the foundations in place by 2025 for widespread adoption of artificial intelligence systems.The commission also addressed the ethics of using AI-enabled and autonomous weapons. For now, it said the Defense Department has adequate protections in place so that such weapons do not require a global ban and can continue to be used in accordance with international humanitarian law. It recommended establishing systems to build confidence in AI technology and keeping humans in the decision chain for deploying nuclear weapons.Lin Yang contributed to this report.

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