Washington: Three of President Joe Biden’s cabinet members will testify on China policy at a U.S. Senate hearing, a rare joint appearance underscoring Washington’s focus on competing with the rising Asian power.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo will be witnesses at a 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Biden’s budget request as it relates to security, competitiveness and the path ahead for the U.S.-China relationship.
Cabinet secretaries rarely testify together at public hearings, but lawmakers from both parties and Biden’s Democratic administration have been vying to show that they view the Chinese Communist government as the greatest challenge Washington faces.
Senator Patty Murray, chairperson of the Appropriations panel, invoked competition with China to push back against Republican calls for cuts in non-military spending, as time runs short to negotiate a deal to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling and avert an economically catastrophic default.
“Let’s be clear: China isn’t debating whether to pay its debts or wreck its economy. China isn’t debating whether to invest in its future or cut and cap the investments that keep it competitive,” Murray said in prepared remarks to open the hearing.
Two weeks ago Senate Democrats announced a renewed legislative effort to stave off competition from China.
Last week Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, as both sides sought to move beyond an alleged spy balloon incident that caused a pause in relations this year between the two economic superpowers.
The Defense Department said the cabinet members would address the “all of government” approach the administration was taking in dealing with China.
A hard line on China is a rare bipartisan sentiment in the deeply divided U.S. capital.
With strong support from both Democrats and Republicans, Congress last year passed – and Biden signed into law – the sweeping “Chips and Science Act” authorizing hundreds of billions of dollars to boost competition with Beijing in semiconductors and other technology.
Lawmakers are now looking at deterring China from initiating a conflict with Taiwan, improving relationships with third countries to ward off Chinese competition, tightening rules to block U.S. capital from going to Chinese companies and limiting the flow of U.S. technology to China.
They are also scrutinizing possible security threats from China, including looking at TikTok, an app owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance.
The app has been banned from government-issued phones in countries such as Canada and Australia over concerns China can access user data or influence what people see. Reuters
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