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Preventing Foreign Technology Theft is Aim of New House Bill

Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives on 22 January seeks to safeguard U.S. technology and intellectual property from export to or influence by mainland China and to protect U.S. businesses from unfair competition by the mainland.

“Beijing’s Made in China 2025 initiative has made it clear that the Chinese government’s objective is to drive American companies out of business and move their technology and jobs to China at any cost, including the use of illegal trade practices,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (Republican-Texas), one of the bill’s sponsors. The Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act (H.R. 704) would respond by “barring the sale of national security sensitive U.S. intellectual property and technology to China, as well as ensuring that China is paying its fair share in taxes.”

According to a press release from Conaway’s office, H.R. 704 is the companion legislation to S. 2, which would create an Office of Critical Technologies and Security at the White House that would be responsible for co-ordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains. “While the United States is operating in a 24-hour news cycle, China has a long term plan reaching 50 to 100 years,” explained bill co-sponsor Rep. Tim Ryan (Republican-Ohio). “We need to get ahead of the game and strengthen our economy, and this legislation will put us on that path forward.”

The new office would be directed to co-ordinate and consult with federal and state technology and telecommunications regulators, the private sector, non-governmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilised to safeguard supply chains and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The goal is to improve the federal response to challenges such as mainland China and other nations attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies as well as U.S. reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks (e.g., those manufactured by mainland Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei).

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