Apple, Cisco and other US companies with deep ties to China are under increasing pressure to address Beijing’s “crackdown on human rights and democracy,” one of President Joe Biden’s key allies in the Senate said Thursday. on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”.
The comments by Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., Came two days after his chamber passed a bipartisan bill to boost America’s competitiveness with China.
Coons compared the relationship between the United States and China to the “decoupling” of the United States from the former Soviet Union during the Cold War.
While America’s trade ties are now much stronger with China than with the USSR, Coons said there is “a gradual rift” between the two economic superpowers.
Coons, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also argued that Chinese behavior in his own country and around the world is increasingly difficult to ignore.
The most important Great Wall of China of this century, Coons said, is what he called the “Great Firewall of China” that the government uses to “block the Internet in China and demand censorship and use it to coordinate surveillance and repression of its own. ” people.”
Coons also noted that the Biden and Trump administrations called China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province a genocide.
Companies trying to manufacture and operate in both countries “face increasingly difficult questions in the West about what they are doing to help facilitate the crackdown on human rights and democracy in China and by the Chinese elsewhere. of the world”. Coons said.
When asked what those companies should say to China right now, Coons replied, “Stop stealing our intellectual property.”
“They force you to transfer technology to your Chinese operations and then, frankly, they steal it from you,” he said. “They are competing with us in vaccine diplomacy and fighting for the next generation of technology.”
Coons praised a $ 250 billion manufacturing and technology bill, which is specifically aimed at positioning the United States to better compete with China. The legislation, dubbed the US Competition and Innovation Act, passed the Senate on Tuesday with rare bipartisan support.
The bill’s considerable investments in semiconductors, 5G, quantum computing and other industries “will make it much more likely that the United States and our close allies will be ahead of the curve, rather than behind the curve, in the next generation. of technologies that are dual ”. for civil and military use, “Coons said.
Competing with China will mean “coordinating our investments in new technologies,” Coons said.
He gave an example of then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging US allies not to use Chinese telecoms giant Huawei due to security concerns.
“What a lot of our allies said was, ‘Well that’s interesting. What is your alternative? ‘ And there was no American alternative, “Coons said.
“We need to invest to be competitive in this century with China.”