Speaker Pelosi: Advance a balanced approach to U.S.-China relations

As the House and Senate work out details on a sweeping innovation bill to boost the U.S. ability to compete with China in manufacturing and trade, WAND joins with XX groups to urge a more measured approach to U.S.-China relations. Division C of the Senate's U.S. Innovation and Competition Act contains provisions that would unnecessarily increase regional tensions, endanger diplomatic flexibility, and is likely to contribute to anti-Asian racism in the U.S. While there are deep and legitimate concerns regarding China's human rights record and foreign policy, the approach advanced by the Senate bill will only ramp up tensions and drive us closer to potential conflict. The EAGLE Act, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks offers a more balanced approach to U.S.-China policy. We urge Speaker Pelosi to ensure this legislation is fully considered through regular order to give Members the opportunity to scrutinize and debate the legislation, rather than rush through a bill with far-reaching and potentially devastating implications.

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi:


We, the undersigned groups, are writing to urge you to support efforts by House Democrats to advance a more balanced and reasonable national security approach to competition with China than was passed by the Senate in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.


Even as our country takes steps to address the challenge of the rise of China, we should seek to preserve the policies in place since the 1970s which have kept the peace between the United States and China. Division C of the Senate legislation (also known as the Strategic Competition Act or SCA) contains multiple provisions that would unnecessarily increase regional tensions, endanger essential diplomatic flexibility, and could inadvertently contribute to a growing climate of anti-Asian racism in America. By provoking excessive escalation and conflict, many provisions would make it harder, not easier, to address the very real issues of concern in Chinese behavior and to address issues of mutual concern ranging from climate change to nuclear proliferation.


Elements of the SCA would sharply restrict the ability of the State Department and other government agencies to maintain long standing American policies that have helped to keep the peace with China in the Taiwan Strait, including the U.S. “One China Policy”. By narrowing the scope for diplomacy and increasing tensions with China in this critical area, the legislation could endanger our allies by risking destructive escalation with China. The legislation would also force the executive branch to sustain UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea until full denuclearization, cutting off opportunities for diplomatic negotiations and creating significant humanitarian costs for the North Korean people. As the Biden administration re-engages with the world, we should not tie its hands in conducting sensitive diplomacy and negotiations with other major powers, including China.


These are hardly the only objectionable elements of the Senate bill. Section 3310 of the Senate bill also undermines the State Department’s ability to conduct diplomacy. It restricts the ability of U.S. diplomats to conduct sensitive negotiations with other countries by mandating overbroad and premature public disclosure of steps taken on the road to concluding a final treaty. Other elements in the bill would unnecessarily chill peaceful cooperative exchanges with China and threaten the civil liberties of Asian-Americans.


In sum, provisions in Division C of S. 1260 go well beyond what is called for in addressing the many legitimate areas of concern with China’s behavior and its potential conflict with U.S. interests, and could ultimately be counterproductive.


In contrast, the EAGLE Act advanced by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks is a strong strategic response to China but takes a more balanced and less extreme approach, one that does not include many of the most objectionable elements of the Senate bill. While the signers of this letter do not necessarily agree with all elements of the EAGLE Act, the contrast between this legislation and the SCA shows the value of separate consideration of China policy by the House.


We urge you to ensure that China-related national security legislation that you bring to the floor has been considered through regular order in a manner that permits members to fully scrutinize the legislation, debate crucial issues, and offer amendments. We believe the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House of Representatives deserve a say in this important policy debate and encourage you to support a meaningful debate before moving toward final passage.


Sincerely,

Women's Action for New Directions