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China Daily Global / 2021-05 / 20 / Page003

Groups oppose US anti-China bill

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-05-20 00:00

Sixty-five civil society organizations jointly sign letter saying bipartisan act is dangerous

Sixty-five civil society groups in the United States have signed a joint letter to the Congress and the Biden administration calling on them to oppose an anti-China bill that the organizations said is "dangerous and self-defeating".

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 last month. The bipartisan bill is designed to confront China's economic and geopolitical power globally. It is expected to receive a vote on the Senate floor this month.

In response to the act, the organizations said in the letter on Monday that they represented millions of US people and were "deeply concerned about the growing Cold War mentality driving the US approach to China".

"Worryingly, both political parties are increasingly latching onto a dangerously shortsighted worldview that presents China as the pivotal existential threat to US prosperity and security and counsels zero-sum competition as the primary response," the letter said.

The act is seen as the latest move by US lawmakers to intensify their efforts to counter China, taking aim on multiple fronts, including human rights, economic competition and international influence.

The signatory organizations, including peace, immigrant and environmental advocates, said the US should cooperate with China to address "true global security challenges", such as economic inequality, climate change and pandemics; however, the act "creates a political environment that leaves little room for such cooperation".

"The Strategic Competition Act's text identifies 'China' 256 times and mentions 'the PRC' (People's Republic of China) 220 times, but includes no provisions for US cooperation or respectful relations with China," said Madison Tang, coordinator of the "China Is Not Our Enemy" campaign with Code Pink, an anti-war organization.

"This reinvigorated wave of McCarthyism, Yellow Peril rhetoric and military funding focused solely on 'containing' and destabilizing an emerging China," said Tang. "It will only escalate tensions and increase the potential for war, while further emboldening Sinophobic violence against Asians and Asian Americans within the US."

The joint letter also said that the "anti-China framing" is not only politically unnecessary but also harmful, as it "inevitably feeds racism, violence, xenophobia, and white nationalism".

Instead of "wasting more money on the Pentagon and inflaming ethnonationalism and racism", Congress and the Biden administration should focus more on pressing domestic issues, such as strengthening labor and raising wages, rooting out systemic racism, and ensuring affordable healthcare, housing and education, the organizations said in the letter.

"What everyday Americans need to secure their futures is not the suppression of the Chinese economy-one that is intimately intertwined with our own-but a fundamental restructuring of our own economy through investments in innovation and green jobs," they said.

The act calls for more than $1 billion to increase Washington's global influence, which includes providing funds to counter Chinese influence around the world and a program to counter the Belt and Road Initiative.

What's "most alarming" about the act is the increase of US military aggression toward China by providing an "exorbitant" $655 million in funding for foreign militaries in the Indo-Pacific region and $450 million for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, Code Pink said in a statement.

It said that the act risks institutionalizing a framework that is "hauntingly" familiar to the way Democrats joined Republicans in the late 1990s to pass the Iraq Liberation Act that paved the way for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"The alleged threat of China is being used as the sole justification for the increase in the Pentagon budget, as well as for the additional military funding for the Western Pacific region in the Strategic Competition Act," said Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink. "Don't let the State Department manufacture consent for war and more exorbitant military spending by falsely positioning China as an enemy," she said.

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