U.S. legislators planning an economic struggle with China have some questions about Canada

This story is part of Watching Washington, a report regularly sent by CBC News reporters on American politics and developments affecting Canadians.

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Look up, Canada. One of the most important political issues of our time is the passing of an important piece of legislation advanced by the U.S. Congress-it involves you.

The question is: in an era of increasing international tensions, what is the strategy to deal with China?

A bill that has just received bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate will force the Biden administration to formulate plans for cooperation with allies on China-related issues.

There is a long paragraph about Canada.

It represents part of a huge 1,400-page bill designed to prepare the United States for an era of long-term competition with China.

“[This is] It may look like a new and enduring Cold War strategy,” said Eric Miller, a Canadian-born trade adviser in Washington.

“This will lay the foundation for how the United States will consider cooperating with Canada in formulating strategies in the coming years.

Canadian part Bill, Which is called the United States Innovation and Competition Law, First of all praising Canada-US relations-praising Ottawa for handling extradition cases Huawei executive Meng WanzhouAnd condemned the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Cumming in China.

Then it raised challenging questions.

If passed by the House of Representatives, the bill will become law and will force the government to submit a report on Canada within 90 days.

This report must explain where Canada and the United States agree on managing their relationship with China—and where they disagree.

If the bill is passed in another house of Congress, it will become law. The White House will have 90 days to publish a strategy explaining its consistency and differences with Canada on China issues. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

It will focus on the spread of trade, cyber security, Huawei and 5G networks, critical mineral resources, national defense, the Arctic, global institutions, organized crime, and authoritarian governments.

The bill will then require the current US government, and perhaps the future government, to report to Congress on the progress of the strategy at least twice a year for five years.

The report is available for public viewing, but may contain confidential parts.

The United States has previously urged Canada to take a tougher stance on some issues related to China, such as banning Huawei from participating in the final 5G network. Canada has not yet made a decision.

The bill requires similar reports on the relationship between the United States and other entities (such as NATO and the European Union); and regions such as the Caribbean; and countries such as Australia and Japan.

But this is not the legislative part that has received the most attention in the United States

The United States hopes that allies will exclude Huawei products from any final 5G network. Canada has not announced its policy yet. (Dado Luvi?/Reuters)

What is the context?

The bigger story of the bill is the economic problem: the free market era is becoming obsolete, replaced by government-mandated industrial policies.

This trend seems to be bipartisan.

The change in attitude began with Donald Trump, and his trade representative Robert Lighthizer wrote In a paper The ideal trade policy must not only be cheap goods, but also give priority to domestic manufacturing and working-class jobs.

A new strategy document issued by the White House this week emphasizes the extent to which the Biden administration agrees with this view.

This 250 pages The paper recommends establishing domestic production capacity for key products to reduce the US’s dependence on imports from certain other places (the paper mentions China 458 times).

These key products include semiconductors, batteries, pharmaceuticals, and key minerals. The United States also hopes to start importing more products from allied countries such as Canada.

The bill passed by Congress gave life to this strategy.

China is an area that both sides of the United States agree on. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sought and won widespread support for the bill. (Eileen Scott/Reuters)

The legislation will spend $250 billion on research and manufacturing, and provide tax credits and subsidies for products such as artificial intelligence, alternative energy, batteries, medical technology, and quantum computing.

This is essentially an American answer China’s 2025 plan.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urged his colleagues to pass the bill as part of a key rivalry between major powers.

“All over the world, authoritarian governments have smelled blood in the water,” Schumer said.

“They believe that a quarreling democracy like ours cannot unite and invest in national priorities like a top-down, centralized, and authoritarian government….We cannot—we cannot, we cannot— Let this happen.”

This week, the bill was voted through in the Senate 68-32This shows that competition with China is a rare political issue that unites American political parties today.

What’s the next step?

The House of Representatives must pass the bill to become law.

The chances there seem to be good. Any bill that passes the Senate with a majority of more than two-thirds has a great chance in another chamber.

However, this is not certain.

The Democrats lead the House of Representatives and will consider this issue this summer, but Some people want to make changes; If the bill changes, the Senate will have to pass it again.

The bill caused some complaints Progressive And conservatives what they think Pig barrel politics In the form Corporate subsidies.

The legislation passed by the US Senate credits Canada’s handling of the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to a photo taken in Vancouver in March. (Jennifer Gautier/Reuters)

However, some Canadians believe that the bill is a compelling reason for Canada to consider strengthening its industrial strategy.

Robert Asselin, senior vice president of the Business Council of Canada, said that the bill has some things that Canada should emulate, such as large-scale R&D investments in priority areas such as agricultural technology, energy, and biotechnology.

“Seek truth from facts when it comes to industrial policy,” Asselin said.

“to me, [this] It just shows that the United States and China are redefining economic competitiveness, and we are in Canada and believe that everything is business as usual. We are still on the edge. “

Eric Miller, a trade consultant based in Washington, pointed to another question mark in Canada-US cooperation.

Although he has been talking about the United States purchasing more key minerals from undeveloped mines in Canada to reduce its dependence on China, he said that no one has solved the financing problem.

He suggested that the government can provide early funding to open the mine. For example, he said, the Canadian government can provide funding for the project at the beginning in exchange for a long-term procurement commitment from the Canadian government. U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Guaranteed refund.

“Huge opportunity,” Miller said. “But it takes some effort.”

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