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China says US is creating ‘imaginary enemy’ with Senate bill


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin takes a question at the Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing on Nov. 9, 2020.

China blasted U.S. motivations underpinning a nearly $250 billion bill the Senate just passed to invest in manufacturing and technology in an effort to outcompete Beijing.

While China is committed to “developing a win-win relationship” with the U.S., the legislation “distorts the facts, and slanders China’s development path and domestic and foreign policies,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

“How the U.S. plans to develop itself and to enhance its competitiveness is a matter for the U.S. itself,” he added. “However, it should not treat China as an imaginary enemy.”

The Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 68-32 in a rare display of bipartisanship, displaying concerns that the U.S. is falling behind its biggest global competitor. The legislation authorizes $190 billion in spending, much of it aimed at increased research and development at universities and other institutions. It also includes $52 billion in emergency outlays to help domestic manufacturers of semiconductors expand production.

The Biden administration has signaled its support for the bill, but its fate in the House is uncertain. Leaders in the House haven’t publicly committed to acting on the Senate’s version.

The move comes as Chinese lawmakers consider a law that would give Beijing more tools to hit back at Washington as their rivalry intensifies.

A National People’s Congress committee filed a new draft of legislation aimed at countering sanctions imposed by foreign governments, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday. Xinhua didn’t provide details but said the legislation would provide legal backing for countering “discriminatory measures by a foreign country in accordance with the law.”

In March, China pledged to expand its legal toolkit as it battles the U.S. on a range of issues, including allegations of human-rights abuses in the western Xinjiang region and limitations on the types of technology China can import.

Under former President Donald Trump, the U.S. sanctioned at least 45 Chinese officials over their role in Beijing tightening its grip on Hong Kong and in setting policies for Xinjiang, including 15 members of the NPC. The Chinese government responded with sanctions of its own, although with milder effect given the dollar’s dominance in international finance.

The NPC’s 175-member standing committee is meeting until Thursday in Beijing. State media has said the sanctions legislation is expected to be put to a vote soon and is expected to pass.