Economic and technological competition between China and the United States continues to be one of the main challenges for the new US President Joe Biden. Although the Biden Administration has tried to distance itself from many of the policies pursued by the previous Trump Administration, its approach to the Asian giant is identical. Both Administrations share the goal of limiting China's leadership.
The new Cold War in the purest 21st century style is once again confronting the great superpowers of the moment: the United States and China, but in this case the weapons used are technological advances. Whoever is able to master elements such as 5G or artificial intelligence (AI) will be the world leader.
The United States is clear that it is not going to make it easy for the Asian giant, and despite the fact that the pandemic has greatly affected the US economy, the Senate has approved with a large majority a bill that boosts public spending on research and technological development with an investment of 250 billion dollars. The bill is aimed at increasing national competitiveness and countering China's influence.
At a time of strong division between Republicans and Democrats it has become clear that the concern over competition with China is greater than any differences between the two parties. It is also evidence that the Senate, despite being sharply divided, can function on a bipartisan basis. The Senate managed to pass the bill with 68 votes in favour and 32 against. The approved bill, known as the American Innovation and Competition Act, still needs to be passed in the House of Representatives.
The bill aims to revise the US government's support for science by expanding the government's role in technology research, including through the National Science Foundation. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis, it would authorise some $190 billion in spending to bolster US advanced technologies to better compete globally.
The bill provides some $52 billion for the Department of Commerce to subsidise the development and manufacturing of semiconductors in the United States. In addition, the bill authorises $120 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation for research in key areas such as artificial intelligence and quantum science. It also includes $1.5 billion for the development of 5G technology.
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who led the initiative, noted before the vote that "when all is said and done, the bill will go down in history as one of the most important things this chamber has done in a long time, a statement of faith in America's ability to seize the opportunities of the 21st century".
This resolution has been approved by US President Joe Biden, who after its endorsement in the Senate stressed that "we are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has been fired". "The United States must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on the planet. I look forward to working with the House of Representatives on this important bipartisan legislation, and I hope to sign it into law as soon as possible," the President said in an official White House statement.
In his desire to confront China's growing influence in the West and following the approval of this new bill in the Senate, the US president is currently undertaking an intense European tour to redirect relations with his European partners. Relations that experienced their most critical moments during the previous Trump Administration and that Biden intends to recover after the meetings he will hold with the different European leaders during his trip to the Old Continent.
The US president has made it clear that his main objective on this trip is to strengthen alliances with European countries in order to form a common front against China and Russia, considered the main enemies of the West according to the United States. The trip will also end with a bilateral summit between the US president and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Geneva (Switzerland). This trip could imply a return to the bloc system experienced during the Cold War if Biden achieves his goal during the European tour, an arduous objective that could strain relations with some of his European partners.