The US Senate on Tuesday passed a sweeping industrial policy bill aimed at countering the surging economic threat from China, overcoming partisan divisions to support pumping more than US$170 billion into research and development.
The measure cleared the chamber on a 68-32 vote, one of the most significant bipartisan achievements in the US Congress since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
It also represents the largest investment in scientific research and technological innovation “in generations,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
The bill now heads to the US House of Representatives, which earlier passed a different version.
The two will have to be reconciled into a single bill before it is sent to the White House for the president’s signature.
Biden said he was “encouraged” by the Senate’s passage of the US Innovation and Competition Act.
“We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off,” Biden said. “As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on Earth.”
The package, a key provision of which addresses a shortage of semiconductors that has slowed production at US automakers this year, would help US industry bolster its capacity and improve technology.
It is seen as crucial for US efforts to avoid being outmaneuvered by Beijing as the adversaries compete in the race to technological innovation.
“Today, the Senate took a critical bipartisan step forward to make the investments we need to continue America’s legacy as a global leader in innovation,” US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “This funding isn’t just about addressing the current semiconductor chip shortage, it is about long-term investments.”
Schumer called the measure “one of the most important things this chamber has done in a very long time, a statement of faith in America’s ability to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.”
The proposal aims to address a number of technological areas in which the US has fallen behind China.
The bill allocates US$52 billion for a previously approved plan to increase domestic manufacturing of semiconductors.
It also authorizes US$120 billion over five years for activities at the US National Science Foundation to advance priorities, including research and development in key areas such as artificial intelligence and quantum science.
It facilitates tie-ups between private firms and research universities.
“This is an opportunity for the United States to strike a blow on behalf of answering the unfair competition that we are seeing from communist China,” said US Senator Roger Wicker, one of the bill’s main cosponsors.
“For everything from national security to economic policy, there’s a clear and urgent need to reorient the way our country views and responds to the challenge from China,” US Senator John Cornyn said.
In Beijing, officials yesterday accused Washington of “paranoid delusion” after the bill advanced.
The foreign affairs committee of China’s National People’s Congress said that the bill was “full of Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.”
“The bill shows that the paranoid delusion of egoism has distorted the original intention of innovation and competition,” Xinhua news agency reported it as saying.
It is an attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs, and deprive it of its “legitimate right to development through technology and economic decoupling,” it reported.
NO CONNECTION: Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said the CECC has linked no deaths so far to the AstraZeneca vaccine Eleven people in the nation have died after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, but the deaths should not deter older people with chronic health conditions from getting vaccinated. Nine of the deaths — people aged 65 to 97 — took place three hours to one day after the AstraZeneca vaccine was given, the center said, while eight of the 11 deaths were people aged 75 or older, most of whom had chronic health conditions. On Wednesday, the center said that 12 more people — seven women and five men aged 42 to 97 at
HELPING HAND: Vaccine eligibility can likely be widened to cover pregnant women now that the nation has more vaccine doses than it planned for, Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan yesterday received a shipment of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated by the US, obtaining its largest single batch of vaccines since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. A cargo plane of Taiwanese national carrier China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) carrying the Moderna Inc vaccines landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at about 4:30pm, after leaving Memphis, Tennessee, early on Saturday, US time. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen were at the airport to welcome the plane. The vaccines were transported to a cold chain logistics center, where they would be inspected
‘NO STRINGS ATTACHED’: The US is donating the shots without any political or economic conditions, and with the singular aim of saving lives, a senior US official said The US was yesterday to ship 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, a senior US administration official told Reuters, more than tripling Washington’s previous allocation of shots for the nation. Washington, competing with Beijing to deepen geopolitical clout through so-called “vaccine diplomacy,” had initially promised to donate 750,000 doses to Taiwan, but is increasing that number as US President Joe Biden’s administration advances its pledge to send 80 million US-made shots around the world. The 2.5 million donated doses of the Moderna Inc vaccine would leave Memphis, Tennessee, on a flight belonging to Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), early
VULNERABLE: The CECC has been moving older infected people or those with underlying health conditions, who were in isolation, to hospitals for better health monitoring The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily count since the nationwide level 3 alert was issued last month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 75 local infections are 35 males and 40 females, aged from under five to over 80, and they began experiencing symptoms between June 8 and Sunday. New Taipei City reported 38 cases, followed by Taipei with 22, Taoyuan with five, Miaoli County with three, Keelung and Taichung with two each, and Kaohsiung, Yunlin County and Changhua County with one each, CECC