The Washington Post

China signals it will retaliate for U.S. sanctions, bill to counter its ambitions

- BY EVA DOU eva.dou@washpost.com Alicia Chen, Pei Lin Wu and Lyric Li contribute­d to this report.

Beijing decried a U.S. bill to curtail China’s economic and military ambitions, as Chinese lawmakers meet this week to discuss measures to counter U.S. sanctions.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday against the sprawling $250 billion bill passed by the Senate a day earlier, which supports U.S. hightech investment and provides funding to counter the political influence of the Chinese Communist Party.

“The bill is full of Cold War mentality and ideologica­l prejudice,” it said. “It slanders China’s developmen­t path and its domestic and foreign policies.”

The National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislatur­e, is also discussing a bill this week in response to U.S. sanctions.

Beijing had initially hoped the change in U.S. administra­tion would bring warmer relations, but President Biden has largely retained Trump-era policies on China, and in some cases intensifie­d them. Earlier this month, Biden expanded his predecesso­r’s ban on U.S. investment in Chinese companies.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that one of the NPC Standing Committee’s main tasks for the coming year is to develop tools to counter foreign sanctions and “interferen­ce.” He cited sanctions by Western government­s on Chinese officials and companies over Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Chinese legislator­s have been discussing an anti-sanctions bill since April, Zhao said, and were reviewing a draft this week. Details of the bill have yet to be made public.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is under U.S. sanctions, was quoted by the city’s public broadcaste­r RTHK on Tuesday as saying Western government­s would get a “taste of their own medicine” from Beijing’s anti-sanctions bill.

Hao Min, an intellectu­al property expert at the University of Internatio­nal Relations in Beijing, wrote in the state-run Global Times on Wednesday that the latest moves in Washington showed technologi­cal competitio­n had become the top priority for the United States in its relationsh­ip with China. But, she said, China may be able to outcompete the United States in certain fields, because of the country’s large workforce and pool of scientists, and the government’s support for science.

“As the economic gap between China and the United States gradually decreases, it is within reach for China to surpass the United States in investment in scientific and technologi­cal research and developmen­t,” Hao wrote.

As the Senate voted on the bill on Tuesday, the Biden administra­tion also announced it was forming a cross-department task force to address bottleneck­s in supply chains critical to U.S. national security, another measure aimed at China.

Beijing has responded forcefully in recent months to Western sanctions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang, which Chinese officials call external meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

China levied sanctions on European politician­s and researcher­s in March, in retaliatio­n for Britain and the European Union joining the United States to penalize Chinese officials over human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.

Earlier in March, Chinese staterun media announced that companies in Xinjiang would sue a prominent U.s.-based researcher, Adrian Zenz, whose work on the Chinese government’s oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has been influentia­l in the developmen­t of the sanctions.

In January, Beijing implemente­d unpreceden­ted sanctions on senior U.S. officials, including former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, in a parting shot to the Trump administra­tion.

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