U.S. Senate passes bill to address China tech threat

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill aimed at boosting the country's ability to compete with Chinese technology.

The Senate voted on Tuesday 68 to 32 to pass the sweeping new legislation which authorises spending around $190 billion to strengthen U.S. technology and research.

The desire to take a hardline approach to Beijing is one of the few issues which unites the deeply divided U.S. congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was a co-sponsor of the legislation.

"Around the globe authoritarian governments believe that squabbling democracies like ours can't unite around national priorities. They believe that democracy itself is a relic of the past, and by beating us to emerging technologies they, many of them autocracies, will be able to research, reshape the the world in their own image. Well let me tell you something. I believe they are wrong."

The legislation is both about investing in U.S. companies and confronting China's influence.

It includes spending $54 billion to increase U.S. production and research into semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.

That covers billions of dollars worth of spending on chips used by automakers.

There are also measures aimed at curbing China's own tech sector, including a provision banning federal employees from downloading the social media app TikTok on their government devices.

In addition to this, the bill bans the purchase of drones manufactured and sold by companies backed by the Chinese government.

The wide-ranging legislation aims to counter Beijing's influence on the global stage by working with allies and increasing U.S. involvement in international organizations.

U.S. President Joe Biden has thrown his weight behind the legislation, saying:

"We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off ... We cannot risk falling behind."

The bill must now pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for Biden to sign into law.

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