Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) reintroduced legislation on May 4 that would set into law the denial of export privileges against nations that steal U.S. intellectual property, as part of a broader legislative effort to counter the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“What Americans innovate, China steals. China’s long history of intellectual property theft costs the United States billions of dollars each year. My bill combats China and other hostile nations’ ability to steal our intellectual property and do untold harm to our economy,” Buck said in a statement.
Buck noted in the release that the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has estimated that intellectual property theft costs the U.S. economy $600 billion per year, with the regime in Beijing the world’s main perpetrator. He cited John Demers, head of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice, as saying that over 80 percent of all cases charged as economic espionage—and 60 percent of all trade-secret cases—involve China.
Buck first introduced the measure, H.R.8831, in December 2020; it was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in the waning days of the 116th Congress.
The legislation is one of a handful of proposals by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest conservative caucus on Capitol Hill, to counter China’s communist regime. Chaired by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), the RSC has made combating the CCP’s mercantilist policies and other adversarial postures a key part of its agenda.
“We’ve made countering communist China a platform of the RSC for the first time, under my leadership,” Banks told The Epoch Times in a February interview. “It deserves our attention, and as the largest caucus, our members understand this is the greatest threat that we face and that we have to confront it.”
“China’s objective is to dominate the United States of America economically and militarily, to become the hegemonic power of the entire world, and to put the United States of America under its thumb,” Banks said. “And for years, they’ve been steadily marching towards that end goal.”
In a February policy note (pdf), the RSC outlined some actions taken by the Biden administration that amount to “pivoting to a weak posture toward China,” while accentuating former President Donald Trump’s hard-hitting approach toward countering Beijing.
The Biden administration has acknowledged the threat from the Chinese regime, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in an interview that aired on May 2 that Beijing has recently acted “more aggressively abroad” and was behaving “increasingly in adversarial ways.”
Asked by CBS News’ “60 Minutes” whether Washington was heading toward a military confrontation with Beijing, Blinken said: “It’s profoundly against the interests of both China and the United States to get to that point, or even to head in that direction.
“What we’ve witnessed over the last several years is China acting more repressively at home and more aggressively abroad. That is a fact.”
Asked about the reported theft of hundreds of billions of dollars or more in U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property by China, Blinken said the Biden administration had “real concerns” about the IP issue.
He said it sounded like the actions “of someone who’s trying to compete unfairly and increasingly in adversarial ways. But we’re much more effective and stronger when we’re bringing like-minded and similarly aggrieved countries together to say to Beijing: ‘This can’t stand and it won’t stand.'”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond on May 2 to a request for comment from Reuters on Blinken’s interview.
On April 30, the Biden administration said China had fallen short on its commitments to protect U.S. intellectual property in the phase one U.S.–China trade deal signed last year.
The commitments were part of the sweeping deal between Trump’s administration and Beijing, which pledged to buy at least $200 billion in additional U.S. goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs in stages on Chinese goods.
Blinken arrived in London on May 2 for a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting, where China is one of the issues on the agenda.
Bowen Xiao and Reuters contributed to this report.