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White House asks US agencies to detail all China-related funding

| Updated: September 09, 2020 18:50:27

White House asks US agencies to detail all China-related funding

The White House has asked US government agencies for extensive details of any funding that seeks to counter China’s global influence and business practices, or supports Beijing, amid growing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

According to an August 27 White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) document seen by Reuters, the OMB directed US agencies to submit “cross-cutting data on federal funding that aids or supports China, or that directly or indirectly counters China’s unfair competition and malign activities and influence globally.”

China denies it engages in unfair competitive practices.

The document, titled “Strategic Competition with China Crosscut,” does not say how the information will be used other than that it will “inform policymakers” of the myriad ways US government spending involves China, reports Reuters.

The United States and China have grown antagonistic toward each other with disagreements that stretch from a two-year-old trade war, to the Trump administration blaming Beijing for a lack of transparency about the spread of COVID-19.

The sweeping budget data request will be used to help policymakers and notes all funding should “reflect strategic priorities” when responding to China.

Some US programs and spending under review dates back a decade or more. The document directs federal agencies to respond by September 21.

A spokesman for OMB confirmed the agency effort, telling Reuters that “to ensure that the United States remains strong and in a position of strength against rival nations like China, OMB has asked federal agencies for all funding meant to counter China, or which could aid China.”

The memo includes instructions on how to submit both classified and unclassified US spending details and seeks details of all US government funding directed for spending inside China.

The White House document asks for data for all US government funding used to “counter malign Chinese influence or behaviour incongruent with American interests.”

It cites as examples “funding for programming to counter the One Belt One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); funding for military operations, equipment and infrastructure, the primary purpose of which is to deter aggressive Chinese behaviour.”

It also seeks details of “secondary” US efforts on China like “marginal contributions which were necessary to maintain a US lead over China in terms of voting power within key international organisations” and funding for other US efforts.

The document also seeks data on US government funding for programs whose primary purpose is to counter Chinese technological prowess in key sectors like 5G and wireless communications, semiconductors, artificial intelligence and machine learning, quantum computing, cyber and system security, advanced manufacturing and robotics, autonomous and electric vehicles, biotechnology, advanced energy, and space technologies.

The White House sought details of spending on technical assistance from US government experts, bilateral funding for the US-China Clean Energy Research center and any other US bilateral economic assistance programs.

It also seeks data on “HHS (Health and Human Services) funding for CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), NIH (National Institutes of Health) and other programming in China.”

The request also seeks details on any spending that “would overall contribute to Chinese GDP or technical capacities, including to Chinese government or military entities, State-owned commercial or industrial entities and entities functionally directed by” Chinese government leadership as well as grants or credit provided by US supported international organisations.

Agencies must submit data on 2019 and 2020 budgets enacted into law, the 2021 Trump budget proposal and 2022 agency budget requests.

The budget review is just the latest effort that could lead to more actions against China.

Last week the United States blacklisted 24 Chinese companies and targeted individuals it said were part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea, the first such US sanctions move against Beijing over the disputed strategic waterway.

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