1. As the 117th Congress Winds Down, Republican Messaging on China Gets Tougher

This week Republicans filed a flurry of bills focused on China. While they may be seeking to push these proposals as policy riders in the omnibus government spending package, more likely they reflect continuing interest by congressional Republicans to legislate on US-China policy and relations at least as aggressively in the 118th Congress as they did in the 117th.

  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the Neutralizing Emerging Threats from Wireless OEMs Receiving direction from Kleptocracies and Surveillance states (NETWORKS) Act(S. 5239), to add certain Chinese technology firms to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List, effectively freezing them from accessing the U.S. financial system.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office (HKETO) Certification Act(H.R. 9561), which seeks to require the President to certify if Hong Kong Economic Trade Office locations have a “high degree of autonomy from the People’s Republic of China” and require their closure if they do not meet that standard.
  • Sen. Rubio and Rep. August Pfluger (R-TX) introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Sanctions Review Act (H.R. 9596/S. 5273) to require the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to determine whether certain Chinese telecommunications companies have committed, or been complicit in, human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
  1. Let’s Make a Deal: Republicans and Democrats Discuss a TikTok Ban

Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously approved Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) No TikTok on Government Devices Act (S. 1143).

What happened: Throughout the year, Sen. Hawley placed holds on the confirmation of several Department of Defense nominees over a lack of Congressional hearings on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) negotiated with Hawley to allow a vote on a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in exchange for a vote on his TikTok legislation.

What’s next: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she is actively pushing for the bill to be added to as a rider to an omnibus government funding package. However, she said she wanted to consult with the White House first.

What’s more: Sen. Rubio  Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP) Act, which would block and prohibit TikTok entirely in the U.S.

  1. Around the Biden Administration—Notable Quotables:
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken launched a new Office of China Coordination at the State Department. According to the State Department, this “China House” will help ensure the United States has the “talent, tools, and resources to successfully execute U.S. policy and strategy towards the People’s Republic of China as the most complex and consequential geopolitical challenge” the U.S. faces.
  • Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said the U.S. “missed an opportunity for a number of years” on offering an alternative to Chinese investment in Africa but stated the U.S. is the “partner of choice” for African companies. “The U.S. helps to build capacity in our partner countries as opposed to exploiting those countries,” Graves said.
  • U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she hopes to have more meetings with senior Chinese officials in 2023 and hinted that she was “looking at enforcement of rules that we feel that China has not lived up to.”
  • Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink and National Security Council Senior Director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger visited China over the weekend “to continue responsibly managing the competition” between the U.S. and China and to “explore potential areas of cooperation.”