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US infrastructure fund recommended to counter Chinese ‘authoritarian’ push

A new report recommends that the US government should create an infrastructure fund to counter deals offered by the Chinese government.

The report from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan group, is to be presented to Congress later today.

The recommendation aims to stymie China’s attempt to export its “model of authoritarian governance” according to Reuters, who has seen the report in advance.

The body was created in 2000 to monitor and assess the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the US and China. Its annual report provides recommendations on what legislative and administrative action Congress should take.

This year’s edition said that China’s efforts to finance bridges and even digital networks in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe have given the Chinese government an excuse to maintain a military presence there.

The US is increasingly wary over the spreading influence that China is exerting on developing countries. In September the US presented a counter-offer to Papua New Guinea to build their internet infrastructure after Huawei, which is thought to have strong links with the Chinese government, first agreed to build the network. 

The report recommended that Congress create a fund to assist countries in parts of the world where China is expanding its influence. It also warned about the threat of China’s push into the next-generation 5G wireless technology on US security and business interests.

China has also been pushing its so-called Belt and Road Initiative that finances major ports, high-speed rail, highways and bridges in countries ranging from Malaysia to Kenya and Russia.

The commission said China was using it not just to “encourage and validate authoritarian actors abroad”, but also to export standards for technology applications that could threaten US businesses and market access across the globe.

“US telecommunications providers’ reliance on imports from China raises serious supply chain concerns about the secure deployment of US critical next-generation telecommunications infrastructure,” said the report.

Concern about Chinese cyber attacks and cyber espionage has forced Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE to scale back some of their business in the US.

In March US President Donald Trump issued an order prohibiting chipmaker Broadcom from a proposed takeover of Qualcomm on grounds of national security and concerns that China could be given the upper hand in 5G mobile communications. 

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