Eating our lunch: Biden points to China in development push
The $2 trillion proposal for investments in U.S. transport and energy, manufacturing, internet and other sectors will make the United States more competitive.
Pushing for trillions of dollars in development spending, President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers are directing Americans’ eyes to the rear-view mirror, pointing to a booming, ambitious China they say is threatening to quickly overtake the United States in global clout and capacity.
It’s a national security pitch for a domestic spending program: that the $2 trillion proposal for investments in U.S. transport and energy, manufacturing, internet and other sectors will make the United States more competitive in the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s massive infrastructure-building campaign.
The argument is that competition today with China is more about economic and technological gains than arms — and its outcome will impact the United States’ financial growth and influence, its ability to defend U.S. security alliances and interests abroad, and the daily lives of Americans.
China under Xi has “an overall goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world,” Biden said before launching his proposal last week. “That’s not going to happen on my watch because the United States are going to continue to grow and expand.”
To varying degrees, addressing infrastructure has bipartisan support. Americans are experiencing outages, delays and irritations on transport and power systems designed in the 1960s and earlier. Meanwhile, China’s latest five-year plan calls for hundreds more airports, coal-fired power plants and other standard infrastructure projects. Xi also is calling for his country’s focus on “new infrastructure,” including investment in 5G networks and other digital infrastructure.
Research done for the Group of 20 rich and developing nations estimates China’s infrastructure spending as a percentage of domestic production on track to be more than three times that of the United States.
In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing legislation intended to pour technology research and development funding into the National Science Foundation and Commerce Department, to build U.S. semiconductor production, and to strengthen domestic technology supply chains.