May 13, 2021

Brown, Toomey Reach Bipartisan Agreement on Amendment to China Competition Bill

Brown-Toomey Amendment Would Provide for New Mandatory Sanctions for Chinese Cybersecurity Attacks and IP Theft, Address Other National Security Concerns

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA) announced an agreement on bipartisan legislation called the “Meeting the China Challenge Act of 2021.”  The Brown-Toomey amendment addresses critical concerns about China in the national security and financial services arena, including urging intensified use of existing sanctions authorities against Chinese violators on Hong Kong, human rights, cyber espionage, illicit trade with North Korea, fentanyl production and distribution, and other issues. The legislation also provides for broad new mandatory sanctions on Chinese actors engaged in cyberattacks against the U.S., or in the theft of intellectual property from U.S. firms.

The amendment underscores the need for effective implementation of new anti-money laundering and corporate transparency laws to combat China’s abuses of anonymous shell companies, provides for a review of export controls on items that could be used to support human rights abuses in China, and urges firms to adopt a corporate code of conduct for operating in China.  It also mandates new Congressional reporting requirements on a range of issues, including on the extent to which Chinese state-owned enterprises engaged in malign behavior have recently received U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance, to inform future policymaking.

“Our recent China policy has been haphazard, ad hoc, and ineffective. China must not be allowed to undermine American national interests or those of our allies,” said Brown. “This amendment will better enable President Biden to hold China accountable by imposing real economic costs and responding directly to aggressive Chinese behavior with a broad range of political, diplomatic, and economic – including sanctions - tools.”

“Congress should defend our national security and our economy from the growing threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” said Toomey. “This bill imposes mandatory sanctions on Chinese entities that steal American intellectual property and engage in cyberattacks against the U.S. It also strengthens export controls on items used by the CCP to commit genocide against Uyghurs and suppress freedoms in Hong Kong. It will require our government to investigate whether U.S. taxpayers are unwittingly providing federal assistance through the Export-Import Bank to Chinese state-owned enterprises engaged in misconduct. This amendment is an important step to hold the CCP accountable for its malign behavior.”

Specifically, the Meeting the China Challenge Act of 2021 would include:

  • Provisions urging intensified use of existing sanctions authorities with respect to the People’s Republic of China;
  • New mandatory sanctions to combat cyber-attacks on United States Government or private sector networks;
  • New mandatory sanctions to combat theft of trade secrets and intellectual property of United States persons and firms;
  • A review of export controls on items with critical capabilities that enable human rights abuses;
  • Establishment of an interagency task force to address Chinese market manipulation in the United States;
  • A report on domestic shortfalls of industrial resources, materials, and critical technology items essential to the national defense;
  • Reports on exposure of the United States to the financial system of the People’s Republic of China, on Chinese state-owned enterprises, and on China’s development of alternative financial messaging services;
  • Reports on investment reciprocity between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and on exposure of the United States to China’s financial system.

Brown and Toomey will work to include this amendment in the China competition bill, the Endless Frontier Act, which is being led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) and is scheduled to come to the Senate floor in the coming days.

A one-page summary of the measure can be found here. The legislative text of the agreement can be found here.