“The U.S. cannot adequately address its national security challenges related to China, which are increasingly driven by technology, without the help of a potentially surprising partner: the Department of Commerce.
Unfortunately, the department itself lacks the critical support needed for these efforts. Most crucial: Commerce needs its own intelligence agency.”
“The cases that come before CFIUS are privileged and not publicly disclosed. But I can say this: The most challenging ones usually revolved around issues of advanced or dual-use technology, an area in which the Department of Commerce plays a critical role given its international trade and export control responsibilities.
Today, the Department of Commerce is an agency unexpectedly on the frontlines of vital U.S. national and economic security challenges, most prominently demonstrated by its leading role on ensuring critical access to semiconductors, and as evidenced by the CHIPS Act and recent rules promulgated by the department to protect against even knowledge transfers between the United States and China.
But these efforts are certain to be a beginning for Commerce, not an end. And a dedicated in-house intel agency can better identify emerging threats and challenges from China that Commerce needs to tackle, including potential spyware and other intrusions embedded in foreign technology. For instance, in late November, the U.S. issued a ban on new Huawei and ZTE equipment — along with that of three other Chinese companies — for fear it would be used to spy on Americans. Last month, Congress proposed limiting U.S. exposure to Chinese 5G leaders, including Huawei, by restricting their access to U.S. banks, adding them to Treasury’s Specifically Designated Nationals List.
In fact, Commerce’s current position is not unlike that of the Treasury Department’s in 2004.
That year — as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act — Congress established the current iteration of Treasury’s intelligence agency, the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, and formally made it part of the broader intel community. Since then, OIA has played a critical role for almost two decades combating terrorist financing, helping support sanctions efforts and providing financial intelligence to Treasury policymakers.
OIA’s successes would simply not have been possible without it being a full, integrated member of the intelligence community. Indeed, its assessments often find their way to the White House and to other senior policymakers across town, even as its primary focus is supporting the Treasury Department.
In the same way, the Commerce Department cannot be expected to play a more fulsome role in U.S. national security if its leaders are not fully informed of the strategic goals and illicit tactical efforts of U.S. adversaries. To meet that expectation, requires the launch of a new, 19th intel agency to be housed at the department.”
“The Biden administration’s rush to engage in more centrally planned industrial policy, particularly when it comes to the production of semiconductor chips and other high-tech manufacturing, has always been framed as an attempt to counter China.”
“To defeat China, the argument goes, the U.S. must adopt the tactics of the Chinese Communist Party, at least when it comes to high-end manufacturing.
How’s that going on the far side of the Pacific? Not so great, actually.
“China is pausing massive investments aimed at building a chip industry to compete with the U.S.,” Bloomberg reported last week. “Top officials are discussing ways to move away from costly subsidies that have so far borne little fruit and encouraged both graft and American sanctions, people familiar with the matter said.””
“China might be relatively new to this game, but industrial policy has a long, mostly ugly history in other parts of the world—including right here in the U.S.—and there’s little reason to think that this time will be different.
China’s shift away from industrial policy seems to be driven, according to Bloomberg, by the strain that COVID-19 has put on the country’s economy and fiscal policies rather than by any sudden rediscovery of the benefits of free markets. Even so, there’s a certain irony to the Chinese government changing course just months after U.S. policy makers decided that we had to copy China in order to compete with it.”
“The Bloomberg report says Xi is becoming frustrated about how tens of billions of dollars dumped into the semiconductor industry in recent years haven’t produced major breakthroughs that allow the country’s domestic chipmakers, like the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, to compete with the world’s top producers.
America’s foray into high-tech industrial policy seems to be on the same trajectory. The New York Times, for example, reported last week that “new chip factories would take years to build and might not be able to offer the industry’s most advanced manufacturing technology when they begin operations.” Meanwhile, everything from federal permitting requirements to America’s broken immigration system is creating huge hurdles for the semiconductor manufacturers that are planning to expand their capacity in the United States.”
“Occupying the office without credibility will not lead to obedience. Chinese officials are very skilled at disobeying without getting caught. There is a Chinese saying, “There are policies from the top, and there are countermeasures at the bottom.” They have various ways to handle it. When others do not have faith in you, when you have no credibility and receive no acceptance, you are in big trouble. Your orders might not be carried out at all. Others might have ways to have your orders vanish into thin air.”
“The high-tech surveillance Xi Jinping employs to control society does lead to the belief that it is increasingly difficult, even impossible, to overthrow the regime using traditional tactics. But the problem is that high tech is not only accessible to Xi Jinping. The masses can master it, too. Resisters can also make use of these high tech means. Both sides enjoy equal opportunities. The key is whether there is enough confidence to take actions to overthrow the Communist Party. But of course Cai Xia and some other friends don’t always share the same opinions. They are anti-Xi, but not anti-communism. They oppose Xi Jinping, but not the Communist Party. They think such a stance can be accepted by more people. But I believe we not only need to oppose Xi Jinping, but also the Communist Party. If we could get rid of Xi Jinping, the Communist Party won’t last long either, the end will be near. At least, when it comes to that, the Communist Party might reform itself, thus creating an opportunity for democracy. I am still relatively optimistic. I don’t believe Xi Jinping could control everything. Especially when no one trusts you and you still need people to manage the surveillance system, would they be loyal to you? So, I think there are still opportunities.”
“The past 20-some years have proved that an open tyranny is even better at deceiving. During these 20-some years, major Western businesses have invested in China and painted a pretty picture of China for the outside world. A lot of the American people have come to believe it, thus letting down their guard against China. A lot of academics are also advocating for China. China’s infiltration of the U.S. has led to problems in the health of the American system. Now Americans are starting to realize how serious the infiltration is. It is close to taking control of our regime, our thinking. This situation, this is exactly the result of Deng Xiaoping’s open tyranny.
On the contrary, as Xi Jinping closes up the country, more and more people might be able to see the true face of the authoritarian regime, the danger it poses to the U.S. and its neighboring countries. Also, without the support of the people, it might grow increasingly weak, and it’s paradoxically not as dangerous as that of the open society under Deng Xiaoping. Therefore right now is the best opportunity for the people to confront the Communist Party.”
“I believe the overseas democracy movement has paramount importance. Mobilizing international pressure gives domestic dissidents some room to maneuver. The Communist Party fears global public opinion. They always have, right from the beginning. The party talks about how it fears nothing on the international stage, but it is terrified. This is a “merit” of the Communist Party — it knows it cannot alienate the whole world. So an important job for us overseas is to mobilize the international community to put pressure on the Communist Party.
Another important job is to facilitate the flow of information to the domestic audience, such as what democracy in America looks like, and why it is good. We utilize all channels. There are more and more channels nowadays, including social media. I have hundreds of thousands followers on my Twitter, and half of them are using Twitter through a VPN. They send their greetings so I know they come from within China. This is how we communicate information and discuss problems with people inside China, how we explain issues that they find perplexing. I think this is also very important to the future democratization. Because democracy in China can only be established by the people in China. It cannot depend on people overseas. The majority of those overseas are never able to return. The more the people in China know, the smoother the process of establishing democracy will be. So, this is an important part of our work. These two are our main tasks.”
“There is “a lot of brain drain among H-1B workers who are considering alternative options, Canada being the most notable, but also the U.K., a lot of European countries also have a lot easier routes,” Sam continues. Though salaries might not be as high as in the U.S., “a lot of us are OK to take a financial hit just for peace of mind.”
Recent tech layoffs may affect only a small share of America’s immigrant workforce, but they’re a sign that much reform is needed to ensure that high-skilled workers continue to come to the United States. Reforms could also address discriminatory limits on certain immigrants. Immigration analysts like David J. Bier of the Cato Institute note that employment-based green card caps “serve no purpose because nearly all wait-listed, employer-sponsored immigrants are already in the United States working in temporary statuses.” The EAGLE Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate, would eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based green cards that has exacerbated wait times for many immigrants.”