Bennet, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Reassert American Leadership & Values in Emerging Technologies

This Legislation Would Create an Office Focused on Partnering with Democratic Countries to Counter Chinese Dominance in 5G, AI, Quantum Computing, and More

Washington, D.C.  – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced legislation to develop a strategic partnership among democratic countries to compete against the growing technological influence of the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes. The Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish a dedicated office at the State Department tasked with creating a partnership among democratic countries to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, and coordinate export controls and investment screening on emerging and critical technologies.

“The Chinese Communist Party is working rapidly and strategically to dominate in technologies that will underpin our economic and national security, and to export its illiberal technology across the globe,” said Bennet. “America’s competitiveness and security require an international technology strategy that leads with our values and allies. This bipartisan approach will empower the United States and our democratic partners to compete with China and set the rules of the road for next generation technologies.”

“The Chinese Communist Party is working to surpass the U.S. technologically and economically and to export their technologies globally. In order to compete and counter the expansion of Chinese dominance in critical technology sectors, we need to create a strategy that leverages the power of American partnerships to protect and advance our technological edge,” said Warner. “This bipartisan legislation will help foster partnerships among the U.S. and like-minded democratic countries to better protect and compete against China in critical emerging technologies while helping set global rules, standards, and protocols for the market.”

“After four years of consistent failure under the Trump administration, one of our most important challenges will be to forge a coherent new national security strategy, particularly on cybersecurity and emerging technology, led by our values, centered on our democratic allies and partners, and implemented with consistency,” said Menendez. “The Democracy Technology Partnership Act is a bipartisan recognition that we have entered a new era of technology and geo-economic strategic competition with Beijing, and an acknowledgement that we will not overcome this challenge without technology partnerships and shared human ingenuity. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to invest in a broad diplomatic and security architecture that restores our nation’s position as the world’s greatest innovator and allows us to actually outperform China.”  

“Both Democrats and Republicans know that competing with China is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st Century,” said Schumer. “For years, I have been committed to confronting the Chinese government for cheating and stealing its way to economic growth. That’s why I am proud to help champion the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act, which will give like-minded democracies the edge needed to compete with the Chinese Communist Party. This initiative is an important next step in our mission to boost American competitiveness, leverage our alliances abroad and fight China’s predatory practices.”

“It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party wants to reshape the emerging technology landscape to benefit their authoritarian aims. It is essential that the United States and our like-minded democratic allies around the world work together to set global standards that uphold our universal values,” said Young. “This bipartisan legislation marks a significant step forward for the United States in our ongoing effort to out-compete China and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this passed into law.”

“Winning the long-term tech race with the Chinese Communist Party is foundational to our strategic relevance in the world. Chairman Xi has laid out an ambitious plan to displace the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower and install his version of techno-authoritarianism in its place. The United States cannot meet this challenge alone and must lead our freedom-loving allies and partners to craft creative solutions to our shared technological challenges. This bill is a good step towards that goal,” said Sasse.

“It’s critical for democracies around the world to collaborate in research and development as well as manufacturing of advanced technologies to compete against China,” said Rubio. “Too many nations fall prey to the trap of incentives associated with Chinese tech that only results in lost privacy, reduced autonomy, and greater dependence on Beijing.  The U.S. must lead likeminded countries in establishing and supporting alternatives that are safer and technologically more advanced.  I hope this bill will push the Administration to lead in this space.”   

Leadership and competitiveness in emerging technologies will determine the political, economic, and military strength of countries in the 21st century. Currently, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is using every tool in its arsenal to dominate key technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors, and more – from heavily subsidizing Chinese companies to investing extensively in research and development, to leveraging international standard-setting bodies, and accessing technologies through illicit means.  

The U.S. cannot counter this on its own. To help America compete, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish an interagency office at the U.S. Department of State to spearhead a new partnership among the world’s tech-leading democracies. This partnership would help guide critical emerging technologies to advance democratic values instead of those from authoritarian regimes like China.

Specifically, the new office would be responsible for:

  • Creating a technology-based partnership of democratic countries to develop harmonized technology governance regimes and to fill gaps in specific technologies;
  • Identifying existing or new multilateral mechanisms to advance the objectives of the Technology Partnership;
  • Coordinating with democratic partners on shared technology strategies; and
  • Developing strategies to provide alternatives to countries at risk of acquiring technologies from authoritarian regimes.  

In addition, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act creates a $5 billion International Technology Partnership Fund to support joint research projects between government research agencies, universities, technology companies and other businesses from partner countries, as well as to make technology investments in third-country markets. The legislation also creates a Public-Private Board, called the International Technology Partnership Advisory Board, made up of individuals with demonstrated expertise in emerging technologies and international trade.

Bennet has supported policies that invest in America’s competitiveness and combat challenges posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s growing influence. In January 2020, Bennet introduced the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. 

A section-by-section summary of the bill is available HERE. A two-page summary of the bill is available HERE. The bill text is available HERE