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By Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday introduced legislation to boost the country’s ability to deal with China’s growing global influence by promoting human rights, providing security help and investing to combat misinformation. The draft measure, titled the “Strategic Competition Act of 2021,” calls for diplomatic and strategic initiatives to counter Beijing, reflecting hard-line sentiment on relations with China from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The 280-page bill addresses economic competition with China, but also humanitarian and democratic values, such as the imposition of sanctions for the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority and support for democracy in Hong Kong. He stressed the need to “prioritize military investments necessary to achieve US political goals in the Indo-Pacific.” He called for spending to do so, saying Congress must ensure that the federal budget is “properly aligned” with the strategic imperative of competing with China. The bill recommends a total of $ 655 million in Foreign Military Financing funding for the region for fiscal year 2022 through 2026, and a total of $ 450 million for the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative and related programs for the same period. It would expand the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which examines financial transactions for potential national security risks. However, like many provisions of the bill, this clause could change as it progresses through the committee and the full Senate. The bill calls for an enhanced partnership with Taiwan, calling the autonomous island “a vital part of the US Indo-Pacific strategy” and saying there should be no restrictions on the interaction of US officials with their Taiwanese counterparts. . China considers Taiwan a separatist province. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Friday that China “resolutely opposes” the bill and called on senators to do more to help the stable development of relations between China. China and the United States. Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou expressed her appreciation for the Senate’s show of support, adding that she will pay close attention to the development of the legislation. The bill also says Washington should encourage allies to do more about Beijing’s “aggressive and assertive behavior”, including working together on arms control. Introduced by Senators Bob Menendez, the committee’s Democratic chairman, and Jim Risch, its highest-ranking Republican, the bill was turned over to committee members to allow for a margin, a meeting during which the panel will discuss the amendments and He will vote on April 14. “I am confident that this effort has the necessary support to be overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week and the full Senate shortly thereafter,” Menéndez said in a statement. Risch said in a statement that he was also pleased that the bill included a “strong and viable” plan to counter China’s influencing efforts in American universities. The move is part of an accelerated effort announced in February by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to pass legislation to counter China. “Congress is extremely focused on the various challenges that China poses to American interests and is trying to develop effective responses that are within its purview,” said Bonnie Glaser, an expert from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Asia. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on April 14 on its bipartisan measure, the “Endless Frontier Act,” to bolster America’s semiconductor industry.