Jobs Plan Is Part of Competing with China, Commerce Secretary Says

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks during a press briefing at the White House April 7.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks during a press briefing at the White House April 7. Evan Vucci/AP

Gina Raimondo said President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal will be key in out-competing China.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the administration would take offensive and defensive actions to keep America competitive in the face of “uncompetitive, coercive and underhanded” actions taken by China.

Speaking Wednesday during a White House press briefing, Raimondo said President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal—called the American Jobs Plan—is a key offensive component in the administration’s China strategy. The Commerce Department will continue to anchor the administration’s defensive efforts, which include enacting tariffs and restricting business with certain companies by including them on the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List. In recent years, numerous Chinese companies have been added to the list for a variety of reasons ranging from espionage concerns to human rights abuses.

“We need to play offense and defense. The jobs package is offense. We need to invest in American competitiveness so we can play offense,” Raimondo said. “What we do on offense is more important than what we do on defense. To compete in the long run with China, we need to rebuild America in all the ways we’re talking about today.”  

Raimondo said the administration is “in the thick of” reviewing its China policy and “working aggressively as we can,” though she did not offer a specific date for its completion. She declined to say whether she supported additional China tariffs, though she said 232 tariffs under the prior administration in the steel and aluminum industries “helped save American jobs.”

She further declined to say whether she favored the sale of social media company TikTok to American companies Oracle and Walmart, which was ordered by the Trump administration last year and paused by the Biden administration for a legal review.  She did, however, state it was likely that Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei was likely to remain on the Entity List, an issue she was questioned on by Republicans during her confirmation hearing.

Biden’s jobs proposal would include hundreds of billions of dollars to improve roads, bridges and other transportation efforts, as well as bolster the nation’s broadband capabilities. The proposal currently includes $50 billion to be invested in semiconductor manufacturing and research, which Raimondo said would reduce national reliance on foreign companies on the integral technology components amid a global chip shortage. 

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