Bipartisan bill unveiled in Senate to stop China tech threats

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. lawmakers who have been active in congressional efforts to address technology threats from China introduced a bill on Friday to create a White House office to fight state-sponsored technology theft and defend critical supply chains.

Senators Mark Warner, a Democrat and a vice chairman on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the panel, introduced the legislation.

The bill aims to create the Office of Critical Technologies and Security to coordinate an inter-agency strategy to fight high-tech threats to national security posed by China and other foreign actors, they said in a press statement.

“We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat by combating technology transfer from the United States,” said Warner in a statement. “We look forward to working with the Executive Branch and others to coordinate and respond to this threat.”

The bill was introduced in the midst of a battle between Washington and Beijing as President Donald Trump’s administration has accused China of seeking to steal U.S. technology and other misbehavior.

The two nations have been locked in a trade war for much of the past year, disrupting the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods and raising concern of slowing growth. Talks are set for Beijing next week.

Separately, national security experts as well as lawmakers such as Warner and Rubio have been concerned about the use of Chinese-made telecommunications equipment in U.S. networks, and are attempting to exclude companies like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp from U.S. networks.

The White House office created by the bill would seek to ensure that critical U.S. supply chains, both government and non-governmental, are not jeopardized by reliance on foreign manufacturers, the two lawmakers said in the statement.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Susan Thomas