The China threat is enormous and America must win the next great global competition


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On October 4, 1957, the world was forever changed. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite into space. This moment stunned the world and shocked the American people. 

This singular event set off the Space Race and a time of incredible innovation and engineering, laying the groundwork for many of the technologies we rely on today.

One of the most significant innovations that flourished as a result of the Space Race was the semiconductor. While the federal government had played a major role in supporting the U.S. semiconductor industry since the late 1940s, it was during the Space Race when innovation thrived and semiconductor technology developed at an accelerated pace. The United States aimed to not only win the Space Race, but to definitively eclipse the USSR as the leading scientific and technology nation. 

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech via video link to the opening ceremony of the Bo'ao Forum For Asia in Bo'ao in southern China's Hainan Province, Thursday, April 21, 2022.

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese president Xi Jinping delivers a speech via video link to the opening ceremony of the Bo’ao Forum For Asia in Bo’ao in southern China’s Hainan Province, Thursday, April 21, 2022.
(Huang Jingwen/Xinhua via AP)

But American innovation cannot be just part of our history. As William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prologue,” and we must learn from history and prepare for the future.

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Decades later, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan understood what semiconductors meant for the nation, declaring, “the health and vitality of the U.S. semiconductor industry is essential to America’s future competitiveness.” 

Sadly, over the years America’s production of semiconductors has diminished. This is an industry that was invented here, built with American innovation. But we have failed to maintain our competitive manufacturing edge, relying on others for these critical components that run everything from your toaster to your cell phone to fighter jets. 

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Currently 90% of all the advanced semiconductors are manufactured in Taiwan—an island General Secretary Xi has said he would “use force” to reunify with China. Just last week, the CIA director told the Aspen Security Forum it’s “less the question of whether the Chinese leadership might choose…to use force to control Taiwan, but how and when.”  

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We are facing a generational threat from China. They plan to build 31 semiconductor factories in the coming years, and are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to attract companies – including American ones – to build out their semiconductor supply chain. 

Recent reporting shows China is stockpiling the tools to make chips for their own needs, resulting in shortages for America and our allied partners. 

In other words, the United States is sleepwalking into this generation’s Sputnik moment. 

Recent reporting shows China is stockpiling the tools to make chips for their own needs, resulting in shortages for America and our allied partners. In other words, the United States is sleepwalking into this generation’s Sputnik moment. 

Imagine the global catastrophe that would ensue if we became dependent on China for these chips, which are found in advanced weapon systems, aircraft, and other critical defense industry applications. We cannot allow this to happen.

America has arrived at a pivotal moment in its history. Our leaders and lawmakers can no longer hesitate as to whether action is needed. China’s intentions are clear. They will do anything to control the production of semiconductors.

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That is why I urge my congressional colleagues to join me in passing this vital legislation.

I am proud to be the original sponsors of The CHIPS for America Act, legislation I started working on with the previous administration to secure the advanced semiconductor supply chain. And I am proud to now support the CHIPS Plus legislation that will invest in America’s future and rejuvenate our manufacturing base right here in America.

In addition, this bill includes critical guardrails on both the grants and the tax incentives. That’s because any company that takes federal money will be prohibited from supporting the manufacture of advanced chips in China. On top of that, companies pursuing what are referred to as “legacy chips” – or chips that are larger than 28 nanometers – production in China must notify the U.S. government.

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Make no mistake, this legislation is about national security, as domestically produced chips safeguard our national security. 

Unlike our first Sputnik moment in 1957, this time, we have the luxury of knowing what’s coming – and exactly what we need to do to prevent it. That is why we must pass The CHIPS Act and win the next great global competition. America’s national and economic security depend on it. 

Editor’s note: Rep. McCaul currently serves as Chairman of the China Task Force.



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