This month, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the $740 billion national defense authorization bill that is called the “hardest” for China under Trump’s presidency. But Trump announced on Twitter on the 13th local time that the “biggest winner” of the bill was China and threatened to veto it.
U.S. media noted that Trump threatened to veto the above-mentioned bill, because it did not contain the provisions he requested to remove the legal protection of social media companies. Trump has launched eight vetoes during his term, but the U.S. Congress has not successfully overturned his veto.
The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the few bills that the U.S. Congress must pass each year to set the U.S. defense budget. This year’s bill involves nearly 40 provisions related to China, covering military, technological, academic, economic and trade and other fields, including the highlight of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative against China. Therefore, the bill has also been called by the U.S. media that Congress gave the Biden administration a “new framework against the rising China”.
Trump threatened to veto: it may be related to social media terms
The U.S. Senate passed the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 by a vote of 84 to 13 against, the United States Senate on December 13, reported by the Associated Press and USA Today on December 13. On Tuesday (8th), the House of Representatives passed the bill by 335 votes to 78.
At this point, Trump will have 10 days to sign or veto the bill. If he does not sign it within 10 days, the bill will automatically become law. Previously, the National Defense Authorization Act had become law for 59 consecutive years.
But Trump may veto this year’s defense authorization bill. Long before the House vote on December 8, Trump sent a social media call on Republicans to vote against the bill, saying that he would exercise presidential veto power to veto the bill even if Congress passed it.
On the same day, the White House also issued a statement saying that the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2021 “limited the president’s ability to protect the national security of the United States” and also limited Trump’s ability to withdraw troops from Germany, Afghanistan and South Korea.
On December 13, Trump even declared on Twitter: “I will veto it. China is the biggest winner of our new defense bill!” In this tweet, all letters are capitalized.
In response to Trump’s idea of veto, media speculation may be related to social media companies and incidents such as the renaming of military bases.
The Wall Street Journal said that section 230 of the U.S. Communications Regulatory Act has long protected companies such as Twitter, Google and Facebook from being responsible for the content published by users, while giving platforms the freedom to review users’ published content.
Trump and other Republicans believe that the clause allows social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to “censor” conservatives online. Democrats believe that this clause does not force large technology companies to crack down on disinformation. Most Republicans accept Trump’s view, but they don’t want to use defense funds on such “unrelated” issues.
In addition, in the context of this year’s “Black Lives and Lives” movement, the Defense Authorization Act includes an amendment that agrees to change the names of some military bases and replace the names of Confederate generals in the previous American Civil War. But Trump thought the defense bill was “too weak” and threatened to veto it.
According to the U.S. Constitution, if the President exercises presidential veto power over a bill passed by Congress, the bill will be voted on again in Congress. If more than two-thirds of the votes have been passed by both houses, Congress will override the presidential veto.
In the current vote, both the Senate and the House of Representatives have more than two-thirds of the votes in favor. But several Republicans, including House Minority Leader McCarthy, said that although they voted in favor today, if the president vetoed the bill, it would be in line with the president.
The defense authorization bill targets China. Expert: It still depends on Biden.
Although Trump called the new defense authorization bill “the biggest winner is China”, the bill itself has been extremely explicit against China.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell claimed that the bill would help “contain Chinese aggression”. Other Republicans who supported the bill, including Senator John Thune, South Dakota, the second leader of the Senate, and Mike Gallagher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, are all tweeting.
The bill “will counter threats from China and other countries” according to the above.
Democratic leader of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, declared: “President Trump obviously has not read the bill and does not understand the contents.
Here are a few bipartisan terms that have a tougher attitude towards China than the Trump administration has ever had.”
In fact, the bill will provide a defense budget of $740.5 billion in fiscal year 2021, covering all aspects of military salaries, equipment procurement and foreign affairs. Among them, there are nearly 40 articles related to China, covering military, technical, academic, economic and trade and other fields, “reflecting the overall challenges posed by China”.
For example, the bill requires the President of the United States to formulate a “whole-government strategy” to curb the so-called “industrial espionage and mass theft of personal information”; requires restrictions on U.S.
defense industry employees and former employees to work directly for Chinese enterprises; and restricts the U.S. Department of Defense to the United States with Confucius Institutes. Universities provide grants; request a list of Chinese military industrial enterprises operating in the United States; prohibit the export of defense equipment to the Hong Kong police; restrict China’s access to assistance from the World Bank, etc.
Among them, the most eye-catching is the so-called Pacific Deterrence Initiative. The Washington Post said that the plan aims to strengthen the U.S. presence and allies in the Indo-Pacific region and provide funding for more attack submarines. Attack submarines are critical to fighting China’s strong maritime power, senior Pentagon officials claim.
But the new plan’s first year of funding was $2.2 billion, which is only a small part of the $740.5 billion bill, which is generally used to strengthen the U.S. defensive posture, capabilities and alliances in the region. Therefore, the U.S. military admits that the decision of the Biden administration will largely determine the plan.
The Washington Post believes that the plan is prepared by the U.S. Congress to provide the incoming Biden administration with “a new framework against rising China”.
Michael O’hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution, interpreted that although the bill provides direction for the U.S. Department of Defense, it also leaves enough space for the Biden team to plan its strategy towards China.
In addition to China, Turkey, which bought Russian missile systems, and the North Stream 2 gas pipeline, have also become the targets of sanctions under the United States’ defense authorization bill.
However, Germany has recently ignored the threat of sanctions from the United States and is determined to complete the North Stream 2 project. German Chancellor Merkel said: “We do not think these extraterritorial sanctions beyond American territory are legitimate.”