Joseph Farah posted an item on his G2 Bulletin discussing the recent Obama Administration announcement of a review of U.S. export control regulations and the China factor. Farah states that “[w]hile China plays the economic card, the national security risk to certain technology exports is going virtually unmentioned.” While the discussion on reforming U.S. export control laws and regulations should be broader than just focusing on China, Farah is correct to point out that
Contrary to [White House Press Secretary] Gibbs’ comments that export controls are “rooted in the Cold War era of over 50 years ago,” they have undergone continuous review and liberalization despite increasing targeting of U.S. technology by such countries as China, Russia, Iran and even some western nations for their military.
In a recent op-ed in Beijing Review, a senior fellow with the Research Center for China-U.S. Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing said that after the U.S. and other free-market economies recognize “China’s market economy status, Western countries will hopefully begin to relax their restrictions on hi-tech exports to China.” To them, export controls is something of a scarlet letter, to be removed at any and all cost.
The Chinese government uses export control “reform” as a political and trade bludgeon to lobby Washington lawmakers. The Validated End User program was not enough for China. Indeed, the U.S. can never do enough “reform” to mollify central planners in Beijing. And, as the latest Annual Report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage details, it is not just China that aggressively seeks to steal sensitive U.S. technologies. Folks in town should keep that in mind when waving, once again, the export “reform” talisman.
Farah’s post, and many others like it throughout the years, highlight a tension that exists in official Washington between the folks in government working on the frontline to ensure that the U.S. remains safe from countries that seek to do us harm and certain pockets of the private sector who seek a trade “no matter what” approach. A cursory review of the registrants of the Foreign Agent Registration Act shows how aggressive certain foreign governments will go to relax these rules.
Reform for reform’s sake is a universal approach and tactic in this town used with many public policy issue areas as a political talisman. Take health care reform, campaign finance reform, environmental law reform, and the list goes on and on. When the federal government comes bearing gifts of reform, instincts should be to run. U.S. export control laws are not all that complicated if you keep in mind that we have countries and non-state actors that seek to do us political and economic harm. The regulations are not perfect, nothing ever is.
Once certain foreign government cease overly aggressive effort to violate U.S. export control laws or secure sensitive U.S. technology through other means, then it may make sense to implement broad and comprehensive export control reform. Until then, it seems more prudent to take stock of the current system and what works as well as make changes in a piecemeal fashion or targeted basis to update or modernize the regulations.
Read the complete WND post, here.