WASHINGTON — Lawmakers demanded to know: Why should China, a major foreign competitor and America’s biggest creditor, be receiving millions of dollars in development aid from the United States?
A House panel took a close and critical look Tuesday at $4 million of proposed funding for promoting clean energy, encouraging the rule of law and fighting wildlife trafficking. The committee has put that aid, approved last year, on hold as it presses for explanations from the U.S. Agency for International Development of how the money would be used.
Republican Rep. Donald Manzullo of Illinois said the aid for promoting clean energy would boost the competitiveness of Chinese manufacturers at the expense of U.S. manufacturers and jobs, and in a sector where the United States has protested to the World Trade Organization over Chinese subsidies.
“Given the state of the U.S. economy and with government debt approaching a record $15 trillion, it is absurd to think that any U.S. government entity would spend a single dollar trying to encourage China to do the right thing,” said Manzullo, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia.
Nisha Biswal, assistant administrator for USAID, defended the aid to China as supporting U.S. values and interests. She said none of the programs directly funds the Chinese government or involves the transfer of technology.
The aid aims to improve China’s environmental law and regulatory system and, with support from U.S. companies, offers training to Chinese factories on international environmental and health standards. Biswal said the program also offers an opening to Chinese markets for U.S. businesses. Participating companies include General Electric, Honeywell, Walmart, Alcoa and Pfizer.