WASHINGTON: Democratic and Republican congressmen on Wednesday introduced a bill that aims to revive an arm of the old US Cold War arsenal to improve understanding of China and potentially other strategic rivals of the United States.

The House bill introduced by Democratic Representatives Joaquin Castro and Bill Keating and Republicans Mike Gallagher and Brian Fitzpatrick would provide for the establishment of a federally funded Open Translation and Analysis Centre (OTAC) focused on China. It would be based on the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which provided translation and analysis of Soviet bloc and other foreign government media during the Cold War.

The bill calls for funding of $80 million for fiscal 2022 and that same amount annually for each fiscal year through 2026 as well as “such sums as may be necessary for each fiscal year thereafter.” A congressional aide said the aim was essentially to “recreate FBIS for at least” China, as well for other countries, depending on funding.

Referring to the acronyms of the People’s Republic of China and its ruling Communist Party and armed forces, the aide said OTAC would “systematically translate PRC/CCP/PLA speeches, documents, reports, strategies, news articles, commentaries, journal articles, procurement contracts into English and publish them freely online.”

Published in Dawn, July 29th , 2021

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