Members of the U.S. Congress have proposed the establishment of an agency that will be tasked with improving the nation's understanding of China.
Democratic and Republican members of Congress introduced a new bill Thursday aimed at reviving an arm of the old U.S. Cold War arsenal.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Representatives Joaquin Castro and Bill Keating and Republicans Mike Gallagher and Brian Fitzpatrick. The bill aims to establish a new agency called the Open Translation and Analysis Center, which would be concentrated on China.
The new agency will be similar to the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. The FBIC primarily focused on providing translation services and analysis of all media broadcast by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the same capacity, the proposed OTAC will focus on the translation and analysis of speeches, news articles, documents, strategies, commentaries and contracts from China.
"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," proponents of the House Bill said.
The bill calls for the release of government funds of up to $80 million for fiscal 2022. It also called for the release of the same amount annually through 2026. The funds will be used to "recreate the FBIS" for China and other countries as needed.
Aside from directly translating media and communications from China, the OTAC will also provide "crucial analysis and annotations" to help nonexperts better understand their content.
Proponents of the bill said the establishment of the agency would allow the U.S. to better understand countries such as China and Russia.
Skeptics of the proposal said directly translating and interpreting the nuances of the Chinese media will be challenging. Unlike the past, information sources have greatly increased since the Cold War and translating and analyzing the enormous volume of information coming out of China could be next to impossible.
The bill proposes that the OTAC publish all of its work on a single website. The sponsors of the bill said the resources provided by the OTAC will be invaluable to the U.S. government, its allies, academics, analysts and journalists.