Trump's move on trade raises concerns

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-08-15 12:44

Trump's move on trade raises concerns

US President Donald Trump, fl anked by Cabinet members and other officials, after signing a memo directing the US trade representative to review of trade issues with China on Monday. JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

China voiced "grave concern" over US President Donald Trump's move to initiate an investigation into China's intellectual property policies and practices.

The executive memorandum Trump signed on Monday instructed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to find out whether to investigate any of China's laws, policies, practices or actions that may be unreasonable or discriminatory, or may be harming US intellectual property and innovation technology.

China's Ministry of Commerce responded on Tuesday that China will take all necessary and appropriate measures to protect its commercial and trade interests if the US government wrongly accuses China over alleged theft of US technology and intellectual property.

China has been putting a strong emphasis on intellectual property rights protections and urged all WTO members to ensure a fair global trade.

Trump's move has triggered opposition from the Chinese government and concerns of strained trade relations between the world's two largest economies.

In Beijing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

Hua Chunying said that "any member of the WTO should observe its rules in taking trade measures," a view expressed by China's Ministry of Commerce 10 days ago.

"Given the increasingly converging China-US interests and the close-knit pattern of the two countries being mutually dependent, there will be no future or winner but only losers in a trade war," Hua warned.

Trump's signing came at a sensitive time, coinciding with his tweet last week that if China helps more on restraining the nuclear weapons program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he might think differently about trade issues.

But a senior White House official indicated that the two issues were not related.

Hua said that the Korean Peninsula issue and the economic and trade issue fall into different categories. "It is obviously improper to use one issue as a tool to exercise pressure on the other," she told the daily briefing.

Henry Levine, a senior advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group and a former US deputy assistant secretary of commerce, said that despite the issue over forced technology transfer, Trump's action on Monday should not cause short-term concerns for US or Chinese companies.

The study Trump requested could take up to a year and a 301 investigation, if launched, would take additional time, according to Levine. "Therefore, we are very far from any substantive actions that would create serious problems in US-China relations," he told China Daily.

Levine said if it ever reaches a point of Section 301 action, it would be well advised to use the WTO rather than any unilateral US action.

"Aside from the strongly negative impact on US-China relations, unilateral US trade actions would significantly weaken the global trading system, to the detriment of all countries," he said.

Levine believes that the conclusion of a high-quality US-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT) would help address such issues between the two countries.

Some observers interpreted Trump's signing on Monday as a move to show his supporters that he is finally keeping a campaign promise.


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