U.S. plans trade probe over China’s de­mands for tech trans­fers

Cape Breton Post - - World -

Frus­trated over China’s in­abil­ity to pres­sure North Korea over its nu­clear pro­gram, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is weigh­ing plans to pun­ish China for fail­ing to crack down on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty thefts and forc­ing U.S. and for­eign com­pa­nies to share their tech­nol­ogy in re­turn for ac­cess to the vast Chi­nese mar­ket.

That’s ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sion, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the plans have not been made pub­lic.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion is con­sid­er­ing in­vok­ing the rarely used Sec­tion 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which em­pow­ers Wash­ing­ton to in­ves­ti­gate Chi­nese trade prac­tices and im­pose sanc­tions, in­clud­ing tar­iffs, within months, ac­cord­ing to one of those peo­ple.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion would fo­cus on China’s al­leged forced tech­nol­ogy trans­fer poli­cies and prac­tices, one of the peo­ple said, adding that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could move to launch such a probe this week. The sec­ond per­son cau­tioned that no de­ci­sions or time­lines had been fi­nal­ized yet.

U.S. and other Western gov­ern­ments and business groups ac­cuse Bei­jing of un­fairly nur­tur­ing Chi­nese com­peti­tors _ in fields rang­ing from med­i­cal equip­ment to re­new­able en­ergy to elec­tric cars _ by re­quir­ing for­eign firms to hand over pro­pri­etary tech­nolo­gies in ex­change for be­ing al­lowed to op­er­ate in China.

Amer­i­can com­pa­nies have long com­plained that Chi­nese com­peti­tors steal their tech­nol­ogy and use it to com­pete against them. Be­ing forced to hand over tech­nol­ogy to gain ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket adds to the risk.

China’s Min­istry of Com­merce did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a faxed re­quest for com­ment.

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