Chi­nese law­mak­ers en­dorse tech­nol­ogy law amid US pres­sure

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TECHNEWS! -

BEI­JING (AP) — Chi­nese leg­is­la­tors on Fri­day en­dorsed a law meant to help end a costly tar­iff war with Wash­ing­ton by dis­cour­ag­ing of­fi­cials from pres­sur­ing for­eign com­pa­nies to hand over tech­nol­ogy.

The mea­sure is part of an in­vest­ment law that aims to ad­dress com­plaints by the United States, Europe and other trad­ing part­ners that China’s sys­tem is rigged against for­eign com­pa­nies de­spite Bei­jing’s com­mit­ments to treat com­peti­tors equally.

The 3,000-plus del­e­gates to the cer­e­mo­nial Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress rarely do law­mak­ing work. But their an­nual ses­sion, the high­est-pro­file po­lit­i­cal event of the year, gives Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s gov­ern­ment a plat­form to ad­ver­tise changes aimed at end­ing a bruis­ing bat­tle with Wash­ing­ton that has dis­rupted trade in soy­beans, med­i­cal equip­ment and other goods.

It was un­clear whether the mea­sure would mol­lify Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who launched the tar­iff war by rais­ing U.S. du­ties on Chi­nese im­ports in re­sponse to com­plaints Bei­jing steals or pres­sure com­pa­nies to hand over tech­nol­ogy. Wash­ing­ton has yet to com­ment on the law.

Amer­i­can and Chi­nese ne­go­tia­tors are in the midst of rapid-fire ne­go­ti­a­tions aimed at end­ing the bat­tle, which has dis­rupted trade in soy­beans, med­i­cal equip­ment and bil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of other goods.

Wash­ing­ton also wants China to roll back plans for gov­ern­ment-led cre­ation of global com­peti­tors in robotics and other tech­nolo­gies. Its trad­ing part­ners say those vi­o­late its mar­ket-open­ing obli­ga­tions.

The of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said China’s econ­omy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, talked by phone with U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin. The one­sen­tence re­port said they made “fur­ther sub­stan­tial progress” but gave no de­tails.

The gov­ern­ment said ear­lier the in­vest­ment law will pro­hibit Chi­nese of­fi­cials from us­ing “ad­min­is­tra­tive meth­ods to force tech­nol­ogy trans­fers.” The word­ing of the fi­nal ver­sion of the law fol­low­ing amend­ments this week wasn’t im­me­di­ately re­leased, but state me­dia gave no in­di­ca­tion the tech­nol­ogy por­tion had changed.

Ahead of Fri­day’s vote, for­eign busi­ness groups wel­comed the pro­posed law but said it might have been rushed through the ap­proval too quickly. They said they will need to see how it is en­forced to know whether it will im­prove con­di­tions for for­eign com­pa­nies.

The law is “still quite gen­eral” and fails to ad­dress prob­lems in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial for un­equal treat­ment of com­pa­nies, the Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in China said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day. It ex­pressed con­cern about the broad scope of “na­tional se­cu­rity re­views” al­lowed by the law and the im­pact of reg­u­la­tions on in­di­vid­ual in­dus­tries.

The Eu­ro­pean Union Cham­ber of Com­merce in China ear­lier ex­pressed con­cern the fo­cus on “ad­min­is­tra­tive meth­ods” might mean of­fi­cials still are free to use other tac­tics to pres­sure com­pa­nies to hand over know-how.

Chi­nese of­fi­cials deny com­pa­nies are re­quired to hand over tech­nol­ogy. But they face pres­sures in­clud­ing re­quire­ments in in­dus­tries in­clud­ing auto man­u­fac­tur­ing and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to work through state-owned part­ners, which re­quires to them pro­vide tech­nol­ogy to com­pa­nies the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party hopes will be­come their com­peti­tors.

NPC del­e­gates voted 2,929 to eight, with eight ab­sten­tions, in fa­vor of the law — an un­usu­ally wide mar­gin even for a pow­er­less leg­is­la­ture that rou­tinely en­dorses all rul­ing party poli­cies.

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