Wed, Jan 31, 2018 - Page 10 News List

China would hit back at US: AmCham

TIT-FOR-TAT:The US is investigating whether China is harming US firms and Beijing said it could launch anti-dumping probes into US products, the AmCham chairman said

AP, BEIJING

The head of a US business group yesterday said that Chinese officials warned him that “there will be retaliation” if US President Donald Trump launches trade remedies in disputes over technology, steel and other issues.

The officials did not say what might trigger a response or what Beijing might do, American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in China chairman William Zarit said.

Speaking at a news conference, he did not identify the officials and said they were talking about possible US action broadly, not individual trade cases.

Trump has approved higher tariffs on Chinese aluminum, washing machines and other goods that Washington says are dumped abroad at improperly low prices.

US authorities are investigating whether Beijing is harming US companies by pressuring them to hand over technology.

Zarit mentioned possible US action on technology, steel and aluminum, saying: “If that does go forward, I have been told by certain officials that yes, definitely, there will be retaliation.”

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce had previously said that Beijing will “resolutely defend” its interests if Trump authorizes penalties.

Another chamber official, Lester Ross, said the group was told that Washington is preparing to announce results of its technology investigation after Trump delivers his “State of the Union” speech to the US Congress this week.

Chinese officials have accused Trump of jeopardizing the global trading system by taking action under US law instead of through the WTO.

Potential Chinese retaliation might target areas such as US exports of farm goods and aircraft, Ross said.

Beijing also could launch anti-dumping or other investigations of US goods, he said.

Automakers and other foreign companies in China usually are required to operate through local partners. That requires them to share technology and other business secrets with potential Chinese competitors.

Despite that, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei (苗圩) speaking at a Cabinet news conference yesterday rejected suggestions that companies are forced to give up technology.

“Today in China, it is absolutely impossible to demand forced transfer of technology by a foreign enterprise,” Miao said. “Technology transfer follows the principle of voluntariness and market direction and is an independent choice made by the enterprise.”

US companies want to avoid a trade war, but believe that dialogue with Beijing has done little to produce a “fairer relationship based on reciprocal treatment,” Zarit said.

“There is a sense that strictly just dialogue has not really brought much in terms of progress, so perhaps some pressure will help get us more progress to a more balanced economic commercial relationship,” he said.

“The membership does understand that there needs to be some changes made here,” Zarit said. “And to the extent that the changes will be the result of some pressure, then that’s what will happen.”

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