Oblivious to partisan criticism over his threatened tariffs, President Trump on Thursday announced plans to crack down on China. This could mean billions in new tariffs and restrictions on investment.
Although many in Washington, D.C. express surprise by this announcement, Trump had been threatening these sorts of actions since he began running for president in 2015. It is becoming another lesson for the opposition that this president means what he says and follows through.
Specific details of the president’s plan were not disclosed. However, leaked reports suggest the president could impose tariffs in the neighborhood of $30-$50 billion on Chinese imports.
These actions come in response to Beijing’s wide-ranging, lax policies on intellectual property. It is estimated that the stealing of American technology costs U.S. corporations hundreds of billions each year, not to mention the national security fallout.
Trump’s actions are based on the obscure and seldom-used Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, (Pub.L. 93–618, 19 U.S.C. § 2411). It stipulates unilateral action can be taken to retaliate against a foreign power’s trade practices.
This means the president may target more than 100 products from China that the administration has found to be the result of stealing U.S. intellectual property, according to reports. The entire situation is one that is anything new to American technology companies or the U.S. government itself.
These Chinese acts have been commonplace for years.
It comes as no surprise that Beijing has threatened retaliation. That is generally predicted to be against U.S. agriculture, specifically soy beans whose exports include one-fourth of American crop totals.
The entire tariff question has been looked at for a number of years. Trump asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate China’s intellectual violations last year. It came as no surprise to anyone in Washington when he told the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday that "we have a very serious problem of losing our intellectual property, which is really the biggest single advantage of the American economy."
Trump began a dialogue on these issues early in his presidency with China’s top government officials. That included President Xi Jinping who cannot be surprised by the president’s bold move. The question is, will China continue their unwillingness to change its trade practices?
There is no question that China puts major pressure on U.S. corporations wishing to do business in their country with technology "requests." Often the contracts to be signed include provisions to aid and assist the Chinese in understanding the technology being used within their country. Anxious American businessmen are many times more interested in company profits than U.S. national security.
Enter billionaire businessman, President Donald Trump. He is far from satisfied with the type of response he is getting from the Chinese. It is his feeling that the time has come to put pressure on China and U.S. companies willfully transferring their technology under foreign ownership restrictions.
Moreover, the U.S. trade representative fully realizes American companies are not provided the same conditions to obtain Chinese technology. But Chinese companies have many times been documented conducting cyberattacks to steal U.S. trade secrets.
Steep tariffs on steel and aluminum go into effect on Friday. But the share of China’s stake in that move by Trump is a mere two percent of the overall trade. Nevertheless, the Chinese have expressed their anxiety over America’s trade deficit with China. It was $375.2 billion last year.
There is little doubt Trump wants that to change. And there is even less doubt China is the prime target of any generic tariffs set to be imposed now or in the future.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. is an award-winning national political and foreign affairs columnist and published author. He has spent over 35 years in the publishing industry. His long-running articles include many years at Examiner.com and currently Newsblaze.com. Dwight is an author of two highly acclaimed books, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selected Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014" and "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Election in History." He is a native of Portland, Oregon, a journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, and a resident of the SF Bay Area. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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