The White House is preparing to open a broad investigation into China’s trade practices, according to people with knowledge of the Trump administration’s plans, amid growing worries in the United States over a Chinese government-led effort to make the country a global leader in microchips, electric cars and other crucial technologies of the future.
The move, which could come in the next several days, signals a shift by the administration away from its emphasis on greater cooperation between Washington and Beijing, in part because administration officials have become frustrated by China’s reluctance to confront North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The investigation will focus on alleged Chinese violations of American intellectual property, according to three people with a detailed knowledge of the administration’s plans. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations were not yet public.
Any move by the Trump administration to punish China over its trade practices would raise tensions within the world’s largest trade relationship between two countries. China’s export sector still contributes heavily to its economy growth despite Beijing’s efforts to diversify its economy, and China represents a lucrative market for American automakers, technology companies like Apple, farmers and many others.
Still, China’s industrial ambitions — and growing frustration among American companies doing business there — have become harder for United States officials to ignore.
China’s policy to become a leading manufacturer by 2025 in the fields of driverless cars, medical devices, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, robotics and many other technologies has caught the attention of officials in President Trump’s administration. The policy, known as Made in China 2025, sets goals for China to be a global leader in 10 fields of industry with the help of huge infusions of state money and the protection of those industries from American competitors.
At the same time, the Chinese government has demanded that American companies cut the licensing fees that they charge for key patents and has insisted that companies set up joint ventures to do business in China.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Keith Bradsher