US trade probe: China vows not to ‘sit by’ if Washington ‘destroys multilateral rules’

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
By Paul Martin
15 Aug, 2017

China has expressed “grave concerns” over US President Donald Trump’s signing of a memo that authorizes a potential inquiry into Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property. China said it won’t “sit by,” and threatened to act to defend its interests.

“We hope that the US trade representative respects facts and acts with prudence,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.

It added that if Washington fails to respect multilateral trade rules and chooses to take measures that damage bilateral economic and trade relations, “China will definitely not sit by, but take all appropriate measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Trump administration officials have estimated that alleged theft of intellectual property by China, America’s largest trading partner, could amount to $600 billion, Reuters reported.

On Monday, the US president asked trade officials to consider launching a formal investigation into whether Beijing improperly requires foreign companies to hand over technology in exchange for market access. Trump signed an executive memorandum authorizing Robert Lighthizer, his trade representative, to “consider all available options” to challenge China’s alleged trade abuses.

“This is just the beginning, I want to tell you that. This is just the beginning,” Trump told reporters, adding that he was making “a very big move” against Chinese trade policies.

“We will uphold our values, we will defend our workers and we will protect the innovations, creations and inventions that power our magnificent country,” Trump said.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said the move not only violated the spirit of international trade, but also undermined US commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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