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Trump Admin To Continue Battle With China Through Tech Sanctions

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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President Donald Trump and his administration are expected to impose new restrictions on China by respectively limiting exports to the country, and China’s investment in American firms, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Sunday night.

Specifically, the Treasury Department is reportedly in the process of designing rules that would block companies with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from acquiring U.S. firms that have a substantial stake in technology. Also, the Department of Commerce and National Security Council are outlining plans for “enhanced” export controls, meaning regulations or penalties for technology that is sent to China, according to TheWSJ.

With already strained trade relations and the two corresponding moves, the two national powerhouses could be embarking on an even more intense battle of promoting their own products and services at the expense of the others’.

A Chinese official in April called America “a bully,” accusing its primary foreign adversary of going too far with its international constraints and warnings, particularly that over firms ZTE and Huawei. Both of the China-based companies have been the recipients of top U.S. lawmakers and officials’ consternation over the years, but especially so in recent months.

Huawei, ZTE — telecommunications equipment corporations — and their conduct were the subject of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing and an investigative report from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, both of which listed strong reservations like that of foreign surveillance.

ZTE pleaded guilty in March 2017 after it was deemed by the U.S. to be illegally shipping American goods to Iran and North Korea. By doing so, it agreed to pay $900 million in fines for violating the U.S. sanctions. It has been trying to convince officials and the larger public, particularly that of America, that it’s technology and services can be trusted.

And whether or not ZTE’s direct appeals worked, after banning American companies from working with aforementioned Chinese firms for seven years in April, Trump agreed with China’s President Xi Jinping to change the penalties, thus arguably saving the massive corporation.

A bipartisan group of senators that remain worried about ZTE are trying to override Trump’s amended deal, arguing that its mandates — a $1 billion fine to be paid back after years of compliance, replacement or shuffling of board members — don’t go far enough. (RELATED: Rubio Grills Apple For Sucking Up To China For Profits)

While some saw Trump’s change of course in that instance and concern for a Chinese corporation to be in conflict with his “America First” ethos, the latest reported plans will only vamp up his battle against China — a country that exercises protectionist policies and has been accused of aiding Chinese companies in acquiring U.S. tech, whether through purchasing, licensing or stealing. If his own policies will work in pushing China back, however, will not be clear for some time.

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