WASHINGTON—The Trump administration on Nov. 20 said that China has failed to alter its “unfair” practices at the heart of the U.S.-China trade conflict, adding to tensions ahead of a high-stakes meeting later this month between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The findings were issued in an update of the U.S. Trade Representative’s “Section 301” investigation into China’s intellectual property and technology transfer policies, which sparked U.S. tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that later ballooned to $250 billion.
“We completed this update as part of this Administration’s strengthened monitoring and enforcement effort,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
“This update shows that China has not fundamentally altered its unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices that were the subject of the March 2018 report on our Section 301 investigation.”
In the update, USTR said it had found that China had not responded “constructively” to the initial section 301 reports and failed to take any substantive actions to address U.S. concerns. It added that China had made clear it would not change its policies in response to the initial investigation.
USTR said that China was continuing its policy and practice of conducting and supporting cyber-enabled theft of U.S. intellectual property and was continuing discriminatory technology licensing restrictions.
The update said that despite the relaxation of some foreign ownership restrictions, “the Chinese government has persisted in using foreign investment restrictions to require or pressure the transfer of technology from U.S. companies to Chinese entities.”
China’s Commerce Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report comes as the Trump administration and top Chinese officials are discussing possible ways out of their trade war and negotiating details of the Trump-Xi meeting on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires at the end of November.
Earlier this month, the USTR considered launching an investigation into China’s labor practices as a way of sanctioning the Chinese regime on trade.
In 2004 and 2006, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the country’s largest consortium of labor unions, had filed Section 301 petitions asking the USTR office to investigate whether China gained unfair trade advantages by violating workers’ rights. But the USTR office denied the petitions at that time.
But acrimonious trade rhetoric between the governments of the world’s two largest economies has been increasing in recent days, spilling over into an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last weekend.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday that the United States would not back down from the trade dispute, and might even double tariffs, unless Beijing bowed to U.S. demands.
By David Lawder. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.