WASHINGTON: US lawmakers today pressed the Trump administration to hold China accountable for violating its trade laws and intellectual property regulations.
"I think that's appropriate," Senator Rob Portman told Fox News in an interview when asked about holding China accountable for violating trade norms.
"If you go too far, I think what some people in the White House are saying, Steve Mnuchin, the Secretary of the Treasury, you will end up shooting yourself in the foot if you really do in fact have the Chinese retaliating against our products, and yet we aren't getting satisfaction on more entry into their markets," he said.
"So there's a way to do this. We have the bigger market. We have the trade deficit. In other words, there's only so much they can do to hurt our trade because they're selling us more than we're selling them," the Republican Senator from Ohio said.
A high-level trade delegation from China is currently in Washington DC for talks with the US. The US trade delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"I think the president is right to focus on China. He's right to say that the imbalance between the US and China has grown over time. And, by the way, of the USD 500 billion trade deficit we have, roughly USD 370 billion is with China so no question about that," Portman said.
"One of the issues that he's focused on with China is intellectual property, the fact that they take our secrets and use them. So it's real and it's good that he is finally sort of standing up to it -- not finally him but finally an American administration is doing that. But, Neil, you have to be careful how you do it," he said.
As many as 32 Senators in a letter called on US President Donald Trump to put American jobs and national security ahead of China.
"Offering to trade American sanctions enforcement to promote jobs in China is plainly a bad deal for American workers and for the security of all Americans," the senators wrote.
"American workers and companies confront rampant theft of US intellectual property, agricultural policies that disadvantage American farmers, restrictions on market access for U.S. service providers and manufacturers, and mercantilist industrial policies that have cost U.S. workers their jobs.
America's policies toward China should put American workers, farmers and businesses first, not China's, the Senators said.
The Senators urged Trump to focus on identifying effective strategies to reshape China's policy approach in each of these areas, such as through enforceable commitments to eliminate forced technology transfer policies, market distorting subsidies, data localisation policies, and foreign investment restrictions, and ensuring nondiscriminatory treatment of US firms in regulatory and other proceedings.
"Above all, we urge you to remain steadfast in enforcing America's laws," the Senators said. Members of the Ways and Means Committee today met Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
During the meeting lawmakers encouraged Vice Premier Liu to continue discussions with Congress and the administration to strengthen and improve trade relations between the two countries by addressing the trade barriers faced by American exporters and China's theft of intellectual property from American businesses and workers.
Senator Marco Rubio, in his remarks on the Senate floor, opposed any deal on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE.
"The Chinese use their telecom companies to spy on us. Not just spy on us for national security, they spy on us for commercial secrets, steal stuff from us. They want to control global telecom. They want to make it difficult for the American military to communicate with commanders and each other," he alleged.
Rubio said China wants to embed themselves in the technology of other countries. "We make calls to other countries, to our embassies abroad. Imagine if ZTE or Huawei controls the infrastructure in some country like that, they're hearing everything our government is doing and they're stealing secrets form our companies," he said.
Asserting that the US shouldn't sell them any chips because they are trying to put US out of business, Rubio alleged that Chinese companies "steal" American secrets, and reverse engineer the things the US does.
"Their goal is to dominate telecommunications, all technology in the world. And they're doing it by stealing from us. We should not be helping them," he said.
"I do not shed one tear for ZTE or Huawei, or any of these companies. Chinese companies backed by the Chinese government have put plenty of American companies out of business. And they're doing this to undermine us economically, geopolitically and from a national security perspective," Rubio said.