Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley pushed legislation Tuesday that would make it more difficult for American tech companies to export their technology to China. Hawley’s bill, which has few details. would require President Donald Trump to restrict any technology to China that would contribute to the communist country’s military. The Republican’s legislature would also place heavy restrictions on technology that influences artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and robots. It also would restrict any kind of tech that China might use to violate human rights.
The U.S. is losing its advantage to China and other countries when it comes to innovations related to artificial intelligence, blockchain and other key technology, according to an analysis of patent filings over the past decade. While American inventors still command the largest portion of the nation’s patents, the percentage is dropping in the high-tech fields, according to a yearlong study conducted by the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and researchers at GreyB Services Pte.
Companies were bracing Monday for how Beijing might retaliate against President Trump's escalation of a fight over technology and trade that threatens to disrupt a Chinese economic recovery. China has threatened "necessary countermeasures" for Mr. Trump's tariff hikes Friday on $200 billion of Chinese imports. But three days later, in a break with previous tit-for-tat penalties that were imposed immediately, Beijing had yet to announce what it might do.
As a tool of national policy, tariffs had long been fading into history, a relic of the 19th and early 20th centuries that most experts came to see as harmful to all nations involved. Yet more than any other modern president, Trump has embraced tariffs as a punitive tool -- against Europe, Canada and other key trading partners but especially against China, the second-largest economy after the U.S.
U.S. authorities were sitting on a sensitive secret last fall when Canada detained a top Huawei Technologies Co. executive on alleged U.S. sanctions violations. Two months earlier, the U.S. had arrested another Chinese national on similar suspicions and was holding her at a grim jail in Washington, D.C. An employee of an unidentified Chinese technology company, she had been nabbed on vacation in California.
President Donald Trump boosted tariffs Friday on $200 billion in goods from China and was preparing more in his most dramatic steps yet to extract trade concessions, further roiling financial markets and casting a shadow over the global economy. China immediately said in a statement it is forced to retaliate, though hadn’t specified how as of 3:55 p.m. in Beijing.
In pursuit of a trade deal with China, nothing else measures up to securing real, enforceable protections of American intellectual property. Not tariffs, not more exports, not closing the trade deficit. In fact, stopping China’s theft of American IP will go a long way toward easing all other points of contention. This must remain a non-negotiable.
A new Pentagon report said that China uses "cyber theft" and other methods to bolster its military, which the report claims will continue to grow rapidly. "China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies, including targeted foreign direct investment, cyber theft, and exploitation of private Chinese nationals' access to these technologies, as well as harnessing its intelligence services, computer intrusions, and other illicit approaches," it said.
The FBI’s director said that the U.S.’s biggest threat is China’s “Whole-of-society Approach” to stealing American innovation. Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations on Friday, April 26, Christopher Wray said, “Put plainly, China seems determined to steal its way up the economic ladder, at our expense.”
Those who think China can’t catch up in innovation tend to base their arguments on abstractions: A rigid education system stifles creativity, they say, while heavy-handed industrial policies such as the “Made in China 2025” program encourage waste and inefficiency. Those skeptics are ignoring a far more concrete and relevant factor, however: the growing size and sophistication of China’s domestic market.