WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), America’s top-ranked science- and tech-policy think tank, today released the following statement from ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson regarding the Trump administration’s announcement that it will consider an investigation into unfair Chinese trade practices that harm the U.S. economy:
ITIF commends the Trump administration for considering a formal investigation into Chinese trade practices that subvert global trade rules and harm the U.S. economy. Simply put, China is an innovation mercantilist. It tries to gain advantage in strategically important industries by using dubious policies and practices such as coercing competitors into handing over proprietary technologies and intellectual property.
For too long, China has systematically flouted the spirit, if not always the letter of its commitments under the World Trade Organization and other agreements. The U.S. response has been to engage in a seemingly endless cycle of ministerial dialogues that mostly have succeeded in eliciting empty promises that China will change its behavior. We need to break that cycle by taking action that produces tangible results—not just to protect America’s interests, but also to defend the integrity of the global trading system.
The administration has strong tools at its disposal, from initiating a Section 301 investigation into practices such as forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft to limiting Chinese investment in U.S. tech sectors. The White House is right to make clear all options are on the table.
Open and unfettered trade between the United States and China remains in the best interests of both U.S. and Chinese enterprises—and it is the foundation of a healthy global economy. In addition to considering an investigation of its own, the United States should work together with other like-minded nations to insist that China embrace the core principles of rules-governed, market-based trade. That is what China promised to do when it joined the WTO. We can’t allow it to continue shirking its responsibilities.
For more ITIF analysis of issues related to China’s innovation mercantilism, see:
- Robert D. Atkinson and Stephen Ezell, “False Promises: The Yawning Gap Between China’s WTO Commitments and Practices” (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, September 2015).
- Robert D. Atkinson, Nigel Cory, and Stephen Ezell, “Stopping China’s Mercantilism: A Doctrine of Constructive, Alliance-Backed Confrontation” (Information Technology and Innovation