World

China says US IP probe is 'irresponsible', urges cooperation

BEIJING China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" yesterday after the United States launching an investigation into China's alleged theft of US intellectual property (IP), calling it "irresponsible".

The US Trade Representative formally announced the investigation on Friday, following a call from President Donald Trump earlier last week to determine whether a probe was needed.

The investigation is the Trump administration's first direct measure against Chinese trade practices, which the White House and US business groups say are damaging American industry.

China's Commerce Ministry said the move sent the wrong signal to the world and would be condemned by the international community.

"The US' disregard of World Trade Organisation rules and use of domestic law to initiate a trade investigation against China is irresponsible, and its criticism of China is not objective," an unnamed ministry spokesman said.

"China expresses strong dissatisfaction with the United States' unilateral protectionist action. We urge the US side to respect the facts... Respect multilateral principles and act prudently," the official said, adding that Beijing would take "all appropriate measures and resolutely defend China's lawful interests".

The US should instead work with China to find consensus and promote healthy trade relations, the ministry said.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows the US president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect US industries from "unfair trade practices" of foreign countries.

China's policy of forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese joint venture partners and failure to crack down on IP theft have been longstanding problems for many US administrations.

Administration officials have said that such Chinese theft could amount to as much as US$600 million (S$817m), though Chinese officials deny that forced technology transfers exist and say the country is continuously improving IP protection.- REUTERS

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