CHINA will take action to defend its interests if the United States damages trade ties, the Ministry of Commerce said, after President Donald Trump authorized an inquiry into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.
Trump’s move, the first direct trade measure by his administration against China, comes at a time of heightened tension over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, though it is unlikely to prompt near-term change in commercial ties.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will have a year to look into whether to launch a formal investigation of China’s policies on intellectual property, which the White House and U.S. industry groups say are harming U.S. businesses and jobs.
The United States should respect objective facts, act prudently, abide by its World Trade Organization pledges, and not destroy principles of multilateralism, an unidentified spokesman of China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
“If the U.S. side ignores the facts, and disrespects multilateral trade principles in taking actions that harms both sides trade interests, China will absolutely not sit by and watch, will inevitably adopt all appropriate measures, and resolutely safeguard China’s lawful rights.”
The ministry said the United States should “treasure” the cooperation and favourable state of China-U.S. trade relations, and warned that any U.S. action to damage ties would “harm both sides trade relations and companies”. China was continuously strengthening its administrative and judicial protections for intellectual property, the ministry added.
China’s policy of forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese joint venture partners and failure to crack down on intellectual property theft have been longstanding problems for several U.S. administrations.