Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a major address Tuesday that answered some of the Trump administration’s major criticisms. Xi pledged to improve the protection of intellectual property, along with increasing imports and offering a better environment for foreign investment.
So have the trade hawks in the Trump administration won?
Not so fast. Much of this has been offered before. But given the context of the speech, I am allowing a small bit of optimism about the Trump administration’s trade strategy. And it’s important to keep in mind that on two goals in particular, President Donald Trump is right on target.
The first critically important issue -- mentioned specifically by Xi -- is the forced transfer of technology from U.S. firms to Chinese partners as a condition of doing business in China. Over the past decade, the Chinese government has repeatedly committed to eliminating these requirements, but has not done so. And so Chinese companies continue to acquire U.S. technology, giving themselves a competitive advantage.
This is bad enough, but when coupled with China’s history of stealing U.S. intellectual property outright, Trump’s argument that we have been in a trade war with China for years is reasonable. You could credibly argue -- as columnist Greg Ip has -- that China started that war.