Articles Tagged with China

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Further to our alert published on November 13, 2017 regarding whether acts, policies, and practices (APPs) of China related to transfer of technology, intellectual property, and innovation are actionable under Section 301(b)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974 (Section 301), it is anticipated that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will make affirmative findings and remedy recommendations well ahead of the August 2018 statutory deadline, potentially as early as January 2018. USTR is authorized to take specified actions (noted below), “subject to the specific direction, if any, of the President regarding such action[s]” and is authorized to take “all other appropriate and feasible action within the power of the President that the President may direct USTR to take.”

According to USTR officials, if the United States makes an affirmative determination, the next steps will likely proceed in two tracks: (1) the United States may elect to initiate a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute regarding the APPs, if they are considered to be in violation of WTO commitments, and/or (2) the United States may take unilateral retaliatory action.  Below, we comment briefly on both tracks.

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President Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting the proposed acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor (Lattice) by a Chinese consortium known as Canyon Bridge. Lattice is a semiconductor company primarily manufacturing programmable logic devices.  The Executive Order prohibits the proposed acquisition and any substantially equivalent transaction, and requires the parties to permanently abandon the proposed transaction in 30 days. The Executive Order follows a lengthy review process with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This is only the fourth time since the enactment of the Exon-Florio Amendment in 1988 that a transaction has been formally blocked.

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Recent public reports indicate Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Democratic Leader, has authored a letter to President Trump requesting the President order the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to suspend the approval of all covered transactions by Chinese entities.  Sen. Schumer explains that such action would place severe economic pressure on China and force the country to take more stringent action against North Korea.  While President Trump has publicly expressed “disappointment” with China over its perceived lack of response to recent North Korean missile tests, it is unclear what actions, if any, the President might take to spur action from China.

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On June 29, 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new steps applying pressure on North Korea in relation to its proliferation activities.  Specifically, this involved (1) sanctions designations against Chinese shipping company Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co., Ltd. and two Chinese individuals; and (2) anti-money laundering special measures against China’s Bank of Dandong.  All were involved in business with North Korea according to the Treasury Department’s announcement.

The Special Measures for Bank of Dandong under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act prohibit U.S. financial institutions from maintaining correspondent accounts for, or on behalf of, that bank.  This would prevent access to the U.S. banking system for dollar transactions or wiring services.

None of the sanctioned parties appear to be systemically important companies for China, but the sanctions may be intended, or viewed, as an effort by the Trump Administration to pressure China into doing more to restrain North Korea’s nuclear activities.