09:22 GMT +315 December 2019
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    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2017 file photo, an American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

    Trump Administration Plans to Increase Pressure on China - Reports

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    Washington is reportedly planning a series of actions targeting Chinese trade, cyber and economic policies in order to pressure Beijing to change its practices.

    The moves reportedly were contemplated for months by a handful of federal agencies, senior administration officials told the New York Times. The sources said that the new measures are expected to be announced as early as this Wednesday amid the growing concern that China will not change its practices of allegedly hacking and setting up trade barriers for American imports.

    READ MORE: Judge Grants Bail to Huawei CFO Charged With Defrauding US

    The action was reportedly coordinated by Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, and several other administration officials. They were frustrated and unconvinced by China’s promises of sweeping changes to its treatment of American intellectual property and technology transfer as well as its commitment to increase its purchases of American goods.

    The Justice Department is preparing to announce the indictments of several hackers that the United States believes worked for the Chinese government and have targeted American companies for years, according to a government official briefed on the plan this week, cited by the NYT. Also, the Commerce Department could release new rules for Chinese semiconductors and could possibly set up new boundaries for Chinese companies seeking to obtain telecommunications components, a senior American official with knowledge of the plans said.

    The administration plans to keep the campaign of pressure on China to ensure that Beijing lives up to the commitments that President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China agreed to during a G20 meeting in Buenos Aires earlier this month, following an agreement on a 90-day trade truce.

    Administration officials believe that adding pressure on China will allow the US to have leverage in negotiations with Beijing, introducing a proper mechanism for punishing China that could lead to changes in their counterpart’s behaviour.

    However, this approach reportedly might backfire on the US considering that high-profile tech executives and others with ties to China’s Ministry of State Security have become a target for investigation. The recent arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, has reportedly enraged China, which has accused the United States and Canada of violating human rights. On Tuesday, the International Crisis Group said that one of its employees, a former Canadian diplomat, has been detained in China. The disappearance of the former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, reportedly could further raise the tensions between China and Canada.

    The trade negotiations between both sides are now centred around an agreement that involves a commitment by China to increase purchases of American goods and services by $1.2 trillion over the next several years. The US President on Tuesday called the talks “very productive”. Trump also had expressed optimism around the talks, saying to “watch for some important announcements.”

    The Chinese Commerce Ministry announced that Liu He, Chinese senior economist, took part in a telephone call with Steven Mnuchin, the US treasury secretary, and Lighthizer to discuss plans for future meetings to roll out a final version of a trade pact. The sides are hoping to reach an agreement by the March 1, 2019 deadline.

    White House officials declined to comment as to whether the situation surrounding the Huawei chief financial officer was discussed in the phone call. US officials have previously stressed that the issue with Meng Wanzhou is completely separate from the trade negotiations and that they hoped that it wouldn’t interfere with the economic discussions.

    “This is a criminal justice matter,” Lighthizer said in an interview with CBS on Sunday. “It is totally separate from anything that I work on or anything that the trade policy people in the administration work on.”

    On Tuesday evening Canadian judge has granted bail for Meng Wanzhou. Also, the US President Donald Trump said less than an hour after Meng's bail was set that he would intervene in her case if it served US national security interests or helped the US and China reach a trade agreement.

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    Tags:
    tariff war, US-China trade war, sanctions, US Commerce Department, Meng Wanzhou, Liu He, Robert Lighthizer, Donald Trump, China, United States
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