U.S President Donald Trump will take up the issue of “predatory” trade and investment practices of China when he meets the country’s leaders including President Xi Jinping during a three-day visit to Beijing starting on November 8, a senior White House official said on Monday.
Mr. Trump will travel to to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines from Nov. 3 to14 in his first trip to Indo-Pacific, a term that official consistently used on Monday. The President is also scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in the Philippines. A meting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is also being considered, the official said.
Speaking about China last week ahead of his trip to South Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had also called out Beijing for what he termed predatory investment practices.
On November 8, President Trump will arrive in Beijing, China for a series of bilateral, commercial, and cultural events, including meetings with President Xi, the official said.
“The visit will send a clear signal that for bilateral economic relations to be sustainable, China must provide fair and reciprocal treatment to U.S companies and must desist from predatory trade and investment practices,” the official said. Asked to explain what he meant by “predatory,” the official said, he could take “half an hour” to talk about it and went on to cite some instances. “… the forced technology transfer; the fact that American companies have had an enormous amount of their intellectual property stolen, sometimes through cyber-enabled means, and also through other means as well; the complete lack or reciprocity in investment permissions for services companies…Right now, to my knowledge, there’s not a single American web company that has succeeded in China. That is really something else, if you think about that for a moment. But more to come later on that.”
Mr. Tillerson had spoken about “predatory” practices in the context of Chinese financing models for infrastructure in developing countries, that he said saddled these countries with debt and did not create jobs as foreign workers came with the investment. The White House official’s focus was more on the U.S – China bilateral trade and investment issues and the situation in North Korea, which he said would be the two key focus areas of Mr. Trump’s first visit to Beijing as President.
The official, however, added that the visit to Asia, also “reaffirms US leadership in the Indo-Pacific,” and demonstrate the fact that U.S “alliance with Japan is the cornerstone of the stability and rules based order on Indo-Pacfic.” Mr. Trump spoke to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to congratulate him on his recent electoral victory on Sunday. “The two leaders underscored the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and a strong United States-Japan alliance,” a separate statement from the White House said.
Mr. Trump will be meeting Mr. Xi within weeks of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, where the latter has articulated a new vision for China. “It will be an era that sees China moving closer to center stage,” Mr. Xi had said. “President Xi coming out of the 19th Party Congress provides the opportunity to get something done..to put us on a good footing for the relationship, deep into the future…in ensuring a more equitable economic partnership, in security cooperation and painting the rule based order in the that part of the world,” the White House official said.
The official said “we have seen China doing unprecedented things” to increase pressure on North Korea, but “there is more that we all can do” to put more pressure and ensure that a peaceful resolution to a “serious security situation” can be reached. The official said Beijing realizes that North Korea is “China is a strategic liability not only to the world, to China also,” adding that “China could also do things beyond that are that mandated by the UN,” to get Pyongyang around.