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Trade war

White House slams Chinese aggression to steal technology

Espionage through university students among allegations in report

The report cites such Chinese misconduct as espionage and cyberattacks to steal trade secrets.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The White House issued a report Tuesday condemning what it called Chinese violations of intellectual property rights, turning up the pressure on Beijing in an apparent effort to justify tariffs taking effect next month.

The paper, titled "How China's Economic Aggression Threatens the Technologies and Intellectual Property of the United States and the World," was produced by the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, which is led by outspoken China hawk Peter Navarro.

Tuesday's report detailed five broad categories of alleged Chinese misconduct, including use of espionage and cyberattacks to steal trade secrets. It expressed concern about information harvesting in the U.S., warning that Beijing could "manipulate or pressure even unwitting or unwilling Chinese nationals" at American universities or research institutions to gather militarily useful information.

China also uses "coercive and intrusive regulatory gambits" to force foreign companies to transfer technology or store important data locally as a condition of doing business, the report said.

The study accused Beijing of using its economic might to secure intellectual property, both directly through state-backed investments such as corporate acquisitions and indirectly by leveraging its purchasing power to pressure businesses. It criticized Chinese export restrictions on raw materials, which it said can "create pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations, technologies and jobs to China."

This follows a more detailed examination of China's alleged intellectual property violations released in March by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Washington used that study to justify its decision to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which gives the president broad latitude to punish trading partners for unfair practices.

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