The United States views China as one of its main competitors in the struggle for power over global resources and markets. With the rapid build-up of U.S. military equipment in Australia over recent months — reaching a scale not seen since World War II — some might wonder if a conflict is imminent, whether the U.S. takes an offensive operation in Asia or defends its allies and interests from a Chinese offensive. (These are 26 times the U.S. sent armed forces to China.)
Looming military engagements are not the only site of conflict between the world’s two largest economies. The massive trade flows as well as competition over rights to technological developments between the two nations mean trade regulations and world trade agreements have major consequences. China supplies $536.3 billion in goods to the U.S., or 16.5% of U.S. imports annually, the most of any nation.
According to a factsheet released by the U.S. department of the treasury on Aug. 9, 2023, President Joe Biden has issued an executive order that will restrict U.S. investments in Chinese technology. The order includes investments in semiconductor, quantum information, and artificial intelligence technology. The “Countries of Concern” include China and the administrative regions Hong Kong and Macao.
China denounced the executive order, with a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stating that “China strongly deplores and firmly opposes the US’s single-minded rollout of restrictions on investments in China.” The spokesperson also said that the move is “politicizing business engagement” and that it is “blatant economic coercion and tech bullying,” which “violates the principles of market economy and fair competition,” and “destabilizes global industrial and supply chains and hurts the interests of both China and the US and the global business community.”
Most notably under former President Donald Trump but continued under Biden, the U.S. ramped up its application of Section 232 — the section of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act — that allows the president to impose trade restrictions. From 2017 to 2022, the number of investigations launched under the Act represent nearly a quarter of all Section 232 investigations initiated by the U.S. in the past 60 years. (Also see, comparing America’s 20 richest cities to China’s.)
24/7 Wall St. reviewed nine investigations conducted since 2017 by the U.S. or U.S.-based entities from the August report, “2023 Report on WTO Compliance of the United States” (table Section 232 Investigations Launched in Recent 5 Years).
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