Recall the start of President Donald Trump’s response to the People’s Republic of China’s economic conflict with us, when he began imposing tariffs on PRC goods over their continued theft of American companies’ intellectual property.
Vice President Wang warned US business chieftains there would be corporate casualties. President Xi told others that Beijing would “punch back” at the US.
Now we’re getting sweet words.
Liu He, President Xi Jinping’s economic-policy chief, told visiting American business representatives that US companies’ China operations won’t be targeted in Beijing’s trade-brawl counterattacks. “We won’t allow retribution against foreign companies,” Mr Liu said[.]
No, this is not a change in tone. It’s smoke-blowing and just a change in tactics. The PRC still is requiring foreign companies—especially American companies—to take on a majority partner as a condition of doing business in the PRC. Sure, the government is making noises about only requiring a minority partner (49% ownership), but they’ve enacted nothing.
The PRC still is requiring foreign companies—especially American companies—to install backdoors in their operating system software and their software products so the government can enter and poke around to its heart’s content.
The PRC still is hacking into American businesses and our government facilities to steal our companies’ and government’s secrets.
On the other hand, that last may indicate that the change in tone is serious. The PRC may have gained enough confidence in its hacking chops that it doesn’t feel the need to demand the surrender of our secrets; it may be confident that it can steal them at will.
Either way, there’s no reason to take Liu at his word. Actions matter.