Highlights of This Month’s Edition:
• Bilateral trade: In October 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit increased 22.3 percent year-on-year to reach a record high of $43.1 billion; declines in export categories targeted by retaliatory tariffs contributed to the sharp deficit increase.
• Bilateral policy issues: Escalation in U.S. and Chinese tariffs halted for 90 days, but longstanding U.S. concerns about China’s technology transfer, intellectual property (IP) theft, and innovation policies remain unaddressed; the Chinese government commits to take additional steps to combat illicit fentanyl flows, purchase U.S. agricultural products, but details of the agreement remain unclear; the U.S. government took action against Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, citing IP violations, and trade secret theft from Micron (the largest U.S. memory chip maker), and risks to the U.S. military supply chain; Huawei executive arrested for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales reach another record high, but the pace of growth has slowed, reflecting a weaker Chinese economy and rising competition from other e-commerce platforms and promotional events.
• In Focus – Lithium-ion batteries: China has positioned itself to dominate global supply chains and production of lithium-ion batteries, a core technology enabling the adoption of electric vehicles and transportation.
China is the largest market for trafficked wildlife products. Its demand has been an important factor leading to declines in iconic species such as elephants and big cats, as well as in lesser-known species like pangolins. Although China’s legal regime establishes protections for many endangered species, loopholes regarding captive breeding and antitrafficking enforcement create opportunities for the illicit wildlife trade to flourish. Success in combating this trade varies by species: regarding the trade in elephant ivory, for example, a confluence of domestic and international pressure culminated in a U.S.-China joint ivory ban, completed in early 2018. Though indications following the ban appear promising, China’s recent partial reversal of its ban on the use of rhino horn and tiger bone highlights continuing shortcomings in its effort to combat wildlife trafficking.
This issue brief provides an update to the Commission's February 2017 report on fentanyl flows from China, examining the progress of negotiations between U.S. and Chinese law enforcement authorities. Although the Chinese government has taken steps to reduce the manufacture and export of fentanyl-like substances, China remains the largest source of illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-like substances in the United States. To combat these flows, U.S. authorities have begun taking legal actions against known Chinese drug traffickers, including announcing the first ever indictments and sanctions against Chinese fentanyl traffickers.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is mandated by Congress to investigate, assess, and report to Congress annually on “the national security implications of the economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.” Pursuant to this mandate, the Commission’s 2018 Annual Report to Congress covers a range of topics on the U.S.-China economic and security relationship. These include U.S.-China economic challenges; China’s agricultural policies; military modernization; the Belt and Road Initiative; relations with U.S. allies and partners, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; evolving strategy toward North Korea; and investment in next generation connectivity.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: In Q3 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China grew 12 percent to $115.6 billion on importers rushing orders as tariffs begin to bite; U.S. services exports to China reach a record $20.5 billion.
• Bilateral policy issues: The U.S. Department of the Treasury declined to name China a currency manipulator in its October 2018 currency report, but kept China on a monitoring list, citing its significant trade surplus with the United States.
• Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s GDP grew 6.5 percent in Q3 2018, its slowest pace since 2009; the Chinese government is implementing stimulus measures to support short-term economic growth; Chinese households’ falling consumption and rising debt levels prompt worries about China’s rebalancing; local governments resurrect share-buying program to placate jittery stock market investors; state-run media ordered to cloak signs of falling consumer confidence; President Xi conjures images of Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour, stresses the need for “self-reliance” in manufacturing and technology.
The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.