China uses “United Front” work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)—the agency responsible for coordinating these kinds of influence operations—mostly focuses on the management of potential opposition groups inside China, but it also has an important foreign influence mission. To carry out its influence activities abroad, the UFWD directs “overseas Chinese work,” which seeks to co-opt ethnic Chinese individuals and communities living outside China, while a number of other key affiliated organizations guided by China’s broader United Front strategy conduct influence operations targeting foreign actors and states. Some of these entities have clear connections to the CCP’s United Front strategy, while others’ linkage is less explicit. Today, United Front-related organizations are playing an increasingly important role in China’s broader foreign policy under Chinese President and General Secretary of the CCP Xi Jinping. It is precisely the nature of United Front work to seek influence through connections that are difficult to publically prove and to gain influence that is interwoven with sensitive issues such as ethnic, political, and national identity, making those who seek to identify the negative effects of such influence vulnerable to accusations of prejudice. Because of the complexities of this issue, it is crucial for the U.S. government to better understand Beijing’s United Front strategy, its goals, and the actors responsible for achieving them if it is to formulate an effective and comprehensive response.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: In the first half of 2018, the U.S. goods trade deficit with China reached $185.7 billion, up about 9 percent year-on-year; in the month of June, U.S. agricultural exports to China declined 34.4 percent and livestock declined 39.2 percent year-on-year; in services, the United States reached a record high trade surplus with China in Q1 2018, but exports of travel—the main driver of U.S. service exports to China—slowed to their lowest year-on-year growth in 14 years.
• Bilateral policy issues: Following tariffs imposed July 6, the United States initiated WTO cases against five trade partners, and published a list of tariffs on $200 billion worth of additional Chinese imports, as China threatens retaliation; Chinese regulators fail to approve Qualcomm’s proposed acquisition of NXP.
• Quarterly review of China’s economy: China’s officially-reported GDP growth slowed to 6.7 percent year-on-year in Q2 2018 as fixed asset investment, industrial output, and retail sales lose steam; Chinese policymakers implement measures to increase credit growth and spur economic activity despite pledges to focus on deleveraging; the RMB’s value falls due to trade tensions and signs of an economic slowdown in China, raising concerns Beijing could use currency devaluations to offset the impact of U.S. tariffs.
Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has leveraged relatively cheap labor, large economies of scale, industrial policies, and the manufacturing capabilities of neighboring countries to become an export powerhouse in an increasing range of industries, while often limiting market access for foreign products. China’s scale as a trading power coupled with its protectionist policies have contributed to rising tensions in bilateral trade relations. This report describes and analyzes patterns in the U.S.-China trade relationship in 2012–2017 and is an update to a staff research report published by the Commission in November 2012 which covered trends in trade in 2000–2011.
Highlights of This Month’s Edition
• Bilateral trade: U.S.-China goods trade deficit reached $33.2 billion in May 2018, and $152.2 billion year-to-date.
• Bilateral policy issues: U.S. tariffs against $34 billion worth of Chinese imports go into effect as China implements retaliatory action and takes steps to dull the impact of U.S. tariffs on China’s economy; U.S. Department of Commerce reverses ZTE exclusion order, but Members of Congress are working on legislation to reinstate sanctions.
• Policy trends in China’s economy: Chinese investment in the United States fell 90 percent year-on-year to $1.8 billion in the first five months of 2018 due, in part, to Beijing’s intensified scrutiny of outbound flows; China issues new foreign investment negative list, lifting ownership restrictions in 22 industries, including airplane design and manufacturing, agriculture, automotive, banking, railway construction, and shipping.
• Sector Focus – China Pursues Foreign Semiconductor Technology: Since 2015, U.S. semiconductor firm Micron has been subject to a persistent, wide-ranging technology acquisition campaign from multiple Chinese actors, involving an attempted purchase, alleged IP theft, a direct challenge of Micron’s IP in China, and an on-going antitrust case.
Since President Xi took office in 2013, Beijing has significantly bolstered its involvement in the Pacific Islands region, which comprises three U.S. territories and three countries freely associated with the United States that are important for U.S. defense interests in the Indo-Pacific. Much of China’s engagement in the region has focused on expanding economic ties with the Pacific Islands, but it has also increased its footprint in the diplomatic and security realms. This report examines China’s interests in the region, its comprehensive engagement in the Pacific Islands, and the implications of its expanding presence and influence for the United States.
This hearing is intended to explore U.S. policy options available to address Chinese market distortions. The first panel, “A Coordinated Policy Response to Chinese State Capitalism,” will address industrial policy challenges like subsidies, price distortions, and investment restrictions. The second panel, “A Coordinated Policy Response to China’s Techno-nationalism,” will focus on challenges from China’s push to develop domestic-led intellectual property, including technology transfer, IP or data theft, and restrictions on cross-border data flows.
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.