National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in for help on working with China on Friday.
“At some point we’d be interested to hear how you’re dealing with the Chinese policies and how you could help us in dealing with Chinese policies,” Cohn said in candid comments on camera because the press was invited in to view the start of the meeting.
- infringement on intellectual property rights
- being forced to transfer technology into China
- requirements that U.S. firms form joint ventures with Chinese companies to operate in the country
- and the U.S.’s inability to own companies in China.
The detailed list follows the Trump administration’s tough turn this week on China. The Treasury on Thursday sanctioned a Chinese shipping firm and two Chinese citizens tied to North Korea. The U.S. also plans to sell Taiwan $1.42 billion in arms, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a U.S. State Department spokeswoman.
Then on Friday, Axios reported the White House is “hell-bent” on potentially imposing roughly 20 percent tariffs on imports from countries such as China.
South Korea is China’s largest source of imports, and the smaller country’s economy has come under significant pressure from Beijing for allowing the U.S. to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea. Although the system is intended to deflect North Korean missiles, China views it as a security threat and has boycotted and banned South Korean products.
After winning the election in early May, Moon temporarily suspended deployment of the missile defense system. Last week, Moon said he would ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift its retaliatory measures against South Korean businesses. He also said China should do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.
Trump has criticized standing policies on U.S. trade with both China and South Korea. In 2016, the U.S. had a $347 billion trade goods deficit with China and a $27.7 billion deficit with South Korea, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
“Much of our biggest problem on trade has to do with our economic relationship with China,” Cohn said. “We have maintained a very large trade deficit with China and it continues to grow.”
— Reuters contributed to this report.