US will work as aggressively as possible to protect American workers and businesses from ‘unfair’ Chinese trade practices: Commerce Secretary

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Describing China’s trade practices as “uncompetitive, coercive and underhanded,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has said the Biden administration plans to use all the tools in its possession, as aggressively as possible, to protect American workers and businesses from Beijing’s “unfair” actions. Addressing her maiden news conference at the White House, she said that to compete in the long run with China, efforts must be made to rebuild America.

“We have to work with our allies and find common ground where we can. With respect to tariffs, there is a place for tariffs. You know the 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium have, in fact, helped save American jobs in the steel and aluminium industries,” she said, referring to the previous Trump administration’s tariffs on imported aluminium.

Three years ago, former president Donald Trump levied 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminium from most countries, saying it was a matter of national security to ensure domestic production of the metals could survive.

“The fact is China’s actions are uncompetitive, coercive, underhanded. They’ve proven they’ll do whatever it takes. So I plan to use all the tools in my toolbox, as aggressively as possible, to protect American workers and businesses from unfair Chinese practices,” Raimondo said.

“So what do we do with tariffs? We have to level the playing field. No one can outcompete the American worker if the playing field is levelled,” the commerce secretary said.

During his tenure, Trump, a Republican, pushed aggressively on all aspects of US-China ties, including with his relentless trade war, challenging China’s military hold on the disputed South China Sea, its constant threats to Taiwan, the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the Tibet issue. Trump’s four years in power are regarded as the worst phase in China-US relations.

Under president Trump, the US placed tariffs on around USD 370 billion of Chinese goods, and President Joe Biden said during the presidential election campaign that he would not make any “immediate moves” to lift the tariffs.

China pledged to buy USD 200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years as part of the phase one trade deal signed in January 2020.

But according to statistics released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, the US goods deficit with China grew 11.4 per cent from January to USD 30.3 billion in February.

Raimondo said the American Jobs Plan is about making sure every American has the opportunity to get a decent job. A decent, well-paying job, with dignity and has an opportunity.

“It’s a historic investment in America, intended to create tens of millions of jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to outcompete China. Many have commented that it’s large, it’s bold. It’s necessarily large because, frankly, we’re behind, and we’ve neglected for too long important investments in our infrastructure,” she said.

“We need to ensure that investments in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, workforce development, and our care economy are made at the scale we need and are made in every single community in America, Raimondo said.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Lisa McClain led more than a dozen Republican lawmakers in writing a letter to the United States Ambassador to the United Nations questioning why China is on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council when they are the number one violator of human rights.

“China’s treatment of the Uyghurs is atrocious and reason enough for them to not have a seat on the UN Human Rights’ Council,” said. McClain.

“Now, we are seeing reports that the Chinese Communist Party is sending Christians to brainwashing camps and torturing them for their beliefs. It is past time we stand up for religious freedom. The Biden administration needs to stand up to China,” she said.

In the Senate, Senators Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Kevin Cramer, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Brau, and Rick Scott introduced the Transparency for Confucius Institutes Act.

“Confucius Institutes allow the Chinese regime to funnel propaganda into American universities under the guise of educational enrichment,” said Hawley.

The Chinese Communist Party funds and operates 55 Confucius Institutes at colleges and universities across America.

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