US-China Current Affairs - 2019
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United States has slapped stiff 25% tariff on US $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. It has accused China of intellectual property (IP) theft and unfair trade practices. This decision has triggered full-fledged trade war between world’s two largest economies.
The tariffs will be applied in two waves. The first will apply to 818 Chinese goods worth $34 billion and in second wave it will apply to 284 goods worth another $16 billion. The focus of the tariffs is on industrial goods, particularly in areas identified under China’s Made in China 2025 plan designed to encourage growth in particular industries. It generally focuses on products from industrial sectors that contribute to or benefit from “Made in China 2025” industrial policy. It includes industries such as information and communications technology (ICT), aerospace, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials, and automobiles.
US’s decision to impose fresh tariffs on China follows his recent imposition of steep tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, European Union and Mexico on national security grounds. The EU and Canada are planning to enact retaliatory tariffs starting in July 2018. Mexico has already retaliated with its own tariffs on US goods.
The United States is set to declare China as one among the world’s worst offenders on human trafficking in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The report will be unveiled by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the US Congress.
The declaration would place China in the same category as North Korea, Zimbabwe and Syria.
The move will be Donald Trump administration’s first major public rebuke of China’s human rights record. Trump’s administration has so far avoided direct public criticism of China. The report is expected to receive condemnation from China’s Communist government. The US is seeking China’s cooperation in combatting North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
China will be placed in “Tier 3,” which will be the ranking system’s lowest category. Countries listed in this tier are those who have failed to meet minimum standards to prevent human trafficking. Countries like Sudan, Iran and Haiti have recently been on that list.
As per the report, forced begging in China which particularly affects children is a matter of great concern. In the previous year’s report, the US had placed China on its “watch list.” Countries which are placed in the watch list are those who are not meeting minimum standards. The 2016 report had called China as a “source, destination and transit country” for forced labour and sex trafficking. In this year’s report, China has been downgraded to the lowest classification as it had not increased its anti-trafficking efforts from the previous year.
Countries placed on Tier 3 are liable to be penalised with sanctions, including the withholding of non-humanitarian aid and assistance that could affect agreements with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Officials of the Tier-3 countries are also liable to be barred from participating in US government educational and cultural exchange programs. However, the US president retains the authority to waive the sanctions taking into account national interest or if he feels that the penalties could adversely affect vulnerable populations. The previous administrations of the US have often granted waivers for the tier-3 countries.