Washington Update

September 18th, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Allie Klein

WTO rules against Trump tariffs on China

On Tuesday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the Trump administration tariffs on China, finding that the United States had imposed discriminatory and excessive tariffs on Chinese imports and had not demonstrated that these tariff measures were justified under Article XX(a) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1994. In a related development, a group of importers filed suit in the US Court of International Trade...

September 11th, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Allie Klein

Possible ban on Xinjiang cotton delayed

Earlier this week, there were rumblings around Washington that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would be taking action to ban all cotton, textiles, and tomato imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) due to forced labor concerns. The formal announcement of a reportedly already-drafted withhold release order (WRO) was put on pause this Tuesday due to scheduling issues according to an agency spokesperson. WROs covering specific...

September 4th, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Allie Klein

Forthcoming action on Chinese apps

Statements this week from US officials suggest that recent executive orders targeting Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat may only be the beginning. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday told Fox News that US actions against TikTok are meant to prevent US citizens’ information “from being placed in the hands of the Chinese national security apparatus,” seemingly referring to Chinese national security laws that technically provide justification for...

August 28th, 2020
By Anna Ashton

Phase One check in held quietly Monday night 

On Monday night, top trade officials held a Phase One agreement 6-month check in, a meeting that was called off by President Trump earlier this month just hours before the originally scheduled date. According to a press release, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and China’s Vice Premier Liu He discussed steps China is taking to “ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove...

August 21st, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Allie Klein

New entity listings further restrict Huawei

The Commerce Department this week added another 38 Huawei affiliates in 21 countries to the Entity List, further restricting Huawei’s access to items produced domestically and abroad using US technology and software. The move has broad business implications not only for US companies, but for Asian and European companies in the semiconductor sector as well. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the new measures which expand the...

August 14th, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Chynna Hawes

Lighthizer and Liu He Phase One meeting delayed

A video-conference meeting between US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Vice Premier Liu He expected to take place Saturday has been postponed to an unknown date. Though China’s Phase One purchase commitments are behind schedule, Lighthizer has repeatedly expressed confidence in China’s commitment to the deal. Signaling greater confidence in China’s progress in meeting purchase commitments,...

August 7th, 2020
By Chynna Hawes

US moves forward with Hong Kong sanctions in response to China’s National Security Law

The Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese and Hong Kong officials—including Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and Xia Baolong, Director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office—for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and restricting the rights of Hong Kong citizens. The individuals were added to the Specially Designated...

July 31st, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Chynna Hawes

Pompeo’s testimony foreshadowed Xinjiang sanctions that dropped today

In his testimony on the State Department’s 2021 budget request before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called China the most “central threat of our times.” Pompeo credited the State Department’s “vigorous diplomacy,” detailing a long list of actions toward China. He highlighted US actions to sanction Chinese leaders for human rights abuses in Xinjiang and warned that...

July 24th, 2020
By Chynna Hawes

Tensions rise over Houston, Chengdu consulates

Diplomatic tensions spiked this week after the State Department ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston to close no later than today, citing intellectual property theft concerns. China’s foreign ministry said the demand violates international law and the bilateral consular agreement, and today ordered the US consulate in Chengdu to close, a proportional response suggesting the Chinese government does not want the situation to escalate....

July 17th, 2020
By Anna Ashton and Chynna Hawes

Trump revokes Hong Kong special status and signs Hong Kong Autonomy Act

At a press conference on Tuesday, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which calls for sanctions on Chinese officials and banks involved in the erosion of civil liberties, and announced an executive order including punitive measures in response to China’s new National Security Law. Trump also indicated that more executive orders would be coming, specifically on US capital flows to Chinese military...