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ITIF President Advocates for Limiting Chinese Investment

The U.S. government must take a host of actions to slow down Chinese "techno-economic dominance," including preventing Chinese firms from being listed on U.S. stock markets and limiting investment into China, Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said in an Aug. 28 post.

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China is seeking to advance its own emerging industries by "inflicting damage" on American competitors, Atkinson said. He warned that focusing solely on "speeding up" American competitiveness would not protect against Chinese "innovation mercantilism" without simultaneous measures to "throw sand in the gears" of China's innovation system. American companies in advanced industries cannot compete against Chinese firms backed by the Beijing government, Atkinson said.

Although he backed U.S. plans to increase innovation, pointing to semiconductor incentives included as part of the Chips Act, he said he doubts that Congress and the White House could effect any "comprehensive advanced-industry competitiveness policy." Atkinson also believes that a multilateral approach is no longer possible because the WTO lacks powers and because Europe sees China as an important economic opportunity and fears economic retaliation. That, Atkinson said, likely leaves the U.S. alone to combat China economically.

In addition to limiting investment into China and blocking Chinese firms on U.S. markets, Atkinson proposed a host of other measures, including selective tariffs, increasing commercial espionage investigations and penalties for intellectual property theft, ceasing scientific and technology collaboration, exempting U.S. firms from foreign bribery laws and helping U.S. firms win deals against Chinese firms with the Export-Import Bank.

Atkinson also said the U.S. should consider providing antitrust exemptions, banning government procurement of Chinese goods and services, broadening foreign investment reviews, requiring disclosure of Chinese funding for academic institutions, requiring disclosure of corporate technology sharing, and passing the Defending American Courts Act, which, if passed, could limit foreign interference in patent infringement claims in the U.S.

Atkinson also warned that although decisive measures are needed, he remains wary of arguments for "full economic decoupling," saying that it would hurt the U.S. as well as China. Preventing U.S. firms from exporting non-sensitive goods to China would "cede the Chinese market to U.S. competitors," he said.