Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

US, China Agree to Talk Trade Secrets Protection; China Pushes Back on Chip Controls

Officials from the U.S. and China will meet in January to hold “technical discussions” on ways to better protect trade secrets, the Commerce Department said in a readout of a meeting last week between Secretary Gina Raimondo and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao. Commerce said the two countries will bring together “subject matter experts” to talk about “strengthening the protection of trade secrets and confidential business information during administrative licensing proceedings."

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The agency also said Raimondo “reinforced that protecting national security is not negotiable.” She also “underscored that U.S. export controls are narrowly targeted at technologies that have clear national security impacts or promote foreign policy objectives, and are not designed to contain China’s economic growth.”

The announcement of the upcoming technical discussions comes about three months after the U.S. and China agreed to create a new group to exchange information on export control enforcement (see 2308280042 and 2308300036) and one day after Commerce removed a Chinese science institute from the Entity List that it had accused in 2020 of having ties to human rights abuses in Xinjiang (see 2311160003).

In Beijing's readout of the meeting, the country's Commerce Ministry said Wang raised concerns about the U.S. having recently updated export controls on semiconductors and chipmaking equipment (see 2310170055 and 2311150029) and asked the U.S. to stop the “politicization” of its trade restrictions, according to an unofficial translation.

China’s Commerce Ministry said the two sides “had in-depth exchanges on national security issues in the economic and trade field.” Wang “emphasized” that the “generalization and politicization of national security affects normal trade and investment exchanges,” and he “expressed concerns about the final rules of the U.S. semiconductor export control to China” as well as U.S. sanctions that “suppress” Chinese companies and U.S. inbound and outbound investment restrictions.

The ministry also said the U.S. and China plan to hold the first meeting of a commerce and “trade working group” during the first quarter next year, adding that “the two sides conducted pragmatic, constructive and fruitful communications on Sino-U.S. economic and trade relations and economic and trade issues of common concern.”