A demonstrator holds sign outside Federal Plaza while protesting against U.S. President Donald Trump in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg)  

U.S. `Acting Like Bully' With High Tech Restrictions, China Says

(Bloomberg) -- China accused the U.S. of throwing its weight around in the trade arena, saying it advocates principles of fairness but isn’t living up to them.

In a further escalation of rhetoric over trade , foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying responded Friday to reports the U.S. Treasury Department is considering using an emergency law to curb Chinese investments in sensitive technologies.

"The U.S. is thinking and acting like a bully -- only it can have high tech and others cannot. With regard to the high tech restrictions, they are citing the reason of national security, but their motivation is protectionism. Is the U.S. really that fragile?" Hua said at the ministry’s daily briefing.

The U.S. government is reviewing the possible use of a law known as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, said Heath Tarbert, an assistant secretary in the agency’s international affairs office. Under the 1977 law, President Donald Trump could declare a national emergency in response to an “unusual and extraordinary threat,” allowing him to block transactions and seize assets.

Hua said the U.S. was being inconsistent. On the one hand, the Trump administration is asking China to open its markets while at the same time it creates obstacles for China. She said the U.S. actions go against the principles it espouses of equality, fairness and reciprocity.

Trump is pushing his administration to crack down on what he considers unfair trade practices by China. He has threatened tariffs on as much as $150 billion in Chinese imports in response to intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. Beijing has retaliated by proposing tariffs on $50 billion of American goods, and pledging further action if necessary.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from Dandan Li