Our Bureau
02:44 PM, March 26, 2018
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US F-35B (Left) and Chinese J-31 (right)

Tariffs and other restrictions imposed on China’s high-tech industry last week are intended to guard the US military’s and the American defence industry’s technological advantage, a US publication has said.

An order signed by President Trump imposes tariffs on about $50 billion worth of specific products from China, authorizes filing a World Trade Organization case against China, and puts limits on Chinese investment in US technology companies to protect them from being forced to share intellectual property with Chinese partner firms, the semi-official USNI News reported.

“We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on,” Trump said in a White House signing ceremony, explaining the reason for Thursday’s action.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said at the ceremony that China has a policy of forcing technology transfers between US companies and Chinese partners as part of doing business in the nation and acquiring U.S. technology through cyber theft.

Present at the White House signing ceremony was Marillyn Hewson, president and chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin, the defense contractor building the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, and is involved in various US Army, Navy and Air Force projects besides developing technology for several future weapons. Hewson said protecting intellectual property is “a critical area for the aerospace and defense industry.”

The US defence industry has in the past accused China of stealing technology to build some of its weapons systems such as the J-31 stealth fighter which looks surprisingly similar to the F-35, its Wing Loong attack and reconnaissance drones share a close resemblance to the American Predator drones.

Many US government officials have voiced concern that the gap between China and the US in terms of defence technology, is shrinking.

China on its part maintains that its defence technology is based on the ingenuity of its scientists and the determination of its government to make the country a leading military force of the 21st century.

China’s rising defense exports have caused a loss of market to the US and Europe. Beijing has become the world’s fifth leading defence exporter after the US, Russia, Germany and France. Its biggest customer is Pakistan and China has made inroads into Myanmar, Thailand and several African and Middle East countries.

Significantly, it exported its Wing Loong Drones to a Middle East nation, believed to be Saudi Arabia with certain technological features which the US was unwilling to certify for export.

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