The economic relationship of the US with China has been "unbalanced" and "grossly unfair" to Americans, a top Trump administration official told lawmakers Tuesday and listed out the steps being taken to address the challenge.
The Trump administration has used section 301 to investigate the unfair trade practices in China, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during a Congressional hearing on Chinese trade practices convened by the Senate Finance Committee.
"We believe our economic relationship with China has been unbalanced and grossly unfair to American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses for decades. As many members know, after an exhaustive process, we put tariffs on certain Chinese products and are preparing to do more if certain issues cannot be resolved satisfactorily," he said.
Responding to questions, Lighthizer rued previous administrations did not put enough efforts to address the problem posed by China. "We think we had an untenable situation with China, one that should have been addressed frankly a couple of decades ago. It's a long history of them violating the norms of intellectual property... and not keeping promises," he said.
"So, we are in a position where we view ourselves as having the most serious problem you can face in the trade space with nothing less than jobs of our children on the line and if you face that then there are going to be issues," Lighthizer said.
The US, he said, is involved in a very difficult trade struggle. "It is one that not only do we have to engage in but should have been engaged in for decades before and it was to the shame of all of the people who have these kinds of jobs and I would say members as well as us that we have not focused on this issue enough and there are issues that will come up with it and we are trying to make it as small as possible," Lighthizer said.
"What we have seen in many cases is people moving the manufacture of these jobs, of these products out of China in which case there is no problem. Another option, of course, is to move the manufacturing of these products to the US in which case there are no tariffs and no threat of tariffs,” he said.
"In the long term if I was in this business I can't predict what the US is going to do or whether we are going to be able to resolve this issue with China, my hope is that we can but if we can't if I were in that industry I would decide on other options down the road... including bringing some of the production back to the US," Lighthizer said.