SEATTLE (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday threatened trade sanctions against China if the world’s No. 2 economy does not halt what he said was currency manipulation, unfair subsidies and rampant intellectual property theft.
“As president, I will present China with a clear choice,” said Romney in an advance copy of a speech to be delivered later on Thursday near Seattle. “Either abide by your commitments, open your markets, and respect our property, or else the days of open access to our markets, our ideas, and our companies, are over.”
Romney, who is to address Microsoft Corp employees at its Redmond, Washington, headquarters, said the United States should impose duties and tariffs on Chinese goods, and block the transfer of some technology, if Beijing continues these practices.
The world’s largest software maker is especially interested in intellectual property issues, having lost billions of dollars in Chinese sales over the years due to piracy.
Romney outlined a similar tough stance on China last month, as he sought to stake out differences with President Barack Obama and tap into the U.S. public’s rising concern over China’s economic and military growth.
The former Massachusetts governor is a leader among Republicans seeking the nomination to run against Obama in 2012. But fewer than one in four of the party’s voters back him as a surging Herman Cain gains ground, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.
Romney believes the Obama administration has been weak on advancing overseas agreements that might boost free trade, although Wednesday’s vote by Congress to approve long-delayed trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama may take the edge off such criticism.
On the currency issue, the Senate approved a controversial bill aimed at forcing China to raise the value of the yuan earlier this week, in an effort to save American jobs, but its fate in the House of Representatives is uncertain. China denounced the vote as a protectionist step.
Earlier on Thursday, Romney named three of former President George W. Bush’s advisers to his campaign’s trade team, including Carlos Gutierrez, who was Bush’s Secretary of Commerce from 2005 to 2009.
Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Jackie Frank