U.S. to look at more restrictions on tech exports to China

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund, before U.S. trade delegation meet their Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration will look at adding “new targeted restrictions” on certain sensitive technology exports to China in cooperation with allies, a senior official said on Wednesday ahead of the new president’s first call with China’s leader Xi Jinping.

The U.S. will also not move to lift Chinese trade tariffs imposed by the Trump administration before it has conducted “intense consultation and review” with allies, the official told reporters during a briefing.

“We are maintaining those tariffs while we conduct our review because we’re not going to act precipitously,” he said.

“President Biden’s major criticism of the Trump strategy here was not that he wasn’t getting tough on China on trade, but that he was doing so alone, while also fighting our allies.”

The official said no decisions had been made yet on whether to lift the tariffs and that there would be areas of “continuity” with Trump’s policies.

“One of them is to ensure that we are not supplying highly sensitive technology that can advance China’s military capabilities. We will be bearing down on that,” he said, adding the administration would look at new targeted restrictions on technology exports to China in consultation with U.S. allies.

The official said Biden aimed to quickly work with Republicans to boost public investment in technology sectors crucial to the United States’ economic edge, including semiconductors, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

On the phone call with Xi, Biden “underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan,” the White House said in a statement.

Reporting by Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Grant McCool