Opening the door on China’s ‘coercive’ trading policy

The US aims to curb the muzzling tactics used to silence American firms by the ruling Communist Party

Washington aims to curb China’s policy of economic blackmail to silence American companies.

In the past two years, there has been a raft of cases involving major US global brands. Many were forced to embrace “appeasement” towards the ruling Chinese Communist Party to grab a slice of an economy worth more than US$15 trillion.

Flashpoint issues involved the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang province and the status of Taiwan.

“Former US Attorney General William Barr said last year that Hollywood companies routinely caved to pressure and censored their films to ‘appease’ China, which last year overtook the United States as the world’s largest film market,” the Reuters news agency reported.

The facts:

  • A bipartisan group of US senators is planning to revive legislation to combat “coercive” practices.
  • High-profile cases involved the ban by China’s government on National Basketball Association games in 2019.
  • They were taken off the air after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong’s democracy protests.
  • Global airlines and hotel chains have also been targeted about the status of Taiwan.

What was said: Joe Biden has already spoken out on China’s “coercive and unfair” trading practices. The US President has made it clear that the use of economic blackmail by the CCP will not be tolerated.

Delve deeper: The new censorship bill will be co-sponsored by Republicans Marco Rubio and John Cornyn, as well as Democrat Elizabeth Warren. “[It] would direct the president to set up an interagency task force under the National Security Council to monitor and address China’s censorship or intimidation of Americans and US companies,” Reuters reported.

China Factor comment: President Xi Jinping’s administration has been using the dark arts, such as “coercion,” to silence global groups if they want to do business in China. At least now, it is out in the open. Still, it remains uncertain whether this latest move will rein in Beijing’s excesses.