Mattis visits China as tensions mount over militarization, trade, and Taiwan

Mattis visits China as tensions mount over militarization, trade, and Taiwan

Conflicting signals from the Trump administration over proposed restrictions on foreign investment in US technology companies, along with news that recently imposed import tariffs are starting to disrupt supply chains, sent global stock markets tumbling on Monday.

Tensions over China's high-tech advance have been building for the past two years, due to Beijing's strategy of allowing Chinese companies to invest in USA and European technology firms, while restricting access to its own tech sector.

The Treasury investment restrictions are expected to target key sectors, including several China is trying to develop as part of its "Made in China 2025" industrial plan, the US official said.

He said markets have misunderstood the president's plans. People familiar with Mnuchin's thinking said that after he lost an internal battle on how to handle the trade dispute with Beijing, he's signaled his disagreement with the president's approach through silence.

Both China and the European Union are locked in trade disputes with the U.S., which has led the two sides to find common ground to counter Trump administration's growing trade protectionism.

The United States has long accused China of intellectual property theft, which it says has cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs.

As tensions continue to escalate, trade experts warn there are fewer options to resolve the dispute.

Mnuchin has been on the more moderate side of the debate, along with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who is recovering from a heart attack.

The U.S., as the world's largest economy, may be the initial victor under such a regime, but an escalating battle still poses risks of a slowdown.

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Instead, Tsang said Mattis is likely to shift the focus onto developments in North Korea and furthering "military cooperation" between China and the U.S.to reduce risk of incidents.

The decision of the government to take a direct hand in corporate investment decisions under the pretext of national security is "a radical departure from the way we have engaged in economic governance", Chorzempa said.

Under the Trump administration, Chinese-backed deals have come under more aggressive scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, an inter-agency panel chaired by the Treasury Department. The report is seen as part of the evidence the administration will use to justify the investment curbs on economic security grounds.

Ahead of Mattis' arrival, Chinese state media said a formation of Chinese warships has been holding daily combat drills for more than a week in waters near Taiwan, and there have been frequent Chinese air force exercises near the island.

The EU and China have called Trump's actions "totally unacceptable" and an "act of extreme pressure and blackmail" respectively, and retaliated with billions of dollars worth of tariffs of their own.

The IEEPA statute allows the president to unilaterally impose the investment limits.

But US authorities have also been looking into investment restrictions.

"In no way did they [Beijing] account for any type of reaction", said Max J. Zenglein, an economist at the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.

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