WASHINGTON – China plans to give foreign companies greater access to its economy and is drafting a replacement of its plan to dominate advanced technologies by 2025, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing sources briefed on the strategy.
Beijing’s changes might be seen by some as a response to pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, who launched a tit-for-tat tariff dispute with China this year aimed at balancing trade and giving American firms increased access to the world’s second-largest economy. The program that Chinese officials call “Made in China 2025” has been one of the main targets in Trump’s trade war.
Stocks rallied globally on the improved outlook for U.S.-China trade, with U.S. equities extending gains after the WSJ story.
A less aggressive technology plan could address concerns raised by the Trump administration that Beijing unfairly subsidizes Chinese companies and steals American intellectual property. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been tasked with negotiating a deal focused on technology issues by March 1.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has taken steps this week to soothe the U.S., including a plan to cut tariffs on U.S. cars to 15 percent from 40 percent. China also intends to resume purchases of American soybeans soon, according to Chinese government officials. China said last week it would deepen reforms in the area of science and technology and put more effort into protecting intellectual-property rights.
But U.S. officials have been skeptical about China’s willingness to back down from its global technology ambitions. While China has been playing down “Made in China 2025” since tensions flared, it has been pushing ahead undaunted with its state-driven industrial policies, Lighthizer’s office said in a report last month.
China launched the plan in 2015, with the goal of becoming an advanced manufacturing leader within a decade. The initiative aims to develop local expertise in research and development and reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign technology. It targets 10 emerging sectors, including robotics, clean-energy vehicles and biotechnology.
China’s top planning agency and senior policy advisers are drafting a replacement to the “Made in China 2025” blueprint, with plans to roll out the new policy early next year, the WSJ reported.
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