The Wall Street Journal: White House plans to maintain hard-line stance to push China trade concessions

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WASHINGTON — The Trump White House, confident that its hard-line strategy is succeeding, is planning to ratchet up the pressure on China by focusing on new tariffs and threatening to block Chinese technology investment in the U.S., according to officials familiar with the strategy.

The additional moves come as President Donald Trump has told his senior aides to investigate the possibility of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a move that would reverse a Trump campaign promise and would further challenge China.

For its part, China is looking to line up other countries against the U.S., Chinese officials said — especially in Europe, whose firms could benefit should China react to the stepped up pressure by retaliating against the U.S. Beijing has already responded to early volleys from Washington in the trade conflict with retaliatory tariffs of its own.

Administration officials familiar with the U.S. strategy say that the U.S. Trade Representative, as early as next week, will detail which products are on the list of $100 billion in Chinese goods subject to 25% import tariffs. The initial hit list of $50 billion in Chinese imports didn’t include some consumer staples such as clothing, mobile phones or shoes, to minimize consumer impact and limit domestic criticism. But trade experts say the sheer size of the expansion of the hit list makes the inclusion of consumer goods inevitable. At the same time, the Treasury Department is crafting sharp prohibitions on Chinese investment in advanced U.S. technology, whether by acquisition, joint ventures, licensing or any other arrangement, according to a senior administration official.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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