The Clinton administration will target Chinese textile and electronics manufacturers for trade sanctions to retaliate for Chinese piracy of American property, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
Talks in Beijing to give Chinese officials an opportunity to rebut the American allegations failed to persuade the administration to hold back, the official told the Associated Press.The Chinese are accused of more than $2 billion in piracy, mostly of music, compact discs and CD-ROM computer software.
The sanctions, to be announced Wednesday, involves imposing high tariffs on Chinese manufacturers, including clothing and electronics.
This could produce a benefit for American apparel manufacturers who have been hurt by cheap imported Chinese goods. And for President Clinton, trying to make headway in the textile-rich South in his re-election campaign, there could be a political dividend as well.
The action to be taken by the administration would permit appeals over 30 days before final sanctions are imposed, allowing a slim possibility for compromise.
"Quite a bit of piracy continues," one official said. "We think the Chinese understand their obligations and can deal with it."
But, the official said, "The United States plans tomorrow a target list of sanctions with a substantial dollar amount."
Earlier, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the United States will "remain available for continuing dialogue with China."
Last week, Secretary of State Warren Christopher declined to impose credit sanctions against China in the sale of nuclear technology to Pakistan. He said senior Chinese officials were not aware of the deal. Also, China promised to tighten export controls to facilities not under international nuclear inspection.
In Beijing, foreign minister spokesman Cui Tiankai was pessimistic about the outcome of the talks. "The consultations have not yielded any positive progress so far," he said.
The two disputes contributed to a souring of U.S. relations with Beijing, although the Clinton administration has tried to maintain good ties with China, the world's most populous nation and a growing economic power.
Clothing is one of China's most lucrative industries. While American manufacturers would benefit from higher import duties, American clothing retailers could be hurt.
Under threat of sanctions, China signed a trade accord banning software piracy in March 1995. Overall, China exports more than $40 billion in goods to the United States.