Gina Raimondo. Picture: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE
Gina Raimondo. Picture: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE

Washington — President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the US commerce department will pledge to take “aggressive” action in response to trade practices from China.

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo will tell the US Senate commerce committee the US must “take aggressive trade enforcement actions to combat unfair trade practices from China and other nations that undercut American manufacturing”, according to a copy of her written testimony.

The commerce department under former president Donald Trump took aim at China on numerous fronts, adding dozens of Chinese companies to a trade blacklist, including telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies, the country’s top chipmaker SMIC, and drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology.

If confirmed, Raimondo will inherit the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to bar US app stores from offering Chinese-owned TikTok or WeChat for download.

Three US judges blocked commerce department orders issued under Trump that sought to bar new downloads of the two apps and impose restrictions on WeChat and TikTok that would effectively bar their use in the US. Those rulings are now on appeal before US circuit courts.

Under pressure from the US government, ByteDance has been in talks for months to finalise a deal with Walmart and Oracle to shift TikTok’s US assets into a new entity to address US security concerns.

At a press briefing on Monday, Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki did not answer when asked about the status of the existing executive order that aims to require ByteDance to divest Tiktok’s US assets but said she would follow up.

“We need to play a better defence, which must include holding China accountable,” Psaki added.

The commerce department and its bureaus have about 46,000 employees, which also includes the US census bureau, national oceanic and atmospheric administration, national weather service and the foreign commercial service. It also helps negotiate trade agreements, and enforces laws on trade and national security. 


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