The Trump administration has been involved in a protracted and costly trade war with China. Among the casualties have been telecommunications companies such as Huawei and ZTE, both of whom have found themselves on U.S. blacklists.
Now, according to a report in The Washington Post, the administration is considering blacklisting Chinese companies that repeatedly steal intellectual property. Companies that repeatedly violate U.S. patent and copyright laws could be placed on the Commerce Department’s “entity list,” meaning they would not be able to do business within the U.S. without a special license. This extreme measure is usually reserved for companies that pose a military or terrorist threat.
Peter Navarro, the Trump advisor reportedly investigating what recourse the administration has, has long been a proponent of cracking down on Chinese companies. With the administration repeatedly making the case that economic security makes up a significant part of national security as a whole, it seems likely it is moving forward despite repeated claims to the contrary.
While few argue that something needs to be done to address intellectual property theft by Chinese companies, not everyone is happy with this possible solution. Mark Cohen, director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology told The Washington Post: “Everybody wants to put companies on the entity list now. This is Pandora’s box. In my opinion, this is hopelessly stupid. When did Peter Navarro become a federal judge?”
Should the entity list be used as the latest weapon in the trade war, it will be interesting to see if it has the desired effect, or backfires and costs consumers even more.