Advocates warn of China takeovers and transfer of technology

Advocates worried about the integrity of American agriculture and livestock production are warning the Chinese are in a position to acquire deep know-how and technology through company takeovers.

And one is citing the example of Smithfield Foods, acquired by Chinese conglomerate the WH Group, more than five years ago.

Curtis Ellis, a senior policy adviser with conservative think tank America First, argues that China, through its state-supported megacompanies, is trying to carve out monopolies on a global scale.

Ellis, a strong supporter of President Donald Trump's stance on trade with China, told the North Carolina Business Daily that one of the key planks of the administration's policy is to protect American farmers and markets.

The two countries are still inching towards a deal that would end the trade and tariff tit-for-tat ongoing since last July.

Representatives of the two trading giants announced earlier this month they agreed on one major obstacle to an accord, setting up enforcement offices. The Chinese, which opposed a unilateral enforcement office, appear to have won the right for any enforcement mechanism to be reciprocal.

"We’ve pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism; we’ve agreed that both sides will establish enforcement offices that will deal with the ongoing matters,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC.

Technology transfer, along with China's alleged flaunting of currency rules, are two of the most important issues in the nine-month trade war that has hit farmers and businesses.

"We have to ask - are we sheltering the Chinese government in the midst of our heartland," Ellis said.

He cited Smithfield as an example, arguing the biggest issue was not China acquiring pig farming and processing, or ham packaging, but the Chinese government, through the WH Group, gaining access to the technology driving a modem agricultural operation, from growth to market.

The company, and, Ellis argues, therefore the state, also has access to the United States Department of Agriculture requirements, allowing all Chinese pork producers the technology and know-how to replicate the process.

Ellis said it was naive to think that China, when it joined the World Trade Organization at the turn of the century, would develop a free market, become an ally or introduce democracy.

The country remains dominated by authoritarian, state-owned enterprises, Ellis said.

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