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Dingell asks China not to push U.S. automakers to share electric vehicle technology

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Dingell asks China not to push U.S. automakers to share electric vehicle technology

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington -- Michigan's senior member of Congress wants China to drop plans to force U.S. automakers to share electric vehicle technology.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said in a letter today to the Chinese ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui, that they should drop plans "to require foreign automakers to hand over electric vehicle technology to their Chinese competitors in exchange for market access in China."

"I am outraged that the Chinese government is considering plans to force foreign automakers to give up proprietary electric vehicle technology to their Chinese competitors in order to be allowed access to China's market. This violates the sanctity of the intellectual property laws we hold so dear in the United States and amounts, in my estimation, to a violation of China's obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization," Dingell wrote, citing recent news reports.

China generally blocks U.S. companies from holding majority stakes in ventures, and requires them to get Chinese partners. The U.S. has no such requirements for Chinese companies to acquire U.S. firms.

Michigan lawmakers and others have been angry for years over what they call China's intervention to keep the value of its currency -- the renminbi -- low, which makes its exports cheaper in the United States. Many have openly called China's efforts "cheating" to steal Michigan jobs through a series of actions.

"In light of broad frustration among American workers, businesses, and my colleagues in Congress about China's trade and economic policies, I urge China to reconsider these plans and instead commit to meaningful cooperation with the United States to remedy existing problems in our countries' trade relations, not the least of which pertains to revaluation of the renminbi," Dingell wrote.

Earlier this month, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, applauded the United Steelworkers union filing a petition to crackdown on what she called China's unfair trade practices.

She said it "would require China to end policies that stimulate and protect their own domestic producers of clean-energy technology at the expense of American manufacturing and research and development investment, taking away jobs from hard working people across our country."

Stabenow said Chinese policies hurt Michigan workers.

"Michigan workers have been the most affected by these unfair trade policies, taking away jobs and investment from our state's manufacturing sector. China has done nothing but ignore the rules set forth by the WTO since joining 10 years ago. They manipulate their currency, they prevent American companies from competing for government business, and now they're cheating in trying to create a clean energy sector," she said.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner noted last week that China has allowed its currency to appreciate 1.5 percent over the last three months, but says it must do more.

He noted that China has pursued a "substantial set of protections and preferences for its domestic industries, and we are committed to finding ways to level the playing field. It is a simple principle of fairness that American firms that compete in China's markets should have the same rights enjoyed by Chinese companies."

Last week, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Geithner that Michigan businesses were worried about the fate of green jobs.

"The manager (of a large solar plant) essentially said that if steps aren't taken -- and this is a huge plant, new technology, was invented in this country -- that if steps aren't taken, in five years, they'll be out of business and all solar panels installed in the U.S. will come from China," Levin said. "This is no longer an academic issue, a theoretical issue."

Without action, Levin said, "the prediction will be true that in the coming years we will lose any chance to compete."

The Chinese Embassy in Washington didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100922/AUTO01/9220421/1148/auto01/Dingell-asks-China-not-to-push-U.S.-carmakers-to-share-electric-technology#ixzz10InzqZFZ

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