China offering major concessions on tech issues in trade talks: report

The Chinese government has made proposals in trade talks with the U.S. to curb technology transfer practices that are being targeted by the Trump administration, Reuters reported Wednesday.

U.S. officials reportedly told Reuters on Wednesday that China has offered to impose stricter safeguards to prevent foreign companies from being forced to transfer technologies to Chinese firms as a condition of doing business in the country. Reuters described the offers as "unprecedented."

“If you looked at the texts a month ago compared to today, we have moved forward in all areas. We aren’t yet where we want to be,” a U.S. official told Reuters.

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“They’re talking about forced technology transfer in a way that they’ve never wanted to talk about before - both in terms of scope and specifics.”

The news comes as Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Democrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle No agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE are set to travel to China this weekend to continue negotiations over a trade deal with their Chinese counterparts.

The reported progress on provisions to limit forced technology transfers could help bring U.S. and Chinese officials closer to a trade deal after more than a year of talks and retaliatory tariffs.

China often requires U.S. firms operating there to transfer valuable technology to Chinese firms, many of which have ties to the government. U.S. officials and businesses say this practice can lead to intellectual property theft from American firms and even hinder national security.

Lighthizer said in a Monday interview with NPR that the administration wants to prevent China from forcing U.S. firms to transfer technology, but added that "there may be a business situation where it makes sense to do something like that."

"If you're forced to do it, it's inappropriate," Lighthizer said. "If you're cajoled into it, it's still bad. But I'm not saying in all cases you shouldn't be able to enter into a business arrangement."

The Trump administration is also asking China to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, halt alleged intellectual property theft from U.S. firms and remove other non-tariff trade barriers.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE has imposed tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods to boost U.S. leverage in trade talks and ramp up pressure on the slowing Chinese economy.

China is asking Trump to remove all tariffs on Chinese goods, which the president ruled out last week.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that he will keep import taxes on billions in Chinese goods to make sure China complies with a potential agreement to reduce trade barriers.

“We’re not talking about removing them,” Trump said. “We’re talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal."

“They’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals and we have to make sure,” Trump continued.