China Moving to Target US Companies

Tactic could be used to leverage business leaders to pressure U.S. government


Fan Yu, Commentary, The Epoch Times

June 9, 2019


Ford Motor Co.’s joint venture in China was fined by Beijing for antitrust violations, in what appears to be heightened scrutiny into and retaliation against U.S. companies by Chinese authorities.


The fine levied against the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker is the latest in a string of punitive actions towards American companies in an increasingly tense trade standoff between the United States and China.


Beijing’s motives could be two-fold. One is to retaliate against the Trump administration’s sanctions on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. The other goal is to put pressure on U.S. companies operating in China to appeal to the Trump administration for reducing or dropping ongoing tariffs against Chinese imports.


Fines and Investigations


Chang’an Ford Automobile Co. was fined 162.8 million yuan, or approximately $23 million, by authorities for allegedly restricting retail sale prices since 2013. The fine was disclosed by the State Administration for Market Regulation’s website.


Chang’an is a joint venture between Ford and Chongqing Chang’an Automobile. Its sales have slipped since late 2017 as the Chinese auto market is in the midst of a slowdown.


While the penalty levied was small, it does signal a new way Beijing may be retaliating against the United States amidst the trade war.


The decision to fine Ford came mere days after Beijing authorities said they would investigate U.S. logistics giant FedEx Corp. for “wrongful delivery of packages,” according to Chinese state media. FedEx had come under fire after Huawei alleged that the courier had diverted several packages destined for the company’s Asia offices.


Two FedEx packages sent to Huawei offices were diverted to the United States, according to a Reuters report. FedEx had since said they were “misrouted in error.”


Chinese Communist Party officials in early June signaled that Beijing would draw up a list of “unreliable entities” to include firms that it concludes are untrustworthy and may harm its interests. With regards to FedEx, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it was a warning against U.S. companies while state media Xinhua specifically used two very telling hashtags of #ChinaUSTrade and #RetaliateAgainstUSTradeBullying in its related reports on social media platform Weibo.


Three Likely Strategies by Beijing ...