The Political Economy of Technology Transfer Rules of the US-China Phase One Trade Agreement: Competition of Global Technology Leadership


  • George Tian



Over the past four decades, Intellectual Property (IP) has been one of the main controversies of US-China trade relations. But the current US-China trade war contains a new focus – technology transfer. This article adopts a socio-legal and economic approach to examine the current technology and trade tensions between these two countries and why China became an Information Technology (IT) powerhouse. It first provides an overview of IP and technology transfer rules under the Phase One US-China Economic and Trade Agreement (POA). It then explores different forms of forced technology transfer activities and the in-depth reasons for the US to shift its main IP concerns from IP enforcement to technology transfer. It explains why the US and China trade war is inevitable, why the current US-China IP-trade war is significantly different from previous ones, and the economic and political reasons behind the global technology leadership competition by the two countries. Finally, the author concludes that the POA and its technology transfer rules are not the ends of the game but just the start of the global technology leadership competition between the US and China.