Both chambers of the U.S. Congress recessed last week after passing a Continuing Resolution to fund the U.S. Government until April. The 114th Congress stands adjourned for the year. The 115th Congress will convene on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.
China – Trump’s Call with Taiwan. In an interview that aired on Sunday, President-Elect Donald Trump said of his brief call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen: “I fully understand the One China policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy.” He added, “Why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call? I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it.” President-Elect Trump also said: “I don’t want China dictating to me.”
China – WTO Anniversary. China marked 15 years since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Sunday, 11 December. Despite the terms of its accession agreement, the Obama Administration indicated last week that it plans to continue using non-market economy methodology to calculate anti-dumping duties on Chinese goods. Outgoing House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Michigan) said he supported the Obama Administration’s position, saying: “If [China wants] to file a case, so be it.” He added: “But it will only expose to the world how China is rigging the economy, in so many respects. They’re not a market economy, for example, in terms of how they treat their workers.”
Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said to reporters last month: “Nothing in the WTO protocol requires the WTO members [to] automatically grant market economy status to China or discontinue use of alternative anti-dumping methodologies on December 11, 2016.”
President-Elect Trump said at an Iowa rally on 8 December: “China is not a market economy.” He also recently announced Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as his nominee to serve the next U.S. Ambassador to China.
Trafficking in Persons Report – New Bill Introduced. On 8 December, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) introduced The Trafficking in Persons Report Integrity Act (TIPRIA), a bill designed to comprehensively reform the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. The report process received congressional scrutiny after the 2015 TIP Report rankings after allegations that they were influenced by political pressures that some believe gave a more favorable status to certain countries despite failures to meet minimum legal standards prescribed by Congress. With the conclusion of the 114th Congress, this measure will have to be reintroduced in the 115th Congress.