U.S. Says China Blocking Boeing Purchases Worth ‘Tens of Billions’

In this photo taken on April 1, 2021, a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 is seen at the airport in Koror following its flight transporting Taiwanese tourists, after Taiwan and Palau launched a rare holiday travel bubble to kickstart their battered tourist industries after successfully keeping Covid-19 infections at bay. (Photo …
RICHARD W. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese government is allegedly blocking domestic airlines from purchasing “tens of billions of dollars” in planes from Boeing, a U.S. multinational aerospace company, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters Tuesday.

“I don’t know if Boeing is here. … There’s tens of billions of dollars of planes that Chinese airlines want to buy but the Chinese government is standing in the way,” Raimondo said in Washington, DC, on September 28, as quoted by Reuters. She made the comments during a question-and-answer session with reporters following a speech outlining her department’s economic agenda.

The commerce secretary later clarified to National Public Radio (NPR), a U.S. public broadcaster, that she referred specifically to the purchase of airplanes manufactured by Boeing. She described the worth of the products in terms of “millions” of dollars and not “billions” as she did earlier that same day.

“Chinese airlines have purchases for tens of millions of dollars of Boeing airplanes and the Chinese government is holding that up,” Raimondo told NPR on September 28.

During her speech on Tuesday, the commerce secretary said Washington will work to counter China’s increased economic influence worldwide and address the Chinese government’s treatment of U.S. companies, which she criticized broadly. Raimondo said Beijing was not fulfilling its commitments to purchase U.S. goods as agreed to in a 2020 trade deal brokered by the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

“They are not respecting intellectual property [IP] and stealing IP of American companies. They’re putting up all kinds of different barriers for American companies to do business in China,” Raimondo told NPR.

Boeing relies heavily upon business from China, as the country accounts for 25 percent of the company’s total aircraft orders.

“We cannot afford to be locked out of that market,” Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said in March while urging the U.S. government to set aside political disputes with Beijing that have hindered trade relations between the world’s two largest economies.

“I am hoping we can sort of separate intellectual property, human rights, and other things from trade and continue to encourage a free trade environment between these two economic juggernauts,” Calhoun said at the time.

Boeing estimated last week that Chinese airlines will require 8,700 new airplanes through 2040. The aeronautics company estimated the worth of the aircraft at $1.47 trillion.

“Airfreight market has become a bright spot for Boeing in China as e-commerce demand booms,” Reuters observed on September 23.

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