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Foxconn chief: US-China dispute over tech, not trade

AP Business Writer

SHENZHEN, China (AP) — The CEO of Taiwan’s Foxconn, which assembles Apple iPhones and other products for tech companies, said on Wednesday that Washington’s dispute with China is about technology rather than trade.

Terry Gou’s comments came at an event celebrating the anniversary of Foxconn’s first investment in mainland China. The event took place in the shadow of Chinese leaders’ threats to scrap trade deals with Washington if President Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese technology products goes ahead.

“This is not a trade conflict but rather a competition and comparison of technology,” said Gou in a video shown at the event.

Foxconn Technology Group, also known as Hon Hai President Industry Co., is the world’s biggest contract manufacturer of smartphones, computers and other technology products and is trying to develop its own brands.

Gou said he plans to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for the end of June for the $10 billion factory that Foxconn is building in Mount Pleasant. But he and other executives said nothing else about the company’s plans either in Wisconsin or other places outside China.

The White House renewed its threat last week to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese technology-related goods in response to complaints that Beijing steals technology or pressures foreign companies to hand it over. The White House is expected on June 15 to release a list of products that could be subject to tariffs.

The Chinese government warned on Sunday that if Trump followed through on his threat, it would scrap deals calling for it to buy more American soybeans and other goods to narrow its trade surplus with the United States.

In the video, Gou said the “U.S. is significantly ahead of China” in the production of jet engines and semiconductors.

“If China is to catch up, allow me to speak frankly, it must be in the areas of manufacturing technology, design and manufacturing technology,” he said. “They are the real economy.”

Foxconn is trying to move beyond its roots as a low-cost assembler of products and become an advanced manufacturer and bigger player in the world economy.

The company says its Wisconsin factory will make liquid-crystal-display panels for use in computers, TVs and self-driving cars.

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