Amid China talks, Trump touts new investment security powers

US President Donald Trump has described the 2015 Iran agreement as a 'horrible one-sided deal'

President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed recent reforms toughening Washington's powers to prevent foreign investments that could threaten national security or allow the theft of American technology.

Trump's remarks on the legislation, which was enacted earlier this month and does not target specific countries, coincided with a visit by trade negotiators from China -- a country he accuses of rampant industrial espionage and forced transfers of intellectual property.

"I think not enough focus has been put on China and that's been for a long time," Trump told reporters at the White House.

The accusations are at the center of a trade war between Washington and Beijing, which Trump launched earlier this year, and which escalated Thursday with each country hitting another $16 billion in goods with steep new tariffs.

"This weakens our economy when they steal, destroys our jobs and threatens the security of our country," Trump said.

"We now have a right to stop it. They won't be stealing our companies anymore, especially companies that are quite complex."

The reforms adopted this month as part of a defense spending bill updated 30-year-old statutes giving the president broad powers to block foreign investments in sensitive industries or those deemed harmful to US national security.

- Expanded powers -

Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday that the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act was not aimed at any one country -- but reiterated calls on China to end what Washington describes as predatory trade practices.

Passed with broad bipartisan support among lawmakers, the legislation expands the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), allowing it to cover both land concessions and real estate purchases as well as minority investments in companies that could allow technology and sensitive private data to be transferred outside the United States.

Prior to the changes, "if someone bought a vacant piece of land and later put a business on it, we couldn't review that," one official said.

Washington accuses Beijing of founding its aspirations for global industrial dominance on unfair state intervention in markets, state-sponsored corporate acquisitions, forcing foreign companies to divulge commercial secrets and hacking.

Officials from the US Treasury and Trade Representative's office were holding a second day of talks Thursday with their Chinese counterparts to resolve the impasse which has seen tariffs slapped on $100 billion in goods exchanged in both directions.