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China paper says U.S.'s forced tech transfer claims are 'fabricated'

SHANGHAI, May 18 (Reuters) - The United States has "fabricated" accusations that China forces firms to hand over technology in exchange for market access, China's top Communist Party newspaper said on Saturday, the latest salvo in a bitter trade war.

China announced this week it would retaliate against a move by Washington to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports amid complaints Beijing had done little to resolve U.S. concerns about the theft of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology to Chinese firms.

The People's Daily said in an editorial China had never forced U.S. firms to hand over technology and the claim was "an old-fashioned argument used by some people in the United States to suppress China's development".

"The U.S. argument about the 'forced transfer of technology' can be described as being fabricated from thin air," it said. The United States had not yet been able to provide any evidence to back up the claims, the editorial said.

It said the United States benefited substantially from voluntary technological cooperation, earning $7.96 billion in intellectual property use fees in 2016 alone. Washington's "fragile nerves" were caused by China's own rapidly growing research and development capabilities, the paper said.

The increasingly acrimonious dispute between the world's top two economies has rattled investors and roiled global markets. The United States said negotiations were likely to resume soon but China said no fixed date had been set yet and Washington needed to show sincerity in any new round of talks. (Reporting by David Stanway Editing by Paul Tait)