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Donald Trump to order investigation into Chinese trade practices
12 August 2017, 11:19 | Devin Moran
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Trump's latest move does not mean any immediate sanctions on China as is being reported by some media outlets, but might lead to one at the end of the investigation which could take as long as a year.
President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order directing the US Trade Representative to investigate into China's "unfair" trade practices that harm American businesses and have an impact on its intellectual properties, a senior official said today.
The trade investigation could strain relations between the US and China as the two countries wrestle with the unpredictable situation over North Korea.
In a phone call earlier this weekend, Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping "agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour", according to a White House statement released after the phone call.
Trump has been trying for months to get China to exert more pressure on North Korea, but has recently expressed frustration with the lack of progress.
"The [U.S. -China] relationship could spiral out of control, particularly if the movement on the trade front is combined with growing tensions over how to respond to North Korea", said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of global law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.
"China is widely recognised as the biggest source of the problem", he said.
President Trump has previously chastised China for not doing enough about the hermit nation, however, an administration official said the move Monday is unrelated to North Korea.
Trump, who has been residing at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for the past week, plans to return to Washington on Monday to officially announce the trade investigation.
"President Trump is committed to protect America's intellectual property and national security", the official said. They said that USA companies had long suffered because of Chinese intellectual property violations, and that they expected Congress and the business community to support the measure.
Trump will instruct his chief trade adviser on Monday to investigate allegations that China violated US intellectual property rights and forced companies to share their technology in order to do business there, Politico reported.
"If Americans continue to have their best technology and intellectual property stolen, or forcibly transferred offshore, the United States will find it hard to maintain its current technology leadership position and to remain one of the world's most innovative economies".
"Americans are among the most innovative", said one official.
Politico said it was not clear how much detail Trump would provide in his announcement, but that administration officials expected U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a section 301 probe. "China's forced technology transfer is highly institutionalised", the official said. That statement didn't mention the executive action, but said the leaders discussed North Korea policy and Trump's visit to China later this year. "This is simply business between two countries", said a U.S. senior administration official in the teleconference.
When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China's Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S. "And I think China will do a lot more".
The Chinese policies of an American company to enter into a join venture with a Chinese company to do business is "not fair", the official said.
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