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13 August 2017, 04:58 | Regina Holmes
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U.S. President Donald Trump will call on Monday for his chief trade adviser to investigate China's intellectual property practices, website Politico reported, citing an unnamed administration official.
Trump's threat to investigate China's intellectual property and trade practices is valid, but his administration may not be up to the delicate task of carrying out a new China probe without sparking a damaging trade war, US business lobbyists said last week.
If Trump announces the investigation, it would come at a time Trump and members of his administration have called on China to do more to rein in North Korea amid recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone on Friday night.
Trump, who is on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, said Friday that he planned to be in Washington on Monday "for a very important meeting'" and "we're going to have a pretty big press conference". Many U.S. businesses must create joint ventures with Chinese companies and turn over valuable technology assets, a practice that Washington says stifles U.S. economic growth.
When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China's Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S.
The decision will not only take action against alleged Chinese violations of US companies' intellectual property rights, but could also be perceived as an attempt by the USA government to crank up the pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea.
The administration has been eyeing other moves to rebalance the U.S.
"I think China can do a lot more", Trump told reporters Thursday.
In addition to the United States, the European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about Chinese theft of intellectual property.
Such thefts not only damage American companies, but also pose a threat to the U.S. national security, the second official said.
The executive memorandum will also target trade-secret theft, which costs the USA economy as much as $600 billion a year, the second administration official said.
Trump will direct US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine if an investigation is warranted of "any of China's laws, policies, practices or actions that may be unreasonable or discriminatory, and that may be harming American intellectual property, innovation and technology", the official said.
The Section 301, which was passed in 1974 and heavily used in 1980s and early 1990s, would allow the USA president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions against foreign countries.
Administration officials emphasized Saturday that they are a long way from deciding what, if any, action to take if a Section 301 is launched and finds that China has engaged in unfair trade practices. However, the USA pledged in the mid-1990s to settle disputes through the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system rather than by taking unilateral action. "There could be tariffs, there could be some sort of negotiated settlement, there could be a number of other things that are out there - and, obviously, we haven't made any decision on that at this point", a third administration official said. -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation". But they may not know that China is forcing and coercing American companies that operate in China to turn over their technology.
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