Trump to request possible probe of China trade practices

Trump to request possible probe of China trade practices

Trump to request possible probe of China trade practices

Trump suggested that if China helped rein in North Korea, which is reliant on Beijing's economic and security aid, he could lighten up on his attacks on Chinese trade practices, which were a mainstay of his election campaign.

The officials said that matter, and the trade issue, are not linked.

Officials at the White House and the US Trade Representative's Office were not immediately available for comment. Even now, the extra step of determining whether to start the investigation is less than trade hawks might have wanted, but softens the blow to China and gives Trump a cudgel to hold over it if he does not get the cooperation he wants.

The measure would seek to address what the US business community has described as flagrant trade violations by China, which employs a variety of rules and practices to wall its market off from foreign competition and pressure USA companies to part with valuable product designs and trade secrets - or to steal them outright.

United States officials will particularly examine the role of joint ventures, the mixed foreign-and-Chinese companies whose establishment is required for any outside business wishing to sell its products in China.

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An administration official, however, insisted diplomacy over North Korea and the potential trade probe were "totally unrelated", saying the trade action was not a pressure tactic.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, bluntly accused China of "stealing our intellectual property" - long a concern of Western companies seeking a share of the enormous Chinese market.

"The 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 know how I feel.

They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of global law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.

Trump has escalated his harsh criticism of North Korea for days, tweeting Friday that the USA had military options "locked and loaded". They reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the White House said in a statement. Xi, in his phone conversation with Trump, urged calm. -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation". In April, he said he wouldn't label China a currency manipulator, in return for help in dealing with North Korea.

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As the world's largest developed country and the largest developing country, the United States and China also need to negotiate a new trade deal, covering issues including the steel and aluminum industries, investment, state-owned enterprises and intellectual property rights, according to Bown. This past week, Trump said he could soften his views on trade if China stepped up its assistance, leading to speculation that the investigation could be a negotiating tactic.

Trump, however, also informed Xi about the pending probe into China's trade practices, according to two U.S. officials with knowledge of the conversation.

Trump will direct U.S. 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.

At the end of March, Trump asked the Commerce Department to prepare a report on the causes of the trade deficit, country by country and product by product, in 90 days.

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