Trump White House to look into China's trade practices

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In a report to lawmakers released in July, the USTR accused China of engaging in "widespread infringing activity, including trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting, and high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit exports to markets around the globe".

Trump is planning to sign an executive action asking the U.S. Trade Representative to consider investigating China for the theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property.

Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday night of the upcoming memorandum, a senior administration official told CNN Friday. If USTR moves forward, the investigation could take as long as a year.

The U.S. could file a trade complaint on IP with the WTO or take action outside the WTO process, one administration official said.

Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

The announcement expected Monday comes amid sharply escalating tensions, with Trump warning that US military options are "locked and loaded" if North Korean President Kim Jong-Un acts unwisely.

Mr Trump's threat to investigate China's IP 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, USA business lobbyists said.

Trump has previously expressed frustration that China hasn't done more to economically punish North Korea.

"I don't think we're heading toward a period of greater conflict (with China)", said one White House official. Pyongyang this week threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam during an exchange of bellicose rhetoric with Trump.

An official continued on to say that there is more than $600 billion of intellectual property theft against US companies with China responsible for a huge portion of that. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of worldwide law and would not trigger greater conflict with China. "The results are there for all to see".

Trump is expected to be in Washington on Monday, breaking into what he's termed a working vacation at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club.

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. "They know how I feel", he told reporters on Thursday.

Despite Trump's previous comments, officials at the briefing repeatedly rebuffed any attempt by reporters to connect the possible investigation to the North Korea situation. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said at the time that she wanted to "personally thank" the Chinese delegation. "Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet. they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk". But trade and national security experts widely noted that the trade announcement appeared to have been delayed until after China joined the United States in voting for sanction against North Korea at a United Nations Security Council session on August 5.

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