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Trump May Roll Out Probe Into China and Intellectual Property Theft

14 August 2017

President Donald Trump will start the beginning steps Monday of a long awaited crackdown on Chinese intellectual property practices, administration officials told reporters Saturday.

In a background briefing with reporters on Saturday, White House officials pointed to frustration from USA businesses that they have to share intellectual property with China as a condition for doing business in the country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping moved to calm nerves on Friday, telling the USA president during a phone call that all sides should maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.

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. "The administration has been unable to make progress on these issues in dialogues with China, including as part of the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue", Wyden said previously. "Trade is trade. National security is national security".

The call came after Mr. Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the US military "locked and loaded" and warning North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he "will regret it fast" if he takes any action against USA territories or allies. "They should not be forced to turn over the fruits of their labor".

The measure would seek to address what the USA 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 US companies to part with valuable product designs and trade secrets - or to steal them outright.

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"A government official confirmed to Politico that Trump was going to instruct US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open the investigation under Section 301 of the 1974 US Trade Act".

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

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.

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.

"China has no real effective leverage to de-escalate the situation if both Trump and North Korea's Kim (Jong-un) are reckless", said Xu Guoqi, a foreign relations expert at the University of Hong Kong.

The administration has been eyeing other moves to rebalance the U.S.

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Trump planned to launch the trade investigation more than a week ago, but he delayed the move in favor of securing China's support for expanded United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the senior administration official said.

Still, Trump's actions stop short of what some analysts had been expecting him to do on intellectual property.

But China, which accounts for 90 per cent of the North's trade, has said it would not cut off humanitarian aid to the country's poverty-stricken population.

"China also funds and facilitates the acquisition of U.S. firms that possess advanced technologies", the officials said.

President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order to probe China's "unfair" trade practices that harm American businesses and have an impact on its intellectual properties, a senior official said on Sunday.

Politico said the trade probe would not mean immediate sanctions, but could ultimately lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods.

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There are "a wide variety of potential responses". -China Economic and Security Review Commission, a watchdog group established by Congress.

Trump May Roll Out Probe Into China and Intellectual Property Theft