Sun, Aug 13, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Trump to call for China trade investigation: official

INCAPABLE?While the probe of Beijing’s intellectual property and trade practices is valid, the administration might be unable to carry it out without starting a trade war

Reuters, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump is tomorrow to call for his chief trade adviser to investigate China’s intellectual property practices, Web site Politico reported, citing an unnamed administration official.

Trump had been expected to order a so-called Section 301 investigation under the Trade Act of 1974 earlier this month, but action had been postponed as the White House pressed for China’s cooperation in reining in North Korea’s nuclear program.

It was not clear how much detail Trump would provide in his announcement, Politico said, but added that administration officials expected US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a probe.

Officials at the White House and Lighthizer’s office were not immediately available for comment.

Trump has suggested that he would go easier on China if it were more forceful in getting North Korea to rein in its nuclear weapons program.

Although Beijing joined in a unanimous UN Security Council decision to tighten economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its long-range missile tests, it is not clear whether Trump thinks Beijing is doing enough.

“We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China. They know how I feel,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “If China helps us, I feel a lot different toward trade.”

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) spoke by telephone on Friday night, reiterating their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, the White House said in a statement.

Trump is to make a day trip to Washington tomorrow, briefly interrupting his 17-day working vacation, a White House official said on Friday.

The investigation would not mean immediate sanctions, but could ultimately lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods, Politico said.

In addition to the US, the EU, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China’s behavior on intellectual property theft. The technology sector has been especially hard hit by such disputes.

Trump’s threat to investigate China’s intellectual property and trade practices is valid, but his administration might 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.

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