President Trump to launch investigation into China trade violations

Patrice Gainsbourg
Agosto 14, 2017

President Trump has previously chastised China for not doing enough about the hermit nation, however, an administration official said the move Monday is unrelated to North Korea.

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

Trump will direct US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether any Chinese laws, policies or practices discriminate against or harm American innovators and technology companies, the officials said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shake hands prior to a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017. A White House communications staffer declined to confirm or deny the report on Saturday, instead pointing to a statement released by the White House on Friday describing the phone call.

If the investigation finds that China is harming USA companies, the Trump administration could respond by imposing tariffs, negotiating an agreement with China or other measures, the officials said.

Trump, now on a 17-day working summer vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, is returning to the White House for a day on Monday to sign this executive order directing the US Trade Representative to probe the matter.

China has consistently sought the resumption of the "six-party talks" (alongside Russia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and the US), which collapsed in 2009 but could trumpet Beijing's role as a mediator. Lighthizer can do so under Section 302 (b) of the Trade Act of 1974, which outlines the process by which USTR can initiate an investigation "by means other than petition", a senior official told reporters on August 12.

And then on Thursday, when speaking with reporters, Trump said in relation to North Korea, "if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade".

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The move comes amid growing tension over the threat of North Korea using nuclear weapons, and a week after the USA received China's help in the United Nations Security Council to impose tougher economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

"If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so".

The US officials said "Chinese commercial policy has a major goal, the acquisition and the absorption of the intellectual property of the United States and other countries around the world". Trump's latest move does not mean any immediate sanctions on China as is being reported by some media outlets, but might lead to one at the end of the investigation which could take as long as a year.

"An important question going forward will be whether USA companies and trade associations who have highlighted the problem will actually come forward and assist our government in the investigation" - Michael Wessel, member of the U.S.

"If the investigation is instituted, we will consult with China, we will give interested parities opportunities to comment". "Trade is trade. National security is national security".

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.

Depending on the results, the United States could either seek remedies through the World Trade Organization or outside of it. In this estimation, Washington is merely using North Korea to mount a military containment strategy around China, she said. -China trading relationship. But analysts have cautioned that Trump faces a huge challenge in his desire to significantly reduce the USA trade deficit with China, which past year stood at more than $300 billion.

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