Trump orders probe of China's intellectual property rules

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Trump has escalated his harsh criticism of North Korea for days, tweeting Friday that the US had military options "locked and loaded".

United States President Donald Trump will sign an executive memorandum on Monday authorizing the US trade representative to determine whether to investigate China's intellectual property and trade or not.

Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday night of the upcoming memorandum, a senior administration official told CNN Friday.

Any investigation could take as long as a year once it is formally launched, and will likely include a public comment period and a hearing, the official said.

Michael Froman, former USTR under the Obama administration, has also warned that the United State could face retaliation if the country moves away from resolving trade disputes through the WTO and instead starts taking unilateral actions.

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.

If Trump announces the investigation, it would come at a time Trump and members of his administration have called on China to do more to rein in North Korea amid recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

Politico said it was not clear how much detail Trump would provide in his announcement, but that administration officials expected U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a section 301 probe.

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Officials rebutted suggestions the move was meant to pressure China to do more to rein in North Korea, its main trading partner.

The trade investigation could strain relations between the US and China as the two countries wrestle with the unpredictable situation over North Korea. Trump has responded in bellicose terms over the progress of North Korea's nuclear missile program and threats to launch an attack on the US territory of Guam, where the USA has a military installation.

Trump's threat to investigate China's intellectual property 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, US business lobbyists said last week. The administration could also decide to use the information gathered in a Section 301 probe to file a case against China at the World Trade Organization, rather than acting unilaterally, the official added.

"President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior", the statement said. "The results are there for all to see".

U.S. President Donald Trump walks to board Marine One departing for vacation in Bedminster, New Jersey, from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington D.C., the United States on August 4, 2017.

Trump fueled the impression that how hard he pressures Beijing on trade depends on its cooperation on the North Korea question.
"They know how I feel", he told reporters on Thursday.

But, the official added: "I don't think we're headed toward a period of greater conflict".

The forced sharing of intellectual property with Chinese firms has been a long-standing concern of the USA business community. -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 previous year stood at more than $300 billion.

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