Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Trump to call for China IT trade probe on Monday

Trump to call for China IT trade probe on Monday

In a phone call Friday, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for backing the recent United Nations vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, and the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

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.

The title of the so-called "301 investigation" that Trump is expected to call for Lighthizer to consider, refers to Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the president to work to remove or retaliate against a practice by a foreign government that is "unjustifiable and burdens or restricts United States commerce".

Apple, which has a turnover of more than $30 billion a year in China, is now subject to several measures taken by Beijing that hinder its activities in the country.

The officials would not confirm reports that the trade action Trump plans to initiate on Monday had been delayed more than a week, until the administration secured China's support last week to win a unanimous vote in the U.N. Security Council for imposing new sanctions on North Korea.

Trump has said he would be more amenable to going easy on Beijing if it were more aggressive in reining in North Korea.

After the telephones talks on Saturday, the White House said in a statement that the two leaders discussed the increasingly unsafe situation associated with North Korea's destabilizing and escalatory behavior.

Xi urged President Trump to exercise restraint over tensions with North Korea during a phone call, Chinese state media reported. This past week, Trump said he could soften his views on trade if China stepped up its assistance, leading to speculation that the investigation could be a negotiating tactic.

"It will just lead other countries to retaliate against us or perhaps even worse, imitate us, and take action on their own without regard to worldwide obligations", he said.

Trump also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, it added.

An administration official, however, insisted diplomacy over North Korea and the potential trade probe were "totally unrelated", saying the trade action was not a pressure tactic.

Trump, in the past, has tied trade policy to national security. China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.

When asked about the delay, the dministration officials did not address the question directly. "President Trump is committed to protect America's intellectual property and national security", the official said. "This is why the President has chosen to act now and to act boldly", one administration official said.

"We will no longer allow this to continue". "Those activities haven't abated; they've accelerated as China seeks to become self-sufficient in new technologies and dominate world markets", he said.

"This is simply not fair", said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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