Trump asks trade official to look at possible Chinese trade investigation

World Today

President Donald Trump holds up a signed memorandum calling for a trade investigation of China, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

U.S. President Donald Trump is taking action on what he calls “unfair trade” practices by China. Trump is asking Washington’s top trade official to look into whether China’s intellectual property practices should be investigated, and Beijing is already fighting back.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

The original reports indicated that Trump would order an investigation into Chinese trade practices, but today he didn’t go that far. Instead, the president is first asking his top trade official to weigh the possibility of an investigation.

This extends the timeline, and makes potential penalties much less immediate.

“Ambassador Lighthizer, you’re empowered to consider all available options at your disposal,” the president said. “We will safeguard the copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets and other intellectual property that is vital to our security and to our prosperity.”

 China requires many foreign companies doing business in China to create joint ventures and share their technology. This has long bothered those who don’t want to lose their competitive edge.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to address the issue.

 “We are going to enforce all trade violations against any country that cheats. This includes stopping china’s outrageous theft of intellectual property,” then candidate Trump told the Republican National Convention in July.

Beijing is warning any unilateral penalties could lead to a trade war.

“Trade measures taken by any member of the World Trade Organization should abide by the rules of the WTO,” according to Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying. “We have said repeatedly before that as China and the United States are increasingly interconnected with their interests closely entwined with each other, a trade war will get them nowhere.”

Trade experts are now asking: if Washington no longer uses the WTO to resolve trade disputes, will others do the same?

“With this case I think the WTO was supposed to replace tools like this,” CSIS trade expert Scott Kennedy said. “But there are a lot of gaps in the WTO. [It] moves in a relatively glacial pace.”

The White House doesn’t have much patience when it comes to resolving the Korean nuclear crisis, either.

A U.S. official tells CGTN the White House plans to use a series of trade actions to pressure Beijing to cut off Pyongyang from resources it needs to continue its illegal nuclear and missile programs.

The announcement for this trade action was initially scheduled one day before the UN Security Council vote to sanction the DPRK. China supported those sanctions.

Senior administration officials deny there’s any connection between what Washington is doing on trade and the partnership it’s building with Beijing on containing the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive action that asks his trade office to explore a possible investigation into China for the alleged theft of American technology and intellectual property.

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To understand more on U.S. President Trump’s accusations against China in trade policy, CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke with David Dollar from the Brookings Institution here in Washington. He’s a senior fellow at John L Thornton China Center.

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