Trump to launch investigation into China's trade practice

North Korea warns it could 'reduce the US to ashes'

North Korea warns it could 'reduce the US to ashes'

President Donald Trump may roll out a long-expected initiative to investigate China's trade practices on Monday, with emphasis on alleged intellectual property theft, two administration sources told NBC News.

"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies, including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, harm the USA economy and workers", a second official said.

The move, which could eventually lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods, comes at a time when Trump has asked China to do more to crack down on North Korea's nuclear missile program as he threatens possible military action against Pyongyang.

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 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. The Chinese policies of an American company to enter into a join venture with a Chinese company to do business is "not fair", the official said. "If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade".

The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea. The move delays for as long as a year any decision on actions that could stem from a probe, such as US tariff increases or other punishing unilateral actions.

"I think China can do a lot more", Trump told reporters Thursday.

Such thefts not only damage American companies, but also pose a threat to the USA national security, the second official said.

In addition to the United States, the European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behavior on intellectual property theft.

"China also funds and facilitates the acquisition of United States firms that possess advanced technologies", the officials said.

"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. The investigation is being ordered under US Trade Act of 1974, which officials said permits the USTR to investigate acts, policies or practices of a foreign country to determine whether they are indeed unreasonable or discriminatory that burden or otherwise restrict US commerce. Lighthizer will recommend whether an official investigation into trade practices is warranted. However, the US pledged in the mid-1990s to settle disputes through the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system rather than by taking unilateral action. Responding to a question, a senior administration official said many other countries are facing similar problem with respect to China. 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. "What they may not know is that China is also forcing and coercing American companies that operate in China to turn over their technologies". "China's forced technology transfer is highly institutionalised", the official said.

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