13 August, 2017
Several administration officials outlined the highly preliminary trade action to reporters Saturday, suggesting - contrary to Trump's own statements - that trade policy toward China is divorced from any national security concern, including North Korea.
President Donald Trump tomorrow will order his top trade adviser to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force U.S. firms operating in China to turn over intellectual property, senior administration officials said yesterday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called on all sides in the North Korean nuclear crisis to act responsibly "to prevent any escalation of tensions" after a days-long war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. "And I think China will do a lot more".
The investigation, which one USA official said could take as long as a year, may prove to be a source of leverage to push China to do more to help contain a rising security threat from North Korea, which counts Beijing as its only powerful ally.
Earlier this week, France had praised Trump's "determination" in standing up to Pyongyang. -North Korean relations and Americans imprisoned in North Korea, the source said. 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. Trump and Macron spoke over phone and discussed the need to confront the increasingly risky situation regarding North Korea's destabilising and escalatory behaviour, the White House said. Xi, in his phone conversation with Trump, urged calm.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took issue with that assessment. Xi "stressed that China and the USA share the same interests on the denuclearisation and peace on the Korean peninsula".
The Trump administration is insisting the move isn't tied to heightening tensions with North Korea, but it is inherently connected to complications in the region.
Xi Jinping, the leader of North Korea's key ally China, urged Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions, after the USA leader ramped up his warnings to Pyongyang, saying the Stalinist regime would "truly regret" taking hostile action against the United States.
When asked about the delay, the dministration officials did not address the question directly.
"We will no longer allow this to continue".
"We would like to emphasize that the Chinese government has always attached importance to intellectual property protection", a spokesman said.
"This is simply not fair", said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft harm the United States economy and its workers", a second administration official said. They know how I feel.
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.