Published: Sat, August 12, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Trump opens door to investigating China's "theft" of USA intellectual property

Trump opens door to investigating China's

Trump's call with Xi and his potential plans to open the broad trade investigation come against the backdrop of rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, bluntly accused China of "stealing our intellectual property" - long a concern of Western companies seeking a share of the enormous Chinese market.

An editorial in the Communist Party tabloid Global Times says "Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time". Yet the two leaders did not discuss this latest action in a phone conversation Friday night, and officials told reporters on Saturday that addressing intellectual property theft has been on their agenda since the president took office.

Trump, in the past, has tied trade policy to national security. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of global law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.

The official, who was speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that he doesn't believe this will lead to a period of conflict between the US and China, adding, "this is simply business between two countries". While Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade deal, and will begin talks next week to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, other planned trade measures have been slow to materialize.

Like the president, Lighthizer has criticized multilateral venues like the World Trade Organization for failing to provide adequate tools to address China's economic violations. Trump made addressing the US trade deficit with China a centerpiece of his campaign past year and has suggested raising tariffs on goods from China.

The administration has been eyeing other moves to rebalance the U.S.

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". That initiative sets forth a long-term plan for China's dominance in a wide variety of high-tech industries, including electric vehicles, advanced medial products and robotics.

The U.S. business community, which traditionally lobbied U.S. administrations to take a softer approach toward Beijing to protect access to a profitable market, has shifted toward a tougher stance on China in response. So far, however, its expressed goals are not drastically different than what was agreed to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that Mr. Trump has attacked.

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