Trump orders probe of China's intellectual property rules

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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.

Trump's threat to investigate China's intellectual property and trade practices is valid, but his administration might not be up to the delicate task of carrying out a new China probe without sparking a damaging trade war, United States business lobbyists said last week.

The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the US and North Korea. Trump suggested that if China helped rein in North Korea, which is reliant on Beijing's economic and security aid, he could lighten up on his attacks on Chinese trade practices, which were a mainstay of his election campaign. "But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade - a lot differently toward trade".

The process Lighthizer will initiate, under Article 302b of the US Commercial Code, could take as long as a year to yield its findings.

Despite Mr. Trump's promises to be tougher than previous presidents on trade, his administration has proceeded with high levels of caution.

"China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten USA soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral", the Global Times said in an editorial. President Trump has previously chastised China for not doing enough about the hermit nation, however, an administration official said the move Monday is unrelated to North Korea. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of worldwide law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.

"Trade is trade, national security is national security", the official stated.

Next week the United States is scheduled to embark on its first round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Officials, speaking to reporters on the Saturday conference call, said their intention was not to punish Beijing but to negotiate an agreement that clawed back some of the estimated $600 billion in intellectual property theft officials estimate is perpetuated by China. -China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan group created by Congress in 2000 to monitor trade and security issues between the world's two largest economies. Instead, he is leading the administration is dusting off a variety of powerful and unilateral measures under USA trade law, many of which the United States stopped using after the creation of the WTO, which has its own mechanisms to settle trade disputes.

Meanwhile, China has continued to maintain barriers that prevent USA companies from accessing its market, while adding new requirements for US companies to share technology with the Chinese state, like a recent cybersecurity law.

Kennedy of CSIS says business leaders express a range of opinions, depending on how much they discrimination they face in China and how key Chinese profits are to their business.

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