Trump orders probe of China's intellectual property rules

Pauline Gross
August 14, 2017

Xi urged both sides not to do anything that would aggravate tensions.

"It wasn't just the Obama administration, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration tended to do that as well", said Bown, adding that previous USA administrations have successfully used the WTO to get other countries to change their policies that were breaking the rules. After the investigation is completed, the trade office will discuss its findings with related American companies and the Department of Commerce before the president proposes remedial measures, according to Yang.

The decision will not only take action against alleged Chinese violations of USA companies' intellectual property rights, but could also be perceived as an attempt by the US government to crank up the pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea.

However, Bown was anxious that the Trump administration "hasn't really yet identified a strategy to engage China on the long-term systemic sort of talks" as they seemed much focused on "getting quick wins".

Although Beijing joined in a unanimous UN Security Council decision to tighten economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its long-range missile tests, it is not clear whether Trump thinks Beijing is doing enough.

When asked about the delay during the Saturday call, the officials did not address the question directly. 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.

"If Americans continue to have their best technology and intellectual property stolen, or forcibly transferred offshore, the United States will find it hard to maintain its current technology-leadership position and to remain one of the world's most innovative economies".

The move, which is not yet an official investigation, could lay the groundwork for one.

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In particular, Trump wants an examination of Chinese trade practices that force American companies to share their intellectual property if they want access to the world's second largest economy.

"Trade is trade; national security is national security", said one official, who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with administration practice.

Politico said it was not clear how much detail Trump would provide in his announcement, but that administration officials expected U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a section 301 probe.

Chinese commercial policy aimed to acquire and absorb the intellectual property of the United States and other countries around the world, according to the officials.

The results of three separate investigations into trade deficits and the national security threats posed by imports of steel and aluminum, initially expected by the end of June, have yet to appear.

The process can bypass World Trade Organization procedures for adjudicating grievances.

Used frequently during the Reagan administration in the 1980s, the law allows the U.S. president to impose tariffs and other measures to force open export markets.

-China trading relationship. But analysts have cautioned that Trump faces a huge challenge in his desire to significantly reduce the US trade deficit with China, which previous year stood at more than $300 billion. That initiative sets forth a long-term plan for China's dominance in a wide variety of high-tech industries, including electric vehicles, advanced medical products and robotics.

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