Trump opens door to investigating China's "theft" of U.S. intellectual property

A man looks at replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile and South Korean missiles at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on Thursday.
AFP Contributor  AFP  Getty Images

A man looks at replicas of a North Korean Scud-B missile and South Korean missiles at the Korean War Memorial in Seoul on Thursday. AFP Contributor AFP Getty Images

President Donald Trump will start the beginning steps Monday of a long awaited crackdown on Chinese intellectual property practices, administration officials told reporters Saturday. An investigation by Lighthizer could possibly lead to tariffs against China and action through the World Trade Organization.

The new measure comes amid high tensions between Washington and Beijing. 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.

If the investigation finds that China is harming US companies, the Trump administration could respond by imposing tariffs, negotiating an agreement with China, or other measures, the officials said. "But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade - a lot differently toward trade".

Although China has substantial geostrategic leverage over North Korea, Xi Jinping prefers to stay calm with regard to Kim Jong Un's threats against the US and utilizes this channel as an indirect route to respond to Trump's tit-for-tat. 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.

In addition to the United States, the EU, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behavior on intellectual property theft. Therefore, China's crystallizing dominance in global production and trade networks, as well as their further extension into Eurasia through grand projects such as the Belt and Road initiative are seen as real national security challenges for the U.S. Likewise, China's massive military investments in state-of-the-art aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and stealth fighters are interpreted as part of a systematic endeavor to balance and surpass the worldwide influence of the U.S.

He simply will initiate the latest investigation of intellectual property theft in a long line of them running back through past administrations. Instead, he is leading the administration is dusting off a variety of powerful and unilateral measures under US 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. -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation".

As a prime example of what the officials called China's "unfair trade practices", they objected that the country requires American businesses that want to operate there to form joint ventures with state-run companies and share intellectual property with them.

"We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China".

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.