Thursday, 19 July, 2018

US President Donald Trump ponders trade war with China

Christy Curtis | 14 August, 2017, 00:31

US President Donald Trump will sign a memorandum Monday that could lead to sanctions against China over its intellectual property practices, administration officials said Saturday. "But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade - a lot differently toward trade".

"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. They reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the White House said in a statement. Xi, in his phone conversation with Trump, urged calm. He said it would be premature to speculate on actions that could eventually be taken against China, and added that the issue could be resolved through "negotiated agreement".

When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China's Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S. Xi "stressed that China and the US share the same interests on the denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula".

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

They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of global law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.

While China joined in a unanimous U.N. 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.

He simply will initiate the latest investigation of intellectual property theft in a long line of them running back through past administrations.

"If Americans continue to have their best technologies and intellectual property stolen or forcibly transferred off-shore, the United States will find it hard to maintain its current technology leadership position", they added.

American companies "should not be forced or coerced to turn over the fruits of their labor", a second administration official said.

Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the U.S.

"That will not solve America's economic problems and probably in the long term will make it worse", Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a leading China expert, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The president's trade action will be a long way from any punitive move against China, despite his and his advisors' open talk of Chinese "theft" and "stealing" of US companies' intellectual property, which broadly includes technological innovations, film and other artistic products, industrial designs and military secrets. "Those activities haven't abated; they've accelerated as China seeks to become self-sufficient in new technologies and dominate world markets", he said.

Should Lighthizer decide to launch such an investigation, "he will have at his discretion broad powers to use all applicable measures, including, but not limited to, Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which provides a basis for addressing technology transfer practices that may be harming the US economy, exports and American jobs", an administration official said. It was unclear whether the issue of trade came up.

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. "Trade is trade. National security is national security".

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