Taiwan concerned by U.S. plan for unfair trade probe against China

Thousands of North Korea's top military officers have marched through Pyongyang in a show of support for their dictator Kim Jong-un

"An important question going forward will be whether US companies and trade associations who have highlighted the problem will actually come forward and assist our government in the investigation or whether they will hide the facts, fearful that our government won't follow through, that the Chinese will retaliate against their interests or that they'll have to admit what's happened to their critical assets".

In a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two leaders reaffirmed their shared desire for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. It was not immediately clear whether he was talking about trade was the subject.

Several administration officials outlined the highly preliminary trade action to reporters Saturday, suggesting - contrary to Trump's own statements - that trade policy toward China is divorced from any national security concern, including North Korea.

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.

Trump's action amounts to a request that his trade representative determine whether an investigation is needed under the Trade Act of 1974.

Still, Trump praised China Friday for supporting the recent United Nations vote to ratchet up sanctions against North Korea. Xi urged both sides not to do anything that would aggravate tensions.

The commissioned report may take a year to compile but could lead to USA sanctions against Beijing.

Such tariffs are politically expedient because Trump "sort of promised that" to his supporters in the manufacturing-dependent mid-west USA states, which have seen great job losses in the past decade, Kuhn noted.

An administration official, however, insisted diplomacy over North Korea and the potential trade probe were "totally unrelated", saying the trade action was not a pressure tactic. They said that US companies had long suffered because of Chinese intellectual-property violations, and that they expected Congress and the business community to support the measure. Many U.S. businesses must create joint ventures with Chinese companies and turn over valuable technology assets, a practice that Washington says stifles U.S. economic growth.

"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". -China Economic and Security Review Commission, a watchdog group established by Congress.

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. Meanwhile, 100 days of trade talks with the Chinese carried out in past months resulted in a few trade gains but not the ambitious changes the administration had hoped for.

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

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, a popular trade tool in the 1980s that has been rarely used in the past decade, allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect USA industries from "unfair trade practices" of foreign countries.

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

Trade with China helps each American family save 850 dollars every year, according to China's Ministry of 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 medical products and robotics.

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