Trump to call for China trade investigation

Reviewing nukes was not Trump's first order, it was his 13th

President Trump plans to get tougher on trade with China.

The president plans to sign an executive memorandum Monday afternoon, directing his top trade negotiator to determine whether to investigate China for harming intellectual property, innovation and technology, senior administration officials said in a conference call Saturday morning.

An official continued on to say that there is more than $600 billion of intellectual property theft against US companies with China responsible for a huge portion of that. 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. Xi, in his phone conversation with Trump, urged calm.

CNN also reported that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping about the expected executive action in a phone call on Friday. The Trump administration is insisting the move isn't tied to heightening tensions with North Korea, but it is inherently connected to complications in the region.

Trump has escalated his harsh criticism of North Korea for days, tweeting Friday that the USA had military options "locked and loaded".

When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China's Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S.

That step is expected Monday but won't come as a surprise to the Beijing government.

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

Despite Trump's previous comments, officials at the briefing repeatedly rebuffed any attempt by reporters to connect the possible investigation to the North Korea situation.

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 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".

Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the U.S.

"The United States government can, and does, work with countries to address serious concerns such as North Korea while also pursuing measures to address economic concerns, such as the theft of U.S. intellectual property", a U.S. National Security Council official said.

U.S. and European companies have long complained of the Chinese legislation that forces them to turn over their industrial secrets if they wish to do business in China.

"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. 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.

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

"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft harm the U.S. economy and its workers", a second administration official said.

Denyer reported from Beijing.

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