Chinese State Newspaper Says Trump Trade Probe Will 'Poison' Relations

Trump May Roll Out Probe Into China and Intellectual Property Theft: Sources

Increasing tension between the U.S. and North Korea has pushed the two superpowers' relationship further into the spotlight, with Trump and his team calling on Xi Jinping's government to take a hard line with Pyongyang.

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.

Trump's call with Xi and his potential plans to open the broad trade investigation come against the backdrop of rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into Chinas trade practices, according to two US officials familiar with that conversation.

Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

In an editorial, the state-owned China Daily newspaper said Trump was asking too much of China over North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK. Pyongyang this week threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam during an exchange of bellicose rhetoric with Trump.

"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies, including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, harm the USA economy and workers", a second official told reporters.

When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China's Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S. Beijing has defended its economic ties with Pyongyang as normal commerce between neighbors and insisted the trade did not violate United Nations sanctions. The technology sector has been especially hard-hit in intellectual property disputes.

"This is just the beginning - I want to tell you that", Trump said. "And I think China will do a lot more".

The U.S. aluminum foil production industry accounts for $6.8 billion in economic activity annually, according to a statement from the Aluminum Association, a trade group.

But at the same time, Beijing warned President Donald Trump not to split the global coalition over North Korea by provoking a trade war between China and the United States.

The latest United Nations sanctions are meant to block North Korean exports worth one billion dollars (£768 million) - a significant share of total exports valued at three billion dollars (£2.3 billion) past year.

A decision to use the law to re-balance trade with China "could trigger a trade war", according to the commentary under the name of researcher Mei Xinyu, of the ministry's worldwide trade and economic co-operation institute.

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