The move, which is not yet an official investigation, could lay the groundwork for one. While Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade deal, and will begin talks next week to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, other planned trade measures have been slow to materialize. This past week, Trump said he could soften his views on trade if China stepped up its assistance, leading to speculation that the investigation could be a negotiating tactic.
"The [U.S. -China] relationship could spiral out of control, particularly if the movement on the trade front is combined with growing tensions over how to respond to North Korea", said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In April, he said he wouldn't label China a currency manipulator, in return for help in dealing with North Korea.
"This is simply not fair", said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US president also warned North Korea it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil, after nuclear-armed Pyongyang said it was readying plans to launch missiles towards the Pacific territory of Guam.More news: AIADMK merger speculations grow as Palaniswami meets PM Modi
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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. It was not immediately clear whether he was talking about trade was the subject. "But if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade - a lot differently toward trade". -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation".
Trade experts and business leaders said the new investigation into intellectual property could be a sign that the trade agenda is shifting into the hands of United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, a respected negotiator who helped implement some of the most protectionist trade policies of recent decades during the Reagan administration. "The results are there for all to see".
But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into China's trade practices, according to two US officials familiar with that conversation. South Korea and the United States fired off missiles on July 5 simulating a precision strike against North Korea's leadership, in response to a landmark ICBM test described by Kim Jong-Un as a gift to "American bastards".
CNN also reported that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping about the expected executive action in a phone call on Friday.