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Trump orders probe into Chinese theft of intellectual property

“For too long, this wealth has been drained from our country while Washington has done nothing”

(National SentinelTrade wars: President Donald J. Trump on Monday ordered a probe of Chinese theft of American intellectual property, in a major slap at Beijing, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“We’re going to be fulfilling another campaign promise by taking firm steps to ensure that we protect the intellectual property of American companies and, very importantly, of American workers,” Trump said while signing a memorandum for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.

The Free Beacon noted further:

The directive will set the stage for an investigation into trade practices that require U.S. companies operating in China to provide intellectual property to the Chinese government.

If a formal investigation is launched, it could take several years and potentially result in the imposition of economic sanctions on China.

The president’s action on predatory Chinese trade practices follows the failure by Beijing to rein in its communist ally North Korea.

In July, Trump tweeted, “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk.”

“We will no longer allow this to continue,” he tweeted. “China could easily solve this problem!”

Trump said Monday that theft of U.S. intellectual property costs “billions and billions of dollars” each year and millions of U.S. jobs.

“For too long, this wealth has been drained from our country while Washington has done nothing,” he said. “They have never done anything about it. But Washington will turn a blind eye no longer.”

More:

The memorandum calls on the USTR office to probe China’s policies, practices, and action regarding forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property.

The inquiry could result in a formal 301 investigation, so called after Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act.

The law gives the president broad power, including retaliation, to punish foreign governments that violate international trade agreements or used unreasonable and discriminatory practices that restrict U.S. commerce.

The USTR must seek to negotiate a settlement with the foreign nation in the form of compensation or elimination of the trade barrier.

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access,” Trump said. “We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs, we will enforce the rules of fair and reciprocal trade that form the foundation of responsible commerce, and we will protect forgotten Americans who have been left behind by a global trade system that has failed to look—and I mean look—out for their interests. They have not been looking out at all.”

Trump is correct in that China is key to reining in North Korea. But it’s not clear even with this threat of trade-related sanctions — if the USTR finds evidence of property theft, which he is likely to do — that Beijing will do more than it already is in sanctioning Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

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