Report: China trade investigation may start Monday

President Donald Trump is now ready to tackle another campaign promise: get tough on trade with China. To this end, the President will be calling for an investigation into allegations that the Asian nation violated U.S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers, according to news reports on Friday.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will likely open the investigation against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which will be used to investigate China’s behavior on intellectual property rights.

Trump had been delaying the move at the urging of United Nations and State Department officials who did not want to put a potential resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea in jeopardy.

China voted in favor of the sanctions against North Korea for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, in what turned out to be a unanimous vote by the U.N. Security Council. However, because China and Russia usually resist punishing North Korea, they may not actually enforce the sanctions.

A senior Chinese official said Monday there is absolutely no connection between North Korea’s nuclear program and trade between the U.S. and China.  However trade ministers from China concluded a conference in Shanghai on Wednesday, agreeing to promote international cooperation and oppose “trade and investment protectionism,” Reuters reported.

Now that the resolution has been approved, it’s time for the Trump administration to crack down on China. Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows Washington DC to look into China’s trade practices and raise tariffs on imports from China or impose other sanctions in a matter of months.

Section 301 was used often during the Reagan administration to combat Japanese imports of steel and other items. But then the World Trade Organization was founded in 1995, and Section 301 was rarely ever used.

It is expected that President Trump could launch Section 301 by the end of the week. Thus, a new investigation would begin. The focus would be on China’s alleged forced technology transfer policies and practices.

President Trump told reporters at his property in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday that “he will be speaking with President Xi tonight from China,” although he didn’t say what they would be discussing.

Following this investigation, the Trump administration could impose tariffs on Chinese imports, rescind licenses, or take other action.

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