Washington DC
14 August 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Trump to give green light for China IP investigation

US President Donald Trump is to sign an executive memorandum authorising the US Trade Representative (USTR) to examine China’s allegedly “unfair” intellectual property practices.

According to Chinese state media outlet China Daily, the memorandum could potentially lead to punitive tariffs on Chinese exports.

Earlier this year, China was placed on the USTR’s Priority Watch List.

The country “imposes requirements that US firms develop their IP in China or transfer their IP to Chinese entities as a condition to accessing the Chinese market”, while being home to “widespread infringing activity, including trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting and high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit exports to markets around the globe”, according to the USTR.

The China Daily said punitive trade tariffs could “poison” the overall China-US relationship.

“Given Trump’s transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is impossible to look at the matter without taking into account his increasing disappointment at what he deems as China’s failure to bring into line the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the state run news organisation said.

“His idea of exploiting trade as a bargaining chip in dealings with China dates back to the campaign trail.”

Tensions between the US and North Korea have gone nuclear in recent weeks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump trading threats and warnings.

The China Daily said: “The trade imbalance, regular fodder for China-bashing on Capitol Hill, is, to a great extent, self-inflicted, an outcome of the US’s political restrictions on exports to China. Yet this essential aspect is conspicuously absent in the US’s narrative.”

“The list of US gains in trade with China can grow or shrink, depending on how trade issues are handled.”

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