US probe into China trade practices may lead to sanctions

US probe into China trade practices may lead to sanctions
US President Donald Trump is considering an investigation into what he considers China's unfair business practices. These include intellectual property theft, trade agreement violations and "discriminatory" actions against American companies.

The White House may ask US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to start a probe into the matter under the 1974 Trade Act's section 301, Reuters quotes an unnamed senior Trump administration official.

The law allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs and other trade sanctions to protect the US economy from "unfair trade practices" of foreign countries.

The White House has repeatedly accused China of devaluing the yuan, steel dumping, and theft of US intellectual property. The US also wants to ease requirements that American companies share advanced technology to gain access to the Chinese market.

An announcement about new measures could come this week, the Reuters’ source said.

Beijing has insisted trade between the countries benefits both sides and that China is willing to work with the US to improve their business relationship.

Trump has also criticized Beijing for failing to put more pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

China says its influence on the isolated state is limited, adding that the North Korea question should not be linked to China-US trade.

The World Trade Organization provides a forum for such trade disputes, but Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have complained that it takes years to solve trade conflicts in the WTO.

"The Trump administration believes in free and fair trade and will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles," Ross wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Tuesday.