Trump to call for China IT trade probe on Monday

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The investigation could take as long as a year, US officials said.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) spoke by telephone on Friday night, reiterating their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, the White House said in a statement.

Officials at the White House and U.S. Trade Representative's office were not immediately available for comment.

"We would like to emphasize that the Chinese government has always attached importance to intellectual property protection", a spokesman said.

The concerns about China's practices include policies that encourage businesses to share or turn over their technology to joint venture partners, and China's use of state funds to promote its own intellectual property. Under Section 301, USTR may determine whether to trigger an investigation of "any".

Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

Trump will make a day trip to Washington, D.C., on Monday, briefly interrupting his 17-day August working vacation, a White House official said on Friday.

The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea.

As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not ratcheting up pressure on its Asian neighbor.

"That phone call (with Xi) will take place tonight", Trump told reporters in New Jersey.

The trade investigation could strain relations between the USA and China as the two countries wrestle with the unpredictable situation over North Korea.

Trump has escalated his harsh criticism of North Korea for days, tweeting Friday that the US had military options "locked and loaded".

"At present, relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula", Xi said, according to the statement provided by China's government. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of global law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.

"Trade is trade, national security is national security", the official stated.

It may also prove to be a source of leverage to push China to do more to help contain a rising security threat from North Korea, which counts Beijing as its only powerful ally.

In a background briefing with reporters on Saturday, White House officials pointed to frustration from US businesses that they have to share intellectual property with China as a condition for doing business in the country.

The United States has previously complained at the WTO about Chinese trade policies, including its "Made in China 2025" initiative, which seeks to have Chinese-made materials account for 70 percent of manufacturing inputs within the next eight years.

President Donald Trump has issued an urgent warning to North Korea not to move ahead with its ballistic missile testing.

At the end of March, Trump asked the Commerce Department to prepare a report on the causes of the trade deficit, country by country and product by product, in 90 days.

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