Politico said the trade probe would not mean immediate sanctions, but could ultimately lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods.
The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the USA and North Korea. If an investigation begins, the US government could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organization or outside of it.
An official continued on to say that there is more than $600 billion of intellectual property theft against US companies with China responsible for a huge portion of that. "And I think China will do a lot more". Trump suggested that if China helped rein in North Korea, which is reliant on Beijing's economic and security aid, he could lighten up on his attacks on Chinese trade practices, which were a mainstay of his election campaign. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of worldwide law and would not trigger greater conflict with China.
Such thefts not only damage American companies, but also pose a threat to the U.S. national security, the second official said.
In a phone call Friday, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for backing the recent United Nations vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, and the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea.
"President Trump is committed to protect America's intellectual property and national security", the official said.
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.
In the conference call, officials did not rule out working with the WTO or other countries to penalize Chinese intellectual property violations, saying that the portions of US trade law they are relying on, Sections 301 and 302 of the 1974 trade law, allow them to take a broad range of actions.
The administration has been eyeing other moves to rebalance the U.S.
Kennedy of CSIS says business leaders express a range of opinions, depending on how much they discrimination they face in China and how key Chinese profits are to their business. -China trading relationship. But analysts have cautioned that Trump faces a huge challenge in his desire to significantly reduce the US trade deficit with China, which past year stood at more than $300 billion.