United States formally launches probe of China's IP practices

Trump Xi

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer officially started a probe into China's intellectual property (IP) practices, less than a week after President Donald Trump asked him to consider the move.

Emmet LighthizerMORE launched a full-fledged investigation into China's alleged intellectual property theft on Friday, marking the Trump administration's firmest actions yet against China's trade practices.

On Monday, Trump instructed USA trade officials to look into whether to launch a formal investigation into whether Beijing improperly requires foreign companies to hand over technology as a condition of market access. The US Trade Law allows the US government to impose sanctions on countries that built trade barriers such as ramping up import tariffs. China had made efforts for IPR protection in recent years in the administrative and judicial aspects and produced positive results through enhancing global cooperation and exchanges and China hoped that the USTR would act prudently by paying attention to these objective facts, Xinhua said.

"China will definitely not sit by, but take all appropriate measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests", the Ministry said.

"The United States should treasure the current sound Sino-U.S. economic and trade ties and cooperation momentum".

The United States is China's second-largest trading partner after the European Union, and had a deficit of almost $310 billion past year.

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Bannon specifically mentioned using Section 301 to investigate "Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping".

Jeffrey Schott, another trade expert and senior fellow at the PIIE, told Xinhua that the objective of the investigation is "to find out what the facts are and to use the process of investigation to expand bilateral consultations with China" so that there is a better understanding of each country's practices.

"Whether there are restrictions or not will depend on how the study proceeds and how the bilateral consultations between the U.S. and China unfold over the next few months", he said.

China's Commerce Ministry responded Tuesday to Trump's memo with a statement saying it "will resort to all proper measures" to defend its rights if the USA disregards multilateral rules and hurts bilateral trade.

China has been warning the Trump administration against bypassing the WTO since January.

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