Washington launches probe on Beijing's intellectual property practices

  • Washington launches probe on Beijing's intellectual property practices

Washington launches probe on Beijing's intellectual property practices

"We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs", Trump said.

The Trump administration estimates that China's intellectual property theft could cost the USA as much as $600 billion a year.

"Washington will turn a blind eye no longer", Trump insisted.

Foreign companies have long complained about Beijing's failure to protect know-how and patents, and in some cases forcing firms to share information with domestic partners as the price for doing business in the massive Chinese market.

"After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation", Lighthizer said. "We hope the relevant people can refrain from dealing with a problem in the 21st century with a zero-sum mentality from the 19th or the 20th century", China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, the Associated Press reported.

"Fighting a trade war has no future".

But the country has rarely used the trade tool since the World Trade Organisation began operations in 1995.

Senior administration officials told reporters last week that the United States would first consult with China if Lighthizer made a decision to go ahead with an investigation, and the investigation process could take as long as a year.

Section 301, once heavily used in the 1980s and the early 1990s, allows the USA president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions against foreign countries.

However, the start of a U.S. inquiry will not immediately result in open confrontation.

Since launching his successful run for the White House and then taking office, Trump has frequently accused China of undermining the United States economy. He recommended pursuing a trade investigation of Beijing's technology policies and anti-dumping action over Chinese exports of steel and aluminum.

Last week, Washington announced preliminary sanctions against Chinese imports of aluminium foil.

Analysis says that US President Trump's order to look into China's trade practices is a multi-purpose move to pressure China to pressure North Korea to give up nuclear weapons and missiles, and hold China in check, a G2 member country rising fast economically, militarily and diplomatically.

"If China helps us, I will feel a lot differently toward trade", he said.

China said it would halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting on Tuesday, in accordance with new United Nations sanctions that Beijing voted to approve.