China to implement United Nations sanctions on North Korea

Trump's latest move does not mean any immediate sanctions on China as is being reported by some media outlets, but might lead to one at the end of the investigation which could take as long as a year.

The announcement followed a call on Friday between Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into China's trade practices, according to two USA officials familiar with that conversation. Like many people Reuters interviewed for this story, he spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The appointment came amid reports that Trump plans to order probe against China's Intellectual Property Right (IPR) violations to press Beijing to do more to rein its ally North Korea. But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into China's trade practices, according to two USA officials familiar with that conversation. "What they may not know is that China is also forcing and coercing American companies that operate in China to turn over their technologies".

Yang explained that the 301 Section of the Trade Act of 1974 was created to investigate "unfair trade" practices, including in areas involving intellectual property rights such as trademarks, patents and copyrights.

In general, trade disputes among WTO members should be resolved through the WTO mechanism, not based on a member's domestic law, said Zhiqun Zhu, a professor of political science and worldwide relations at Bucknell University in the US state of Pennsylvania.

Beijing issued the order on Monday.

An administration official contended that the possible investigation was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea.

The two leaders did agree on a few points announced by the White House Saturday morning, noting, "President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior".

"No longer are we going to allow other countries to break the rules, to steal our jobs and drain our wealth", Trump said at the time. "And I think China will do a lot more".

China, the isolated North's main trading partner, has been reluctant to push leader Kim Jong-un's regime too hard for fear it might collapse.

China has announced it will cut off imports of North Korean coal, iron ore and other key goods in three weeks under United Nations sanctions imposed over the North's nuclear program.

Trump has escalated his harsh criticism of North Korea for days, tweeting Friday that the US had military options "locked and loaded". Xi, in his phone conversation with Trump, urged calm.

"If the US uses Section 301 (of the Trade Act) to pressure China, countries in China's export chain, including the US, Japan and South Korea, would be affected", said Liu Ligang, Chief Economist for China at Citigroup. American companies "should not be forced or coerced to turn over the fruits of their labour", the official said, adding that the cost of intellectual theft on U.S. economy is estimated to be as high as United States dollars 600 billion a year.

The U.S. government's threat to investigate China's trade practices is "politically expedient" and the unilateral move will harm mutually beneficial China-U.S. trade ties and ultimately hurt the American consumers, experts said.

  • Jacqueline Ellis