Trump moves to pressure China on trade practices

Trump moves to pressure China on trade practices
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President Trump will sign an executive memorandum on Monday authorizing the U.S. trade representative to determine whether to investigate China's intellectual property and trade practices, according to senior administration officials.

While administration officials said Saturday that it's too early to discuss specific actions against China, such an investigation could eventually pave the way for Trump to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.

Trump is expected to return to Washington from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. on Monday to sign the memo. 

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CNN reported earlier Saturday that Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the upcoming memo during a phone call Friday.

Administration officials, however, said that that call focused on Washington's current tensions with North Korea and an official readout of the conversation provided by the White House did not mention China's trade practices.

Trump's memo comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and increasing frustration in the White House that China has not done more to rein in Pyongyang.

But a senior administration official said that concerns over China's trade practices have been longstanding, and that the president's memo was unrelated to efforts to put pressure on Beijing over North Korea.

While China joined the rest of the United Nations Security Council last week in voting for new sanctions against North Korea, Trump has continued to call on China to do more in regards to Pyongyang, suggesting this week that he would go easier on China if it stepped up its efforts to rein in its reclusive neighbor.

Trump was expected to sign the executive memo earlier this month, but according to Reuters the decision was delayed in order to press for China's cooperation on North Korea.