US determines Chinese trade practices merit ‘thorough investigation’

US determines Chinese trade practices merit ‘thorough investigation’
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United States Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE 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.

"After consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation," Lighthizer said in a statement. 

The announcement came four days after President Trump signed an executive memo authorizing the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to determine whether an investigation into China's trade practices is necessary.

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China's alleged theft of U.S. technology, music, films and other intellectual property has long been a concern among lawmakers in Washington. 

As a presidential candidate, Trump railed against China's trade practices, frequently claiming that they put the U.S. at an unfair disadvantage.

The investigation also comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and Trump's efforts to pressure China to take a harder line against Pyongyang's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.