Trump trade investigation will ‘poison’ relations with China, media warns

The president is expected to order the probe despite the risk of angering Beijing amid the North Korea nuclear standoff. Donald Trump’s decision to order an investigation into allegedly unfair Chinese trade practices will “poison” relations between the two countries, a state-run newspaper has said.

Trump is expected to issue the order on Monday to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force US firms operating in China to turn over intellectual property, senior administration officials said on Saturday.

The move, which could eventually lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods, comes at a time when Trump has asked China to do more to crack down on North Korea’s nuclear missile programme as he threatens possible military action against Pyongyang.

Trump has said he would treat Beijing more favourably if it were more aggressive in reining in North Korea.

In an editorial, the official China Daily said it was critical the Trump administration did not make a rash decision it would regret.

“Given Trump’s transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is impossible to look at the matter without taking into account his increasing disappointment at what he deems as China’s failure to bring into line [North] Korea,” the English-language paper said.

“But instead of advancing the United States’ interests, politicising trade will only exacerbate the country’s economic woes, and poison the overall China-US relationship.”

An administration official said diplomacy over North Korea and the potential trade probe were “totally unrelated”, saying the trade action was not a pressure tactic.

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