Trump to request possible probe of China trade practices

In this July 8, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. Trump is planning to sign an executive action asking the U.S. Trade Representative to consider investigating China for the theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property. He is taking the step even as he seeks China’s help with the ongoing crisis with North Korea. (AP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Trump to request possible probe of China trade practices

BEDMINSTER, NEW JERSEY: Even as he seeks Beijing’s help on North Korea, President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order asking his trade office to consider investigating China for the alleged theft of American technology and intellectual property, an administration official said Saturday.
That step is expected Monday but won’t come as a surprise to the Beijing government. There is no deadline for deciding if any investigation is necessary. Such an investigation easily could last a year.
In a phone call Friday, Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for backing the recent UN vote to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea, and the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into China’s trade practices, according to two US officials familiar with that conversation. They were not authorized to publicly discuss the private call and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump wants government officials to look at Chinese practices that force American companies to share their intellectual property in order to gain access to the world’s second largest economy. Many US businesses must create joint ventures with Chinese companies and turn over valuable technology assets, a practice that Washington says stifles US economic growth.
Trump’s action amounts to a request that his trade representative determine whether an investigation is needed under the Trade Act of 1974. If an investigation begins, the US government could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organization or outside of it.
China’s foreign and commerce ministries did not immediately respond to faxed requests for comment Sunday.
While Beijing has promised to open more industries to foreign companies, it also has issued new rules on electric car manufacturing, data security, Internet censorship and other fields.
Trump, who is on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, said Friday that he planned to be in Washington on Monday “for a very important meeting’” and “we’re going to have a pretty big press conference.” It was not immediately clear whether he was talking about trade was the subject.
The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before Trump’s formal announcement.
As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not ratcheting up pressure on its Asian neighbor.
“I think China can do a lot more,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “And I think China will do a lot more.”
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.
“At present, relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Xi said, according to the statement provided by China’s government.
Trump, in the past, has tied trade policy to national security. In April, he said he wouldn’t label China a currency manipulator, in return for help in dealing with North Korea. This past week, Trump said he could soften his views on trade if China stepped up its assistance, leading to speculation that the investigation could be a negotiating tactic.
The forced sharing of intellectual property with Chinese firms has been a long-standing concern of the US business community.
A 2013 report by a commission co-chaired by Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China under President Barack Obama and Trump’s nominee to be Russian envoy, pegged the losses from US intellectual property theft at hundreds of billions of dollars annually that cost the US economy millions of jobs.
Trump has requested similar inquiries on trade, but the reports haven’t been delivered on deadline. Trump made addressing the US trade deficit with China a centerpiece of his campaign last year and has suggested raising tariffs on goods from China.
At the end of March, Trump asked the Commerce Department to prepare a report on the causes of the trade deficit, country by country and product by product, in 90 days. The report has yet to be released.
Similarly, the president also asked for a review about whether steel and aluminum imports were jeopardizing national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had hoped to finish the review by June, but parts of it remain in the final stages of interagency review.


About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

Updated 35 min 36 sec ago
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About 20 Nigerian soldiers missing after Boko Haram ambush — Reuters sources

  • Soldiers say their missing comrades were taken by the militants during an ambush
  • Military command denies losing troops, saying the terrorists in fact lost 22 of their men in fighting
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria: About 20 Nigerian soldiers are missing after a clash with Boko Haram militants in the northeast of the country, security sources said on Monday, though the military denied reports that some troops could not be found.
The confrontation between militants and troops took place on Saturday in the Bama area of Borno, the state worst hit by the jihadist group which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009 when it launched an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.
Three soldiers told Reuters more than 20 were missing.
“We lost some of our soldiers in the attack. It is possible those missing are dead. We haven’t seen about 23 of them now,” said an officer who did not want to be named.
Another soldier involved in the clash said the troops were ambushed while conducting a “clearance operation,” adding that “over 20 soldiers have not been seen up till now.” He said five military vehicles were taken.
The militant group carries out suicide bomb attacks in crowded places, such as markets, as well as gun raids and attacks on military bases.
At a news conference on Monday, the military said media reports of the soldiers being missing were untrue.
An army spokesman said suspected Boko Haram militants had tried to seize military vehicles in an attempted attack on troops in Bama but they had been repelled by troops backed by the air force.
“About 22 members of Boko Haram terrorists were neutralized while several others escaped with gunshot wounds. Efforts are being intensified by the troops to get the fleeing members of the Boko Haram terrorists,” said a military spokesman.
Boko Haram held territory around the size of Belgium in northeast Nigeria for several months until being pushed off much of that land in early 2015 by Nigeria’s army and troops from neighboring countries.
Bama, about 60 km (40 miles) southeast of Borno’s state capital Maiduguri, was held by Boko Haram from September 2014 until March 2015.
Nigeria’s government has said since December 2015 that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.” Yet attacks continue in the northeast while another group, a Daesh ally that split from Boko Haram in 2016, holds territory.