Democrats back Trump on probe into Chinese trade

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right), accompanied by Senator Ron Wyden speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, on Aug 1, 2017.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (right), accompanied by Senator Ron Wyden speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, on Aug 1, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Three top Democratic senators, in a rare show of bipartisanship, have urged US President Donald Trump to stand up to China as he prepares to launch an inquiry into Beijing's intellectual property and trade practices.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer pressed the Republican President to skip the investigation and go straight to trade action against China. "We should certainly go after them," Mr Schumer said in a statement.

Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Sherrod Brown of Ohio also urged Mr Trump to rein in China.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated in recent months as Mr Trump has pressed China to reduce steel production to ease global oversupply and rein in North Korea's missile programme.

Sources familiar with the current discussions said that Mr Trump was expected to issue a presidential memorandum in the coming days, citing Chinese theft of intellectual property as a problem. The European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern regarding China's behaviour on intellectual property theft.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would then initiate an investigation under a 1974 Trade Act provision, which allows the President to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect US industries, according to the sources.

It is unclear whether such a probe would result in trade sanctions against China, which Beijing would almost certainly challenge before the World Trade Organisation.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement to Reuters that China "opposes unilateral actions and trade protectionism in any form".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Democrats back Trump on probe into Chinese trade'. Print Edition | Subscribe