WASHINGTON – The Latest on President Donald Trump and U.S. relations with China (all times local):
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President Donald Trump has signed an executive action that asks his trade office to explore a possible investigation into China for the alleged theft of American technology and intellectual property.
Trump suggested at the Monday afternoon signing that additional steps would be taken against China on trade issues.
The president said as he signed the memo at the White House, "This is just the beginning."
The action comes as the United States has been seeking help from China to curb North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.
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Trump wants government officials to dig into Chinese practices that force American companies to share their intellectual property in order to gain access to the world's second-largest economy.
China has announced that it will cut off imports of North Korean coal, iron ore and other goods in three weeks under U.N. sanctions imposed over the North's nuclear and missile programs.
China, the isolated North's main trading partner, has been reluctant to push leader Kim Jong Un's regime too hard for fear it might collapse. But Beijing is increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang and supported a U.N. Security Council ban on Aug. 5 on coal and other key goods.
The Chinese customs agency said Monday that it will stop processing imports of North Korean coal, iron and lead ores and fish at midnight on Sept. 5.
The announcement follows an escalating exchange of angry words between Kim's government and the Trump administration in Washington. The latest U.N. sanctions are intended to block North Korean exports worth $1 billion — a significant share of total exports valued at $3 billion last year.
Even as he seeks Beijing's help on North Korea, President Donald Trump is poised to seek a trade investigation of China for the alleged theft of American technology and intellectual property.
Trump is expected to sign an executive order Monday asking his trade office to consider the probe. In the midst of a 17-day vacation, Trump plans to leave his New Jersey golf club and return to Washington to sign the order.
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 U.N. 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 U.S. officials familiar with that conversation. They were not authorized to publicly discuss the private call and spoke on condition of anonymity.