U.S. President Donald J. Trump directed Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday to investigate alleged intellectual property theft by China.
The president said the theft of intellectual property by foreign nations costs the U.S. millions of jobs and “billions and billions” of dollars every year.
“Washington will turn blind eye no longer. Today, I’m directing the United States Trade Representative to examine China’s policies, practices and actions with regard to the forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property,” Mr. Trump said in a press conference.
The president vowed to combat counterfeiting and piracy, underscoring that he was fulfilling his campaign promises. Mr. Trump told Ambassador Lighthizer to consider all available options at his disposal to resolve the issue.
Mr. Lighthizer promised to report back to the White House as soon as possible.
“China industrial policies and other practices reportedly have forced the transfer of vital U.S. technology to Chinese companies. We will engage in a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of U.S. industry,” he said in a statement.
Nicholas Lardy, the Anthony M. Solomon Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told The Globe Post that the probe into Chinese practices would not actually be launched until a number of legal steps are taken.
After this phase is completed, it will take up to a year for the trade representative to finish the investigation.
“Even then it is not automatic that there will be sanctions, even if China is found to be in violation of its WTO obligations, for example on intellectual property protection,” he said.
During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump called U.S. trade deficit with China unfair and urged tougher stance toward the country.