President Donald Trump is poised to unveil sanctions against China for the “theft” of US intellectual property Thursday, a White House official said, teeing up a second potential trade war in as many months.
Spokesman Raj Shah told AFP that Trump will announce actions following an “investigation into China’s state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal US technologies and intellectual property.”
Beijing has already warned the Trump administration against the move, urging him not act “emotionally.”
It is just weeks since Trump short-circuited White House deliberations and announced a raft of sanctions on foreign-produced steel and aluminum off the cuff.
That move prompted the resignation of top economic advisor Gary Cohn, a stock market selloff, legal disputes and threats of retaliatory measures.
On Wednesday Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that the prospect of a trade war as a growing threat to the world’s largest economy.
But the impulsive president is showing no sign of backing down.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently proposed a separate package of $30 billion in tariffs on China.
Trump appears to have agreed at least that amount, as he tries to fulfil campaign promises to get tough on trade distortions, which he says have destroyed American jobs.
The US trade deficit with China ran to a record $375 billion last year — but US exports to the country were also at a record.
Washington has long accused Beijing of forcing US companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China.