Trump trade investigation will ‘poison’ relations with China, media warns

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The president is expected to order the probe on Monday despite the risk of angering Beijing amid the North Korea nuclear standoff

Donald Trumps decision to order an investigation into allegedly unfair Chinese trade practices will poison relations between the two countries, a state-run newspaper has said.

Trump is expected to issue the order on Monday to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force US firms operating in China to turn over intellectual property, senior administration officials said on Saturday.

The move, which could eventually lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods, comes at a time when Trump has asked China to do more to crack down on North Koreas nuclear missile programme as he threatens possible military action against Pyongyang.

Trump has said he would treat Beijing more favourably if it were more aggressive in reining in North Korea.

In an editorial, the official China Daily said it was critical the Trump administration did not make a rash decision it would regret.

Given Trumps transactional approach to foreign affairs, it is impossible to look at the matter without taking into account his increasing disappointment at what he deems as Chinas failure to bring into line [North] Korea, the English-language paper said.

But instead of advancing the United States interests, politicising trade will only exacerbate the countrys economic woes, and poison the overall China-US relationship.

An administration official said diplomacy over North Korea and the potential trade probe were totally unrelated, saying the trade action was not a pressure tactic.

The China Daily said it was unfair for Trump to put the burden on China for dissuading Pyongyang from its actions.

By trying to incriminate Beijing as an accomplice in [North Koreas] nuclear adventure and blame it for a failure that is essentially a failure of all stakeholders, Trump risks making the serious mistake of splitting up the international coalition that is the means to resolve the issue peacefully, it said.

Hopefully Trump will find another path. Things will become even more difficult if Beijing and Washington are pitted against each other. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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