Sunday papers reported extensively that President Trump is expected to issue instructions to the USTR shortly on launching an investigation based on Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act into China’s trade practices. The papers speculated that the move is intended to step up pressure on Beijing so as to force it to rein in North Korea. The Trump administration may impose punitive tariffs on Chinese imports if the probe identifies intellectual property rights violations by the Chinese. While taking up the disclosure by an unnamed senior USG official on Saturday that the USTR will begin a preliminary probe to see whether a full-fledged investigation is necessary, most Monday papers expressed qualms about a possible trade war between the two economic giants based on the view that China is bound to take countermeasures if the U.S. applies punitive tariffs on Chinese products.
Sunday papers also took up a teleconference held on Friday between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi, at which the two leaders agreed that North Korea must halt its provocative behavior immediately. The Chinese leader also cautioned President Trump against resorting to military means, calling for a “political settlement” of the standoff with the DPRK.