US President Donald Trump told Reuters reporters in an interview Wednesday that he was considering a big “fine” as part of the ongoing investigation into China’s alleged intellectual property theft, in another sign that the US is looking to escalate tensions with China over trade.
“We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon,” Trump said in the interview. Both the president and his economic adviser Gary Cohn also claimed that China had forced US companies to transfer their intellectual property to the Asian country in order to do business there.
The US is currently conducting a trade investigation into the issue, and the United States Trade Representative will be making recommendations about it soon, according to Cohn.
The 1974 trade law that authorizes such an investigation also gives the president the power to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods and other trade sanctions in order to force China to change its policies. Trump did not elaborate on what form the “fine” would take or the specific figures involved, but he insisted that the damage to China would be high.
“We’re talking about big damages. We’re talking about numbers that you haven’t even thought about,” Trump said.
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