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In a diplomatic gamble, Donald Trump mulls sanctions against China

Despite such a move, he expects China help while dealing with North Korea

Jane Perlez & Peter Baker | NYT  |  Beijing 

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

In a diplomatic gamble, President is seeking to enlist as a peacemaker in the bristling nuclear-edged dispute with at the very moment he plans to ratchet up conflict with Beijing over trade issues that have animated his political rise.

spoke late Friday with his counterpart, President of China, to press the Chinese to do more to rein in as it races toward development of long-range that could reach the United States. Xi sought to lower the temperature after Trump’s vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, urging restraint and a political solution.  But the conversation came as Trump’s administration was preparing new trade action against that could inflame the relationship. plans to return to Washington on Monday to sign a memo determining whether should be investigated for intellectual property violations, accusing Beijing of failing to curb the theft of trade secrets and rampant online and physical piracy and counterfeiting. An investigation would be intended to lead to retaliatory measures.

The had planned to take action on intellectual property earlier but held off as it successfully lobbied to vote at the for additional sanctions on a week ago. Even now, the extra step of determining whether to start the investigation is less than trade hawks might have wanted, but softens the blow to and gives a cudgel to hold over it if he does not get the cooperation he wants.

While past presidents have tried at least ostensibly to keep security and economic issues on separate tracks in their dealings with China, has explicitly linked the two, suggesting he would back off from a trade war against Beijing if it does more to pressure “If helps us, I feel a lot differently towards trade,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Top US general jets into Asia

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Monday amid escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme, according to an official with South Korea’s Blue House. The chairman of Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the deputy commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command and the head of Korea’s national security council will also attend, said the official, who asked not to be identified. Dunford, whose trip includes stops in Japan and China, arrived in Seoul on Sunday, the official said.

The visit to the region by President Donald Trump’s top military advisor underlines heightened tensions after a week in which North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and the US leader exchanged threats. China’s President told in a phone call that all sides should maintain restraint and avoid inflammatory comments.

© 2017 The New York Times News Service

First Published: Mon, August 14 2017. 02:04 IST