"I think China can do a lot more", Trump told reporters on Thursday.
The United States has previously complained at the WTO about Chinese trade policies, including its "Made in China 2025" initiative, which seeks to have Chinese-made materials account for 70 percent of manufacturing inputs within the next eight years.
CNN also reported that Trump told Chinese President Xi Jinping about the expected executive action in a phone call on Friday. The officials said this matter, and the trade issue, are not connected.
"If China helps us, I feel a lot different toward trade".
The President will call on his chief trade advisor, Robert Lighthizer, to open an investigation into China's intellectual property practices on Monday.
Trump had been expected to order a so-called Section 301 investigation under the 1974 Trade Act earlier this month, but action had been postponed as the White House pressed for China's cooperation in reining in North Korea's nuclear program.
It's unclear whether any actual repercussions for China, like sanctions or tariffs, would come from an investigation like this, and officials said there is no timeline for how long an investigation would take.More news: Morgan Stanley Upgrades Physicians Realty Trust (NYSE:DOC) to "Equal Weight"
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"President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour", the White House said in a statement. But trade and national security experts widely noted that the trade announcement appeared to have been delayed until after China joined the United States in voting for sanction against North Korea at a United Nations Security Council session on August 5.
"The United States government can, and does, work with countries to address serious concerns such as North Korea while also pursuing measures to address economic concerns, such as the theft of U.S. intellectual property", a U.S. National Security Council official said. "They should not be forced to turn over the fruits of their labor".
In a background briefing with reporters on Saturday, White House officials pointed to frustration from USA businesses that they have to share intellectual property with China as a condition for doing business in the country.
The administration is likely eager to make progress on trade, one of Trump's biggest campaign issues, after a recent series of legislative setbacks, trade experts said.
The process can bypass World Trade Organization procedures for adjudicating grievances.
Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions to protect USA industries from "unfair trade practices" of foreign countries, such as trade agreement violations, or "discriminatory" actions that burden United States commerce. Instead, he is leading the administration is dusting off a variety of powerful and unilateral measures under USA trade law, many of which the United States stopped using after the creation of the WTO, which has its own mechanisms to settle trade disputes. The technology sector has been especially hard hit in IP disputes.
"This is a critical action, and long overdue", said Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.