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turns on China with probe into intellectual theft

Frustrated over China's inability to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program, the administration is weighing plans to punish China for failing to crack down on intellectual property thefts and forcing U.S. and foreign companies to share their technology in return for access to the vast Chinese market.

That's according to two people familiar with the discussion, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans have not been made public.

The administration is considering invoking the rarely used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which empowers Washington to investigate Chinese trade practices and impose sanctions, including tariffs, within months, according to one of those people.

The New York Times said Tuesday that the probe was set to go forward and could be announced in the next couple days. 

Frustrated over China's inability to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program, the Trump administration is weighing plans to punish China for failing to crack down on intellectual property thefts and forcing U.S. and foreign companies to share their technology in return for access to the vast Chinese market 

Frustrated over China's inability to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program, the administration is weighing plans to punish China for failing to crack down on intellectual property thefts and forcing U.S. and foreign companies to share their technology in return for access to the vast Chinese market 

The investigation would focus on China's alleged forced technology transfer policies and practices, one of the people said, adding that the administration could move to launch such a probe this week.

U.S. and other Western governments and business groups accuse Beijing of unfairly nurturing Chinese competitors - in fields ranging from medical equipment to renewable energy to electric cars - by requiring foreign firms to hand over proprietary technologies in exchange for being allowed to operate in China.

American companies have long complained that Chinese competitors steal their technology and use it to compete against them. Being forced to hand over technology to gain access to the Chinese market adds to the risk.

China's Ministry of Commerce did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

These deliberations come as the administration has signaled a harsher stance on trade than it took in the first six months of 's presidency when it comes to China.

The probe was set to go forward and could be announced in the next couple days, sources said

The probe was set to go forward and could be announced in the next couple days, sources said

President Donald temporarily set aside complaints about market access and currency when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in April in hopes Beijing would help pressure North Korea to end its nuclear weapons development. 

But tensions bubbled up last month at a U.S.-Chinese dialogue where U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin blamed China's $347 billion trade surplus with the United States last year on 'government intervention in its economy.'

has also grown increasingly

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