U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to increase pressure on China to change its trade practices and do more to stop North Korea's weapons programs.
Reports by financial news media Thursday predicted Trump will sign an order in the coming days to open an investigation of Chinese demands that foreign companies share technology secrets in exchange for access to the massive Chinese market.
White House officials said no developments were expected Friday, as the original reports had indicated. The expected investigation could lead to higher tariffs on Chinese-made products headed for the U.S. market, which is the world's largest.
Trade experts warned such actions might violate commitments the United States has made to the World Trade Organization. Nevertheless, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recently criticized China's trade practices, including forced technology transfer, as unfair measures that hurt U.S. exports and contribute to a $347 billion trade deficit in China's favor.
As a presidential candidate, Trump denounced China's trade policies. He also has said that China, as North Korea's neighbor and major trading partner, could do far more to stop Pyongyang's efforts to improve nuclear weapons and missiles. U.S. experts have warned that North Korea's missile tests and nuclear development efforts pose an increasing threat to the United States and many other nations.
Trump's tough stance on trade issues helped him win support from working-class voters who believe they have lost jobs due to unfair foreign competition. His approach was a break with the Republican Party's traditional pro-trade and pro-business stance. The president's opponents in the Democratic Party have accused him recently of talking tough about trade issues but failing to take effective action.
Steve Herman at the White House contributed to this report.