The Trump administration is considering whether to initiate an action that could lead to the United States imposing tariffs and other trade restrictions on Chinese imports.
U.S. news outlets say President Donald Trump will direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to begin an investigation of China's trade practices under a section of the 1974 Trade Act. The section is aimed at protecting U.S. industries from unfair trade practices of foreign countries.
Administration officials say a formal announcement could be made within the next several days.
President Trump and members of his economic team have long accused China of engaging in trade practices that have harmed American businesses, from excess steel imports to theft of intellectual properties.
In an opinion piece published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross accused China, as well as Europe, of subsidizing their exports through such means as “grants, low-cost loans, energy subsidies, special value-added tax refunds” and other means.
Despite its complaints, the Trump administration had emphasized cooperation with Beijing during its first six months in office. But bilateral trade talks last month failed to end with an agreement, and the administration has become increasingly frustrated with China's apparent reluctance to pressure North Korea to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.