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Trump may take trade action against China

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Perceived stalling over trade, N. Korea frustrating him

WASHINGTON US President Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues.

As such, he is considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials said.

The officials said Mr Trump is looking at options including tariffs on steel imports, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said he is considering as part of a national security study of the US steel industry.

Whether Mr Trump would take any steps against China remains unclear as he has backed off from threats before.


And one senior official said no decision is expected this week.

Chinese steel is already subject to dozens of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy orders.

As a result, it has only a small share of the US market.

"What is guiding this is he ran to protect American industry and American workers," one of the US officials said, referring to Mr Trump's election promise last year to take a hard line on trade with China.

On North Korea, Mr Trump "feels like he gave China a chance to make a difference" but has not seen enough results.

The US has pressed China to exert more economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to help rein in its nuclear and missile programmes.

Beijing has repeatedly said that its influence on North Korea is limited and that it is doing all it can.

"They did a little, not a lot," the official said.

"And if (Mr Trump) is not going to get what he needs on that, he needs to move ahead on his broader agenda on trade and on North Korea."

The US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, who arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, spoke to reporters outside his residence yesterday and said the US hopes to collaborate with China.

"We need to work together to deal with some of the pressing, difficult issues, such as the threat from North Korea.

"We want to work together to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula," he said.

The death of American university student Otto Warmbier last week, after his release from 17 months of imprisonment in Pyongyang, has further complicated Mr Trump's approach to North Korea.

Mr Trump signalled his disappointment with China's efforts in a tweet last week.

He wrote: "While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out.

"At least I know China tried!" - REUTERS

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