Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

President Trump has finally set gears in motion that could potentially lead to challenges to China’s trade practices, signing an executive memorandum Monday afternoon.

As reports over the weekend suggested, the move stopped short of launching an investigation. The memo amounts to a request to the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, to determine whether to launch an investigation,

The President appears to be pulling his punches with China for the time being, after he initially cancelled an announcement earlier in the month to launch the investigation, which would look into Chinese theft of intellectual property.

The hesitation is a hopeful sign that Trump will tread lightly, despite the loaded rhetoric, and comes as nationalist advisor Steve Bannon, widely seen as supportive of a tougher stance on China trade, is losing favor with the president.