US President Donald Trump talks to China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Philippe Wojazer

The Trump administration is making efforts to enlist the European Union and Japan in a battle to challenge what all three have separately described as unfair Chinese trade practices, the Financial Times reports.

Officials from the EU and Japan have stated they will not work with the US on the issue if Washington decides to work outside of the WTO framework. However, both countries have indicated they would consider joining Trump if his challenge to China’s trade practices results in cases brought to the WTO.

Companies from the European Union and Japan have raised the same concerns as their US counterparts of Chinese IP theft, hacking and industrial espionage, as well as frustration with rules that force technology transfer through the formation of JVs.

It is unclear whether the White House would be willing, or able, to work through the WTO on these issues. The administration’s top trade official, Robert Lighthizer, has been outspoken in his contention that the organization is not equipped to challenge China’s trade practices.

“The WTO and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, were not designed to successfully manage mercantilism on this scale,” he said last week in Washington.

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