US President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to meet this month in Buenos Aires. Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

The top trade authority in the US has already completed a draft report on a probe into unfair Chinese trade practices, sources say, in a signal that the Trump administration is moving fast on the issue.

The Section 301 investigation into Chinese IP theft and forced technology transfers has an entire year to conclude an investigation. But sources told Politico’s Morning Trade that the draft is already being shared with the interagency committee overseeing the investigation after just over 100 days.

US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has stressed that the US is prepared to carry out unilateral trade action should China fail to reform practices the Office of the USTR deems to unfairly hurt American firms.

The looming confrontation between the Trump administration and Beijing on trade comes as China is dragging its feet, or outright refusing, to step up any additional sanctions on North Korea, despite Trump’s insistence last week that such a move is imminent.

Clearly China is worried about the escalating tensions between the US and China on trade and North Korea, as it has reportedly dispatched a senior diplomat on a “firefighting” mission to Washington.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zheng Zeguang arrived in DC on Wednesday, according to seasoned China watcher Bill Bishop at Axios, who cited a “knowledgeable source.”

Bishop noted both Senator Lindsey Graham and National Security Advisor HR McMaster’s recent comments that the US is leaning towards military action in North Korea, as well as the above Politico report as developments prompting concern in Beijing.

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