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President Trump will give a speech at the White House on Friday, and will sign a memo directing his trade representative to go after Chinese theft of intellectual property and the way U.S. companies are forced to share technology with Chinese firms, as Axios scooped yesterday. Administration officials say Trump is doing this because of complaints he's heard from Silicon Valley executives saying Chinese IP theft is one of their biggest challenges (Peter Thiel was involved in crafting this new step).

What happens next: About a week after Trump's announcement, the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, is expected to announce that he's initiating an investigation into unfair Chinese trade practices — using a rarely-used tool, section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The investigation paves the path to the U.S. taking potentially aggressive retaliatory actions against China such as tariffs on Chinese imports or rescinding licenses for Chinese companies wanting to do business in the U.S.

Context: Chinese IP theft has long been an issue for some tech companies like Microsoft. It's also a major issue for agriculture and manufacturing - and any sector that has proprietary information related to their production practices. U.S. administrations and companies have been wary about publicly confronting the Chinese government, preferring to do things behind closed doors and in a more diplomatic approach.

Our thought bubble: Chinese IP theft has long been an issue for tech companies, particularly among software and semiconductor makers. At a minimum, going after China for these abuses can be something the tech community and Trump can agree on. But there are still big differences, particularly on immigration. For tech there is also risk of what actions China takes in response. They are both an important market for companies like Apple and the main manufacturing center for all sorts of tech hardware.

What's next: This is the opening salvo in several months of trade actions, and is expected to be followed by actions on steel and aluminum dumping — which could include tariffs and quotas — and subsequent measures to protect services.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
37 mins ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter is a test for the future of space exploration

Ingenuity (left) with Perseverance on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is set to fly the first test flight of its tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars Sunday, marking the advent of drones for space exploration.

Why it matters: If successful, this flight will be the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.