The President plans to sign an executive memorandum on Monday, directing his top trade negotiator to determine whether to investigate China for harming intellectual property, innovation and technology, senior administration officials said.
"China's been engaged in the theft and forced transfer of USA technologies and intellectual property for years".
If Trump announces the investigation, it would come at a time Trump and members of his administration have called on China to do more to rein in North Korea amid recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
In 1962, as the United States and the Soviet Union wobbled toward nuclear confrontation, then-President John F. Kennedy got his predecessor on the phone. Trump has previously expressed frustration that China hasn't done more to economically punish North Korea.
The trade investigation could strain relations between the US and China as the two countries wrestle with the unpredictable situation over North Korea.
The comments came after Trump unleashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea on Friday, declaring the USA military "locked and loaded". "President Trump stated that the United States is ready, along with its allies, to apply the full range of diplomatic, economic, and military measures to achieve that goal", said a readout of the phone call.
It wasn't immediately clear how China would react to the move.
The investigation, which one United States official said could take as long as a year, may prove to be a source of leverage to push China to do more to help contain a rising security threat from North Korea, which counts Beijing as its only powerful ally.
Calling it "the responsibility of all", Macron called on the global community to "act in a concerted, firm and effective manner, as it has just done in the (U.N.) Security Council, to bring North Korea back to the path of dialogue".
The process Lighthizer will initiate, under Article 302b of the US Commercial Code, could take as long as a year to yield its findings. "The results are there for all to see".
Trump, now on a 17-day working summer vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, is returning to the White House for a day on Monday to sign this executive order directing the US Trade Representative to probe the matter.
The decision will not only take action against alleged Chinese violations of USA companies' intellectual property rights, but could also be perceived as an attempt by the US government to crank up the pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea.
Asked Friday if the US was going to war, he said cryptically, "I think you know the answer to that".
Trump wants government officials to look at Chinese practices that force American companies to share their intellectual property in order to gain access to the world's second largest economy.
In an editorial on Saturday, North Korea's Minju Joson newspaper said that the USA "finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK".