Taking on Beijing in areas such as intellectual property rights could lead to ‘a downward spiral’ in relations

Moves by Donald Trump to confront China on trade would elicit a “very aggressive” response, a former top US trade negotiator has predicted, as Beijing said an upcoming visit from the US president would help “map out” the next half century of ties between the world’s top two economies.

There has been speculation since last week that Trump – who is due to travel to China this year – is preparing to launch a potentially incendiary investigation into its alleged abuse of intellectual property rights.

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