Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.
The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the USA and North Korea.
"Trade is trade, national security is national security", the official stated. In the meantime, it may help to satisfy President Trump's political promises to get tougher on countries that cheat the United States economically, following a series of setbacks and delays on ambitious trade measures floated by the administration in past months.
China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs.
If the investigation finds that China is harming USA companies, the Trump administration could respond by imposing tariffs, negotiating an agreement with China, or other measures, the officials said.
The president's trade action will be a long way from any punitive move against China, despite his and his advisors' open talk of Chinese "theft" and "stealing" of USA companies' intellectual property, which broadly includes technological innovations, film and other artistic products, industrial designs and military secrets.
President Trump on Monday will direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether to initiate a Section 301 investigation into China's intellectual property practices, according to senior administration officials.
Guam, a USA island territory in the West Pacific, is home to a joint military command. That finding reportedly came from a confidential US intelligence assessment.
"We would like to emphasize that the Chinese government has always attached importance to intellectual property protection", a spokesman said. "It's not going to continue like that", Trump said from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. "China's been engaged in the theft and forced transfer of US technologies and intellectual property for years. They know how I feel", he told reporters on Thursday.
"We lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year on trade with China".
The trade investigation is expected to be only one part of a multi-pronged push by the Trump administration to counter perceived Chinese trade abuses, which Trump frequently railed against as a candidate.