The US president, who has long accused China of cyber-enabled espionage and IP theft, has demanded the exodus of American companies from Chinese soil – but observers are calling the idea “unrealistic”.

Donald Trump’s decision to order American companies via Twitter to find markets other than China was met with many sneers and jabs, but the US president insists he has the power to issue such instructions.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that he “hereby ordered” the companies to quit doing business in China and relocate their production to the United States.

“We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them,” he wrote.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making your products in the USA.”

His move has unnerved investors, causing a rapid dive in stocks and oil prices.

But many are questioning whether Trump has the tools to take legal action and compel private companies to stop operations in China.

Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, quipped: “As long as we are claiming constitutional powers we don’t have, I hereby order the President to stop tweeting.”

The hashtag #Ihearbyorder quickly started trending on Twitter, with users demanding all kinds of things – sometimes even unrelated to Trump

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