Pandemic clouds US-China trade deal: Trump

Updated 15 May 2020

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In this June 29, 2019 photo, US president Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pose ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan.—Reuters
In this June 29, 2019 photo, US president Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping pose ahead of their bilateral meeting during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan.—Reuters

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the novel coronavirus, and that the worldwide pandemic had cast a pall over his trade deal with Beijing.

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December, was spreading as the United States and China signed a Phase 1 trade deal in January that was hailed by the Republican president as a major achievement.

“I’m very disappointed in China,” Trump said in an interview broadcast on Fox Business Network.

“They should have never let this happen. So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me,” he said.

The US president’s pique extended to Chinese President Xi Jinping, with whom, Trump has said repeatedly, he has a good relationship.

“But I just right now I don’t want to speak to him. I don’t want to speak to him,” Trump said.

Under the Phase 1 agreement, Beijing pledged to buy at least $200 billion in additional US goods and services over two years while Washington agreed to roll back tariffs on Chinese goods in stages.

A Chinese state-run newspaper has reported that some government advisers in Beijing were urging fresh talks and possibly invalidating the agreement.

Trump said again he was not interested in renegotiating.

Trump was asked about a Republican senator’s suggestion that US visas be denied to Chinese students applying to study in fields related to national security, such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

“There are many things we could do. We could do things. We could cut off the whole relationship,” he replied.

“Now, if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500bn if you cut off the whole relationship,” Trump said, referring to estimated US annual imports from China, which Trump often refers to as lost money.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2020