In a video excerpt, Trump initially told interviewer Steve Hilton “we don’t have to” do business with China, and then later said about decoupling, “Well it’s something that if they don’t treat us right I would certainly, I would certainly do that.”
Trump entered into a high-stakes trade war with China before reaching a partial Phase 1 trade deal in January. Trump has since shut the door on Phase 2 negotiations, saying he was unhappy with Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
In June U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies will result if U.S. companies are not allowed to compete on a fair and level basis in China’s economy.
The Trump administration has recently ratcheted up rhetoric and actions against the regime on multiple fronts including on Beijing’s mishandling of the CCP virus outbreak, its crackdown on Hong Kong, and Chinese firms posing security risks. It has also enacted measures targeting threats stemming from Beijing, ranging from intellectual property (IP) theft to security risks posed by Chinese telecom giant Huawei.
The pandemic has also prompted the administration to accelerate plans to remove critical supply chains out of China, as the public health crisis has exposed the pitfalls of the United States’ dependency on the country as a manufacturing base. Trump signed an executive order on Aug. 6 in Clyde, Ohio, to ensure that essential medicines, medical supplies, and equipment are made in the United States.
Trump and U.S. officials have been strident in their criticism of Beijing over its coverup of the CCP virus outbreak, which has caused the global spread of the disease. In May, the president indicated the United States “could cut off the whole relationship” with China.
In May, the administration also directed the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB)—the independent body that oversees the pension fund for federal employees and military members—to halt plans to invest in stocks of Chinese companies that pose national security and human rights concerns. The FRTIB, in response, announced it would delay the investment move.
Reuters and Epoch Times reporter Cathy He contributed to this report.