Trump Says He Postponed Trade Talks With China

August 18, 2020 Updated: August 19, 2020

President Donald Trump said that he’s postponed trade talks with China and that he doesn’t want to talk to officials in Beijing right now.

The president said, “We’ll see what happens,” when asked at an event in Yuma, Arizona, on Aug. 18 if he will pull out of the deal with China.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He were to meet to discuss the U.S.–China phase one trade deal, signed in January, but the meeting via video conference, scheduled for Aug. 22, was canceled indefinitely as of Aug. 14, according to reports.

The phase one agreement (pdf) requires Beijing to import $200 billion worth of additional U.S. goods and services over the next two years. Trade data for just the first quarter shows that China is far behind the pace necessary to meet its purchase target.

For example, China has to import at least $80 billion in U.S. agricultural products over the next two years. But in the first three months, China bought only $5.1 billion worth of farm products.

Trump has repeatedly voiced disappointment over China’s purchases and threatened to “terminate” the deal if Beijing fails to follow through on its promises.

Tensions between the world’s two largest economies reescalated in recent months due to China’s failure to fulfill its purchase targets in the trade agreement, which went into effect in mid-February, as well as the Beijing regime’s mishandling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak.

The Trump administration has been extremely critical of the Chinese regime’s efforts to contain the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

The administration has also expressed disapproval of Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong. The law criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

In July, Trump signed an executive order that ended the United States’ preferential treatment of Hong Kong, to hold China accountable for its oppressive actions against Hongkongers. He also signed into law a measure that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials and entities responsible for ending Hong Kong’s freedoms, as well as banks that do business with them.

Reuters and Emel Akan contributed to this report.

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