President Donald Trump said on July 10 that he was not considering negotiating a “phase two” trade deal with the Chinese regime, as relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated over the pandemic and other issues.
Trump, asked by reporters aboard Air Force One about the possibility of a second phase trade deal, said, “I don’t think about it now,” adding that he had many other things on his mind.
“The relationship with China has been severely damaged. They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped it. They didn’t stop it,” Trump said.
The two countries signed a phase one agreement earlier this year, wherein Beijing pledged to buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods and services over the next two years. Trade data up until May, however, showed that China was not on track to meet its purchase commitments.
Since the deal, the Trump administration has ramped up pressure on Beijing over its mishandling of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak, intensifying control over Hong Kong, and rights abuses against ethnic Uyghur minorities.
The United States on July 9 sanctioned four Chinese officials over their role in the suppression of Uyghur Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. Among those sanctioned were the Xinjiang region’s Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who became the highest-ranking Chinese official to be hit with U.S. sanctions.
From May, the administration also began the process of eliminating Hong Kong’s special trading status under U.S. law, due to Beijing imposing a national security law over the territory, marking an end to the city’s autonomy. A new bill unanimously approved by Congress to sanction entities that aid the regime’s abuse of Hong Kong’s freedoms has been sent to Trump for signature. But the White House has not indicated when or if the veto-proof bill will be signed.
The U.S. state department last month announced that it may deny entry to Chinese officials, as well as their families, involved in crushing freedoms and rights in Hong Kong.
In recent weeks, senior officials have ratcheted up their rhetoric against the CCP, in what observers said was a growing resolve within the administration to push back against the threats posed by the Chinese regime. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the United States would no longer be passive in dealing with the CCP, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray described the regime‘s intellectual property theft and malign activities in the United States as the “greatest long-term threat” to the country.
Reuters contributed to this report.