China trade deal might have to wait for 2020 election: Trump

Reuters . London | Published: 00:00, Dec 04,2019

 
 

A file photo shows US president Donald Trump meeting with China’s president Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan. — Reuters photo

US president Donald Trump said that a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the US presidential election in November 2020, denting hopes of a quick resolution to the dispute which has weighed on the world economy.

‘I have no deadline, no. In some ways I think I think it’s better to wait until after the election with China,’ Trump told reporters in London where he was due to attend a meeting of NATO leaders.

‘But they want to make a deal now, and we’ll see whether or not the deal’s going to be right, it’s got to be right.’

On Monday, Trump said that US legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong did not make trade negotiations with China easier, but added that he believed Beijing still wanted a deal with the United States.

However, Trump said on Tuesday that a deal with China would only happen if he wanted it to, and he thought he was doing very well in the talks.

‘I’m doing very well on a deal with China, if I want to make it,’ he said. ‘I don’t think it’s up to if they want to make it, it’s if I want to make it. We’ll see what happens.’

European share prices and the Chinese yuan currency fell on Trump’s latest comments.

Washington and Beijing have yet to ink a so-called ‘phase one’ trade agreement announced in October, which had raised hopes of a de-escalation in their prolonged trade war.

Investors have been hoping that the United States and China can avert an escalation of their trade tensions which have slowed global economic growth.

Chinese president Xi Jinping said last month that he wanted to work out a trade deal with Washington, but broader bilateral tensions had flared amid US legislative action supporting Hong Kong’s protesters, and targeting camps for Uighur ethnic minorities in the western region of Xinjiang.

Trump last week signed a new law backing protesters in Hong Kong and threatened China with possible sanctions on human rights. Beijing in response barred US military vessels and aircraft from visiting Hong Kong and sanctioned several US non-government organisations. News site Axios also reported on Sunday the Hong Kong law stalled the trade deal.

Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the official People’s Daily newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, tweeted Tuesday that Beijing will soon release its so-called unreliable entities list imposing sanctions against those who harm China’s interests.

The paper said that China was expediting the process for the list because the US House was expected to pass a bill on Xinjiang that would ‘harm Chinese firms’ interests’, and that ‘relevant’ US entities would be part of Beijing’s list.

The US Senate in September passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019, a bill that calls on China to end what it calls ‘arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment’ of Uighurs and other ethnic Muslim minorities. The bill is being considered by the US House of Representatives.

Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin also tweeted separately on Tuesday that China could ban all US diplomatic passport holders from visiting Xinjiang and may also impose visa restrictions against US parliament members and officials with ‘odious performance’ on Xinjiang. He did not say how he obtained this information.

When asked to comment on the claim, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying repeated comments she made on Monday that China would implement further measures according to how the situation develops.

‘The determination of China’s government to oppose foreign forces interfering in China’s internal affairs is firm and unshakable,’ said Hua, speaking at a news briefing in Beijing on Tuesday.

The US embassy in Beijing declined to comment on the reports of possible Chinese government action.

Experts and people close to the White House have said that a China-US trade agreement might not be signed until next year. But White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House on Monday that the deal was still possible before the end of the year.

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross cited a further 15 per cent US tariff on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports set to take effect December 15 as a natural deadline, and said time was running out for China to avoid it.

‘If nothing happens between now and then, the president has made quite clear he’ll put the tariffs in,’ Ross told Fox Business Network.

Asked if the Trump administration was willing to roll back current tariffs on China, Ross added: ‘It all depends on their behaviour between now and then.’

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