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Trump Threatens to Sever US-China Ties After First Day of High-Level Talks

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China USA Decoupling

After the first day of high-level bilateral talks between the United States and China, where US trade representative Robert Lighthizer stated he did not consider decoupling the US and Chinese economies “a viable option,” President Donald Trump renewed his threat to cut ties with the country.

In a tweet sent out earlier this morning, Trump said that “It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, but the U.S. certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!” Lighthizer has yet to issue a response to the tweet.

It may be recalled that during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, the Trump administration has called out China for its non-transparency about the outbreak. In addition, the US has expressed its concern over the former’s security movements in its Hong Kong territories, which recently passed a law criminalizing any mockery of the Chinese national anthem. During the morning of the talks, the US President signed legislation calling for sanctions for the treatment of Uighur Muslims. Previously, Trump has mulled over plans to eliminate special treatment status for Hong Kong.

US Assistant Secretary of state at the East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau David Stilwell, who attended the meeting, said on Thursday that while China had recommitted to the phase one trade deal, the Chinese side “could not be described as really forthcoming.”

Meanwhile, China has stated that the bilateral trade talks were “constructive,” but its Foreign Ministry communicated that Washington needs to “respect Beijing’s positions on key issues and halt its interference in matters such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang while working to repair relations.” The country has reiterated its commitment to the trade talks: honoring its pledge to purchase more US goods and address intellectual property concerns in exchange for less US tariffs on Chinese products. It also committed to helping convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

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