President Donald Trump has said he is “not interested” in reopening negotiations on the trade deal with China, days after the US warned Beijing of “very significant consequences” for not honouring the bilateral agreement early this year to end their bruising trade war.
Trump’s remarks came in response to a question on a report in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post which said that China would like to reopen negotiations on the trade deal to make the terms more favourable to Beijing.
“Is this something you’d be interested in doing?” he was asked.
“No. Not at all. Not even a little bit. No, I’m not interested. We signed the deal. I had heard that, too — they’d like to reopen the trade talk to make it a better deal for them,” Trump told reporters during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday.
China, Trump said, has been taking advantage of the US for many decades because his predecessors allowed that to happen. “No, I’m not interested in that. Let’s see if they live up to the deal that they signed,” he said.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on May 4 warned that if China does not honour the trade agreement, “there would be very significant consequences in the relationship and in the global economy as to how people would do business with them.”
Under the US-China trade deal signed in January, Beijing agreed to buy at least USD 200 billion more in US products and services in 2020-2021, the two-year period than it did in 2017.
However, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in a report said that China could invoke a clause in the agreement that allows for fresh trade consultations between the two countries “in the event of a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event”.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world, ravaging economies and increasing unemployment. The global health crisis has left a record 33 million workers jobless in the US.
According to the Johns Hopkins University data, over 4 million people are infected by the COVID-19 and more than 280,000 people have died worldwide. The US is the worst-affected country in the world with over 1.3 million infected cases and more than 80,000 deaths.
Responding to another question, Trump said that there was nothing new in the news reports that Chinese hackers are attempting to steal American technology related to vaccine research.
“So, what else is new with China? What else is new? Tell me. I’m not happy with China. They should have stopped this (spread of coronavirus) at the source. They could have stopped it right at the source. So now you’re telling me they’re hacking? So, I just say this: What else is new? We’re watching it very closely,” he said.
China has rejected the US allegations that it tried to cover up the COVID-19 cases. According to news reports, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are planning to issue a public warning about China’s attempts to steal research on coronavirus treatments.
“I’ve said it over and over again, there is something deeply suspicious about China’s role in this pandemic,” said Mike Rogers, House Homeland Security Committee ranking member.
“Now, China is trying to hack into our systems and to steal our information on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing. It’s outrageous and it’s corrupt. We must take all steps necessary to protect our intellectual property from getting into the wrong hands, and we must ensure that they have the necessary resources and authorities to do so,” Rogers said.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration on Monday asked the federal retirement funds to not to invest in the Chinese equities.