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Trump threatens decoupling from China amid talks

US President Donald Trump has stated that the US may completely decouple its economy from China's, which adds further fuel to the fire of US-Sino tensions. Is there another complete Cold War on the horizon?

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US President Donald Trump threatened decoupling of the United States from China, maintaining that he had the option to separate from China’s deeply intertwined economy, despite the powers’ pledges to move forward on a trade deal. This announcement has been construed as a set-back to the already heated talks between the two powers, where both sides are not allowing the other any wiggle space.

The US “certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!” Trump tweeted.

Trump threatens decoupling from China despite advice 

He wrote that he was responding to comments by his trade representative Robert Lighthizer, who has been at the forefront of trade war negotiations with Beijing.

Lighthizer told a congressional committee on Wednesday that China so far has been living up to the terms of a “phase one” agreement that eased the dispute, but that decoupling the two economic giants was now impossible.

“That was a policy option years ago, but I don’t think it’s a policy or reasonable policy option at this point,” Lighthizer said.

Read more: Trump sanctions China over Uighurs

Lighthizer described himself as a hardliner on China policy, and outlined the Trump administration’s plans to “reset” the World Trade Organization, largely so that it can better rein in Beijing’s policies which he says run afoul of free trade rules.

But his admission that the world’s two largest economies are inextricably linked, despite Trump’s aggressive campaign to push American firms to relocate production to the United States, caused some angst in Republican circles.

Trump tried to let his trade official off the hook.

Trump threatens decoupling from China: makes himself ‘clear’

“It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.”

Trump in January signed the “phase one” of a trade deal aimed at ending a trade war in which he has slapped tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese products.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a senior Chinese official also confirmed to him Beijing’s commitment to phase one, which includes China stepping up purchases of US products.

Read more: Hong Kong lawmakers vote Chinese security law despite strong condemnation

Pompeo met Wednesday in Hawaii with Yang Jiechi, a veteran maker of Chinese foreign policy, in Hawaii to discuss soaring tensions.

Besides trade, the United States has sharply criticized China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an upcoming security law in Hong Kong and its mass detention of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.

Senior US diplomat David Stilwell, who accompanied Pompeo, said the United States insisted on a “more reciprocal” relationship but declined to discuss the discussions in depth.

“Whether or not they were productive or not, I will look at what comes up in the next couple of weeks. You’ll see a reduction in aggressive behavior or not,” Stilwell told reporters.

“If they come to the table with a reasonable proposal, the US is obviously going to treat it reasonably and look for ways to work toward a positive outcome.”

US-China talks in Hawaii: the developments so far

The United States on Wednesday pressed China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims and Hong Kong as the two powers stood firm in high-level talks in Hawaii on soaring tensions. The US-China clash continues, as both powers are offering no wiggle space to the other in negotiations, with each side claiming that it is right in the many disputes that litter the pages of Sino-American relationship.

Read more: US-China clash continues as top officials meet in Hawaii

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi at a Honolulu military base, in the two countries’ highest-level meeting since the coronavirus pandemic sent tensions skyrocketing, a State Department official said.

They met away from media as excerpts came out from an explosive memoir by former US national security advisor John Bolton, who said President Donald Trump asked President Xi Jinping for assistance in his re-election.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk



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