WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of “completely” decoupling the American economy from China as tensions between the economic giants continue.
In a video excerpt for Fox News for an interview airing today, Trump initially told interviewer Steve Hilton “we don’t have to” do business with China, and then later said about decoupling: “Well it’s something that if they don’t treat us right I would certainly, I would certainly do that.”
Trump entered into a high-stakes trade war with China before reaching a partial Phase 1 trade deal in January. Trump has since shut the door on Phase 2 negotiations, saying he was unhappy with Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.
In June US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a decoupling of the US and Chinese economies will result if US companies are not allowed to compete on a fair and level basis in China’s economy.
Earlier this month Trump had said his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping had frayed in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic and that he has not spoken to his Chinese counterpart in a long time.
“I used to have a very good relationship with him,” Trump told Fox Sports Radio in an interview, citing their Phase One trade deal hammered out last year and signed in early 2020. “I had a great relationship with President Xi. I like him, but I don’t feel the same way now.”
Trump said his feelings changed amid COVID-19.
“I certainly feel differently. I had a very, very good relationship, and I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.”
Trump, who is seeking re-election in the November 3 US election, made challenging China a key part of his 2016 presidential campaign and touted his friendly ties with Xi during much of his first term in office as he sought to make good on his trade deal promises.
But he said that the fallout from the outbreak was worse than the conflict over trade. “This is a thousand times the trade deal what happened with all of the death and … the world had to shutdown. It’s a disgrace,” he told Fox.
US-China ties have also frayed over Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong and the disputed South China Sea, among other issues.