US President Donald Trump’s linking of his coronavirus blame game with the phase one trade deal is a dangerous development which could push China to its limit.
Trump on Wednesday tweeted, “We just made a great trade deal, the ink was barely dry, and the world was hit by the plague from China. 100 trade deals wouldn’t make up the difference – and all those innocent lives lost!”
The president may want to sound like he is concerned about lives during this public health crisis, but the mention of the trade deal has revealed his actual motive: to continue his China-bashing game in pursuit of greater interests.
The US criticizing China and forcing it to offer concessions on trade is an old trick. But China won’t give in to US pressure in the form of groundless accusations or investigations into the “origin and spread” of the COVID-19 outbreak. The origin of the virus is a scientific question, not a political one. Slandering China for the virus’ origin is baseless and immoral.
Calling the coronavirus pandemic “the plague from China” and linking it to trade relations are misguided actions that could lead irrational and illogical voices to dominate public opinion. Washington’s attitude toward China has grown tougher these days, perhaps because the Trump administration thinks China’s ability to retaliate is limited, so the US intentionally allowed bilateral relations to be jeopardized.
Yet, no matter how the US exerts economic pressure on China, China will respond in the same way. China has plenty of countermeasures in its toolbox, and it is up to the US to make the choice. If the US continues to announce restrictions suppressing Chinese companies, China may take countermeasures against similar companies of equal importance to the US economy, such as putting those companies on a list of unreliable entities.
China has been trying its best to prevent and control the COVID-19 spread and honor the phase one trade deal. The country has been making efforts to implement the phase one trade deal despite the coronavirus’ shock to its economy. This week, China issued a new list of 79 US products that will be excluded from punitive tariffs. Moreover, customs data indicates China purchased 35.56 billion yuan ($5.05 billion) worth of farm goods from the US in the first quarter, up 110 percent year-on-year. And Chinese buyers have purchased more than 1 million tons of US soybeans in the past two weeks, according to a Bloomberg report.
China-US tensions have entered a complicated stage, and further muddling trade relations through a COVID-19 blame game could lead to renewed uproar, increasing the uncertainty surrounding the trade deal. Trump would be wise not to sabotage the agreement before the deal falls apart and unintended consequences arise.