THE UNITED STATES called off the bilateral trade talks that were scheduled for this past weekend, US President Donald Trump says, because he did not “want to talk to China right now”.
The talks were the first slated of the routine top-level biannual status reviews of the US-China Phase One Trade Deal signed in January, but Beijing reportedly wanted to include the Trump administration’s orders prospectively banning TikTok and WeChat in the United States.
The planned video conference call between Vice Premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would also have taken place immediately ahead of the United States announcing further punitive restrictions on Huawei Technologies.
That would have made ‘right now’ particularly awkward. The video call has been postponed indefinitely.
So far, China has continued to display restraint in response, as it has done in the face of repeated provocations by Washington. The foreign ministry’s spokesperson has said there would be more information on the talks in due course.
A collapse of the trade deal would snuff out what is just about the only glimmer of light in the relationship. This became much darker with the new export control measures announced on Monday designed to cut off Huawei’s supply of semiconductors.
The US president’s response to whether he would pull the United States out of the trade deal was, “we’ll see what happens”. Scarcely reassuring.