President Donald Trump threatened to raise tariffs on China again if President Xi Jinping doesn’t meet with him at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that he could impose tariffs of 25%, or “much higher than 25%” on $300 billion in Chinese goods. “We’ve never gotten 10 cents from China and now we’re getting a lot of money from China,” the president said.
Trump was asked in an interview with CNBC earlier in the day whether the additional tariffs would be enacted immediately if there’s no meeting at the summit later this month.
“Yes, it would,” he answered. “I think he will go and I think we’re scheduled to have a meeting. I think he’ll go, and I have a great relationship with him. He’s actually an incredible guy, he’s a great man. He’s very strong, very smart, but he’s for China and I’m for the United States.”
Trade talks with China hit an impasse last month after the president accused Beijing of reneging on provisions of a tentative agreement. The two countries have since escalated their trade war.
“China is going to make a deal because they’re going to have to make a deal,” Trump said Monday.
The Shanghai stock market opened higher on Tuesday and rose about 1% as of 10:30 am. The yuan was stronger on Tuesday.
Trump again suggested that an eventual trade deal could involve Huawei Technologies Co. The Trump administration is campaigning to block the company from emerging 5G telecommunications networks around the world and has moved to cut off Huawei from U.S. suppliers, citing national security concerns.
“I do see it as a threat,” he said Monday. “At the same time it could be very well that we do something with respect to Huawei as part of our trade negotiation with China. China very much wants to make a deal. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we’ll see what happens.”
When asked whether U.S. actions against Huawei could set the U.S. back on 5G, Trump said “No.”
The U.S. is “actually going to be leading very shortly. You know, we’re leading in everything.” he said. Of China, he said: “As great as they are — and they are great — they don’t have near the capability of our geniuses in Silicon Valley that walk around in undershirts and they’re worth $2 billion.”
But by consistently linking the company to trade talks, Trump has suggested his aim is to stunt China’s growth as an economic rival to the U.S.
“Huawei is very powerful, very strong,” he said in the interview. He said that he wants China to do well, but that “I don’t want them to do as well as us.”
Trump’s reversal on a threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico over migration from Central America lifted the mood at the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in Fukuoka, Japan, over the weekend. But the U.S. delegation left without any significant breakthrough on China. Trump is scheduled to meet both Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 leaders’ summit in Osaka.
Of the tentative meeting with Xi, Trump said: “We’re expected to meet and if we do that’s fine, and if we don’t — look, from our standpoint the best deal we can have is 25% on $600 billion.”
Trump added: “If we don’t have a deal and don’t make a deal, we’ll be raising the tariffs, putting tariffs on more than — we only tax 35% to 40% of what they said then they had another 60% that’ll be taxed.”
For some Chinese experts, this sounds again like threat and trick. ‘Trump wants to use maximum pressure to force China to come back to the negotiation table. And if there’s no meeting between the two leaders, Trump will put the blame on China,’ said Zhou Xiaoming, former Mofcom official and diplomat. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a fax seeking a response to Trump’s comments.
If Trump carries out his threat to extend the 25% charge to all imports from China, it will start hitting vital communication tools and everyday consumer goods.