President Trump’s ‘America First’ approach has relied on slapping tariffs on countries, such as China and Mexico, which have led to current trade wars. What is a tariff and how do they work? We explain.
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WASHINGTON – China appeared Thursday to sidestep the idea of another meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping – and threatened more retaliation if the U.S. follows through with new tariffs on their exports.
“China will have to take the necessary countermeasures,” said a translated statement from China’s Ministry of Finance.
Trump, meanwhile, suggested instead that Xi meet “directly and personally” with the protesters in Hong Kong, saying that could lead to “a happy and enlightened ending” to the problems in that city.
The president also, again, defended his tariff policy toward China, though economists say they triggered the ongoing trade war that has roiled global markets and threaten a recession.
The Chinese have also objected to Trump’s comments about Hong Kong, calling it an internal manner that is none of the president’s business.
As for the suggestion that Trump meet with Xi to discuss Hong Kong and possibly trade, China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “Regarding high-level communication, the Chinese and US Presidents have remained in contact with each other via meetings, phone calls and letters.”
Trump had tweeted Wednesday night about “a personal meeting” amid massive declines in financial markets, the result of anxious investors worried about the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, as well as the Chinese crackdown on anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
‘Personal meeting?’: Trump seeks one-on-one with China’s Xi Jinping over Hong Kong, trade
“I know President Xi of China very well,” Trump tweeted. “He is a great leader who very much has the respect of his people. He is also a good man in a ‘tough business.’ I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?”
Amid a market slump, Trump has defended his tariff policy toward China and instead sought to put the blame on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies.
Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced it would delay until Dec. 15 tariffs on Chinese goods that were supposed to go into effect in September. Trump said he made the move to prevent his tit-for-tat tariff war from having an impact on the holiday shopping period in the U.S., a tacit recognition that the trade battle could affect U.S. consumers.
Still, in the second major sell-off this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday lost 800 points, or 3.05%, the worst percentage drop of the year.
In a series of tweets and statements, Trump said previous tariffs on products on China have hurt its economy, and made the government more eager to strike a new free trade agreement with the United States. The two nations have held on-and-off talks over the past year, but have been unable to strike a deal.
Many economists say U.S. consumers are the ones who wind up paying for the tariffs, slowing economic growth and hamstringing markets.
“President Trump’s on-again, off-again tweets about new tariffs on Chinese imports have been dizzying,” said Chad Bown, senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “They have generated turmoil in financial markets and understandable confusion among consumers.”
The prospect of Chinese military action in Hong Kong, a major financial center, has also rattled the markets.
Trump, who has been reticent about the turmoil in Hong Kong, cited it in his offer to meet Xi.
In apparently rejecting that idea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Chunying repeated Trump’s own words about the Hong Kong tensions.
“Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs,” the China spokesman said. “As we noted, President Trump also said previously that ‘Hong Kong is a part of China. They’ll have to deal with that themselves. They don’t need advice.’ We hope the US side will keep its word.”
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