US President Donald Trump on Thursday renewed his threat to cut ties with China, a day after the countries two top diplomats held talks and his trade representative said he did not consider decoupling the economies of the United States and China a viable option.
The top US diplomat for East Asia described US-China relations as “tense” after their first high-level face-to-face diplomatic talks in months, although he said Beijing did recommit to the first part of a trade deal reached this year and that the coming weeks would show if there had been progress.
Trump has made rebalancing the enormous US trade deficit with China a priority, but relations have worsened as his campaign for re-election in November heats up, Al Jazeera reported.
On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to clarify his position after trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, spoke at a House of Representatives committee.
“The US certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China,” he wrote.
“It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, but the US certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!,” Trump said in a tweet.
Lighthizer told the committee on Wednesday that he did not see that as viable.
“Do I think that you can sit down and decouple the United States economy from the Chinese economy?” he said. “No, I think that was a policy option years ago. I don’t think it’s a … reasonable policy option at this point.”
His office had no immediate comment on Trump’s tweet.
US-China relations have reached their lowest point in years since the coronavirus pandemic that began in China late last year. The US has been hit hard, and Trump and his administration have repeatedly accused Beijing of not being transparent about the outbreak.