Trade Deal Boost as Virus Stalks China and US Relations

The US and China made moves to implement the trade deal aiming to ease their troubled relations, even as the new coronavirus spread in China. Xi Jinping told Donald Trump early in the month that China’s economic development would not be affected by the outbreak, according to state broadcaster CCTV. Yet the huge scale of the crisis raises multiple questions. This article is a summary of important China US news in February 2020.

Beijing may even delay its “parliamentary” sessions, but for how long can you pause an economy? A popular Chinese conspiracy theory claims the US engineered the coronavirus to keep China down.

A White House spokesman said the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the phase one trade deal. US officials confirmed that Chinese leaders have lifted import restrictions on US poultry and pet food, and taken other steps required by the deal. Live American chickens are now winging their way to Chinese kitchens.

Cheap US sorghum has lured back Chinese buyers. Yet mutual suspicion remains high in both countries. There are renewed fears Beijing is targeting American academia. The CEO at California’s $400bn state pension fund has been accused of being a tool of the Chinese government. A public row is underway over US opposition to China’s candidate to lead the World Intellectual Property Organisation, ahead of elections next week, and reveals US unease at China taking major UN roles. 

American distrust of Huawei means officials are still considering ways to further curb sales to the firm. In Munich, top US officials spoke out against Huawei and threatened European allies. You’ve taken a “very dangerous” path, warned Nancy Pelosi. The US increased pressure on Huawei by adding racketeering, obstruction of justice and money laundering to its series of charges against the telecoms giant. CFO Meng Wanzhou, who faces extradition from Canada to the US, is among those indicted.

Rebuking his own hardliners on China, President Trump moved to block his administration’s plans to block sales of General Electric-made jet engines to China and other proposed restrictions on American exports. Beijing expelled three reporters for the Wall Street Journal after the US designated five Chinese state media outlets as “foreign missions”. “This action is long overdue,” Mike Pompeo told Axios. 

The US must prepare for a possible military conflict with China, testified a senior US defence official in DC. The US flew surveillance planes over the Taiwan Strait, soon after mainland Chinese war games, in a show of support for Taipei. A top US military commander accused China of threatening sovereignty and stability in the Pacific.

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