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Trump threatens to cut off ties with China

Donald Trump has warned that he could “cut off the whole relationship” with China; in the latest escalation of US tensions with Beijing. The US President increasingly blames China for the global spread of the coronavirus.

“There are many things we could do,” Mr Trump told Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria on Thursday. “We could cut off the whole relationship. Now if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500bn.”

It was unclear what that figure represented.

Trump was responding to a question about whether the US should refuse Chinese nationals student visas for sensitive science areas.

The White House in 2018 considered blocking Chinese citizens from receiving student visas; but backed away from the idea pushed by Stephen Miller, a hardline White House aide; who is close to Trump.

The president has in recent weeks intensified his criticism of the Chinese government over the way it handled the disclosure of the virus. Also, he has suggested that Beijing would be forced to pay a price.

However, Trump did not explain what he meant by cutting off ties. But some officials want him to remove Chinese companies from US supply chains.

The president on Thursday also signed an executive order that authorises the US International Development Finance Corporation; to provide loans to US industrial companies to shore domestic manufacturing related to the pandemic response.

Pressed on how he could force US companies to move their supply chains, Trump told Fox Business; “One incentive, frankly, is to charge tax for them when they make product outside.”

Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, on Thursday called on China to stop cyber-espionage related to US research into Covid-19. Further, he urged China to be more transparent in providing information about the pandemic.

“While the US and our allies and partners are co-ordinating a collective, transparent response to save lives; the PRC continues to silence scientists, journalists, and citizens, and to spread disinformation; which has exacerbated the dangers of this health crisis,” Mr Pompeo said.

In his Fox Business interview, Trump said he was looking “very strongly” at whether Chinese companies should be allowed to list on US stock exchanges if they did not follow US accounting rules. But he said he knew that there was a downside to such a move.

Notes from Financial Times

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