President Trump's administration on Sunday appeared to back away somewhat from threats of tariffs on China as global fears of an escalating trade dispute continued to rattle world markets. Per the Wall Street Journal, officials noted that penalties are not imminent and that China would ultimately choose cooperation rather than be forced into it. President Trump personally addressed the issue on Twitter Sunday. "President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade," Trump wrote. "China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!" As the AP notes, Trump did not explain why, amid a week of economic saber-rattling between the two countries that shook global markets, he felt confident a deal could be made.
Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, told Fox News Sunday the threats are part of a negotiating tactic. "It's a long process," Kudlow said. "So far, no tariffs and no action have been enacted." The Trump administration has said it is taking action as a crackdown on China's theft of US intellectual property. The US bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year; the US sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017 and faces a potentially devastating hit to its market there if China responds in kind. China has pledged to "counterattack with great strength" if Trump decides to follow through on his latest threat to impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods—after an earlier announcement that targeted $50 billion.