US-China Relations Just Got Much Worse

Officials accuse Beijing of backtracking on commitments
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2019 4:05 AM CDT
Updated May 7, 2019 6:47 AM CDT
US-China Relations Just Got Much Worse
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, and his Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrive for a group photo session after their meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Wednesday, May 1, 2019.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong, Pool)

US-China relations took another hit Monday after American officials accused Beijing of backtracking on trade commitments—and confirmed that the US will go ahead with the tariff hikes threatened by President Trump. "Over the course of the last week or so we have seen an erosion in commitments by China. That in our view is unacceptable," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said after the markets closed Monday. He said trade talks with China will resume Thursday, but "come Friday there will be tariffs in place," the BBC reports. Lighthizer, who was joined by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other top administration officials at Monday's briefing, said the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products will rise to 25% from 10% at 12:01am Eastern time on Friday.

Analysts say it could be some time before trade talks are back on track. "The level of brinkmanship on both sides and their obvious mutual distrust has made the path to even a temporary cease-fire a lot murkier than just a few days ago," Cornell University professor of trade policy Eswar Prasad tells the Wall Street Journal. "It is likely a cooling-off period will be needed to get the talks back on track, but the imposition of additional tariffs by the US later this week could keep the talks derailed for a while to come." China confirmed Tuesday, however, that Vice Premier Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, will still travel to Washington for trade talks this week. (Stock markets dropped sharply after Trump's tariff threat, though the sell-off eased after China confirmed trade talks would go ahead.)

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