October 18, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Trump officials try to call on foreign allies in a campaign of pressure on China

US plans underway to punish China for Covid-19 pandemic

Now, there are efforts being made to ask foreign allies to do the same.

In recent weeks, Trump, along with several administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, have spoken with dozens of foreign allies about ways to collectively address what the White House said was a deliberate Chinese effort to hide its severity. plague, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion.

The president himself has stepped up his talks with foreign colleagues over the past three weeks, and has stepped up China with dozens of foreign leaders, one person familiar with the conversation said. While many traditional US allies remain vigilant to increase tensions with China, in speaking with Trump, several European leaders have expressed concern about how China handles the crisis, according to the person.

Among the retaliation options discussed at the White House were to impose additional tariffs on Chinese products, release Chinese sovereign immunity, and follow up on Chinese telecommunications companies, people said. Officials stressed that no immediate action was expected.

Among those who pushed the President to take a tougher line were Jared Kushner, Trump’s advisor and son-in-law. According to three people who were familiar with his thoughts, Kushner believed that one way to energize the President’s political base was to blow China up for its failure to stem the spread of the disease early on.

“The more you put this in China, the less you can say that we are slow to mobilize,” said one person close to the White House.

Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin, who is known to advocate for closer economic relations with Beijing and is seen as more hawkish than some of the main advisers to the Chinese President, has “begun to rise” to take a tougher stance on China, according to two people familiar with his views. But these people warned that Mnuchin remained reluctant to take any action that could damage the initial Phase One trade agreement agreed by the Trump government with China last year.

Sources who spoke with CNN added that there had been joint efforts to isolate trade discussions from current political tensions so as not to undermine the work that had been done. Even personally, administrative officials have been careful not to slap China for not making agricultural purchases, which observers say are not at all close to the level of the top commitment they have agreed on, especially concerning soy.

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China has taken several actions in connection with their trade agreement commitments on intellectual property, but overall it is an uneven record in Phase One, said these people, adding that neither side even touched on the issue of Phase Two trade talks.

Trump is still wary of Xi

While Trump has stepped up his rhetoric towards China recently, he has been careful not to criticize Chinese President Xi Jinping directly, because he is afraid he will damage personal relations. In conversations with several hawkish Senate Republicans who have pushed Trump to turn his rhetoric in China into action, Trump has sometimes been shaken, said a GOP Senate source.

“He still has a soft spot for Xi,” the source said.

A source close to the White House said in another way: “He was less afraid. Xi scared him.”

Just like at another turn in his trade war with China, some Trump business friends have warned him that taking action against China could damage the US stock market, two sources close to the White House told CNN.

However, there are reasons why it makes political sense for Trump to target China. A Pew Research poll last month showed that two thirds of Americans have a bad view from china. The data was supported by an internal poll conducted by the Republican National Committee which showed the same negative views about China among voters in several major battleground countries, sources familiar with the poll said.

The White House and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The State Department declined to comment.

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On Sunday, Trump openly admitted that he believed the outbreak, while covered by China, was the result of “mistakes.”

Trump is at odds with the US intelligence community by claiming coronavirus evidence that he saw came from a Chinese laboratory

“My opinion is they made a mistake. They tried to cover it up, they tried to put it out. It’s like fire,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. “You know, it’s really like trying to put out a fire. They can’t put out a fire.”

The president added that his administration was compiling a report on an outbreak that would be “very conclusive.”

Trump referred to the clash of relations between the two countries last Thursday, when he told reporters at the White House that China did not want to see him reelected because the US “got billions” from the country thanks to their trade agreement, a comment that failed to overcome the negative impact of the trade agreement on farmers and the broader US economy because of higher tariffs.

When asked whether China is holding back information about coronaviruses related to weakening its re-election, Trump said that “China wants to see sleepy Joe Biden – they will take the country for a trip like you’ve never seen before.”

Last week, in a very unusual move, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying that the US was trying to determine whether a coronavirus might have escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan city. The statement said that intelligence agencies agreed, with broad scientific consensus, that Covid-19 was not man-made or genetically modified. He added that it would continue to evaluate the information and intelligence that had arisen to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or whether it was the result of an accident in a laboratory in Wuhan.

Pompeo offered a bit more definitive assessment on Sunday, telling ABC News that there was “substantial evidence” that the coronavirus originated from the laboratory, while agreeing with the intelligence community’s assessment that it did not appear to have been made man-made or genetically modified.

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CNN’s Kylie Atwood contributed to this report.