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Will US-China tensions affect the trade deal?

Both countries return to tensions that jeopardize the second phase of the agreement that was initially signed in January 2020 .

United States President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump indicated that because of the pandemic, relations with China have been affected. / Photo: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ¿Tensiones EE.UU-China afectarán el acuerdo comercial?

President Donald Trump said during his visit to Florida, a state that has critical coronavirus cases, that relations between the United States and China are "seriously damaged" as a result of what happened with the pandemic.

Tensions between China and the United States have been maintained throughout the years, being the two main economic competitors in the world; tensions that increased between 2018 and 2019. Despite a trade agreement that had been reached months before the pandemic broke out, this became one more occasion for both nations to face each other.

Now, President Trump has warned of the possibility of stopping the trade agreement and not proceeding to the second phase, after the initial phase was signed in January 2020 . In the first phase, the United States had promised to remove tariffs on some products, while China promised to increase the purchase of American products. The purpose was that in the following phases the same would be done with other products.

"Relations with China were seriously damaged. They could have stopped the plague, they could have stopped the plague, and they did not," Trump said during his appearance. Likewise, although it was not clear whether the second phase will continue or not, he said that he had many other things in mind.

Several weeks ago, Trump had announced that while he would continue to comply with phase one of the agreement, he ordered to revoke special trade exemptions for Hong Kong. As a consequence, China had warned in June that everything that happened around the pandemic would have serious repercussions on the trade deal.

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Pandemic tensions

Since the main outbreak of the virus, both nations have sought ways to blame their counterpart.

Initially , the Chinese government had claimed that patient 0 in Wuhan had been an American soldier who had come to the city for an activity with the armed forces. This accusation was quickly rejected and forgotten, while the US government claimed that the "Chinese" virus, as Trump said at the time, had originated in a laboratory, contradicting studies that the virus has a natural origin.

Trump's accusations continued, and he and other governments claimed that China was partially responsible; both for having created the virus in a laboratory and for having lied about its presence several weeks ago. In this second accusation, the WHO was also accused of being an accomplice to China and hiding from the world what was happening.

However, these allegations have been repeatedly denied by both the WHO and China, which has agreed to have an evaluation of its handling of the crisis.

Following the accusations from the United States, China has called on it to unite and maintain stable relations between the two, focusing on the importance of this in a time of crisis. For his part, Donald Trump once denied this "truce" and, on the contrary, has continued with the tariffs that, in the end, will manage to bring tensions to the level prior to the trade agreement.

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