08/07/2020 – How COVID-19 affects U.S.-China trade deal

Posted on Aug 19, 2020

source: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/aug/7/how-covid-19-affects-us-china-trade-deal/
– – Friday, August 7, 2020

With meetings planned for Aug. 15 to evaluate Beijing’s compliance with the bilateral trade agreement signed on Jan. 15 — the Phase One Trade Agreement — the Chinese regime’s suppression of information about the emergence of COVID-19 sheds new light on their behavior and tactics, a source of confusion and concern among American leaders.

The impact of the pandemic on trade negotiations has not gone unnoticed by American leaders; according to President Donald Trump, “We made a great trade deal. But as soon as the deal was done, the ink wasn’t even dry, and they hit us with the plague.”

During a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii on June 17, top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi reiterated Beijing’s dissatisfaction with new U.S. “meddling” in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang and other matters. One Chinese official said Mr. Yang implied that “the U.S. side should refrain from going too far with meddling,” and if “red lines” are crossed, that could jeopardize the phase one trade deal entirely.

China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, delivered a similar message after the meeting on June 17, suggesting that China’s ability to carry out its purchasing commitments under the trade agreement will require the United States to ease pressure on other fronts.

How could China default on the agreement in broad daylight? In fact, the agreement includes a force majeure clause, inserted when Chinese authorities, but not Americans, knew a deadly pandemic lay ahead. How did the clause, which allows for noncompliance in the event of unforeseen circumstances, manage to get into the agreement? The following account, excerpted from the comprehensive research report “China and the Pandemic” by Citizens Power Initiatives for China, tells the story:

The U.S.-China “Phase One” trade deal was signed on Jan. 15, 2020 EST, the same exact day that the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) internally declared a level-one emergency response. The coincidental timing of these two events should spark everyone’s curiosity. It is impossible that China’s top officials and trade agreement negotiators would not have known about these highest-level emergency measures taken by the CCDC.

Of course, the outbreak must have been serious enough for such measures to be taken, but the Chinese authorities failed to announce this news to the Chinese people, let alone the international community — nor did China’s trade delegation inform the United States about this situation.