Trade talks between China, US called off amid COVID-19 fallout

President Trump said he postponed trade talks with China over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic as the State Department is urging colleges and universities to divest from Chinese holdings in their endowments.

But White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said officials from Washington and Beijing are still in touch about reviewing phase one of a trade deal signed by both countries in January.

The talks were scheduled for Saturday.

“I postponed talks with China. You know why? I don’t want to deal with them now. I don’t want to deal with them now. With what they did to this country and to the world, I don’t want to talk to China right now,” Trump told reporters during a stop at the border wall in Yuma, Ariz., on Tuesday.

Asked if he would pull out of the trade deal, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens.”

“Look, let me tell you, what China did to the world was not even thinkable. They could have stopped it. They stopped it from going into China, and they should have stopped it,” he said.

Meadows said the review has not been rescheduled but that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was in contact with his counterparts in China “about fulfilling their agreements.”

The State Department also sent letters to the boards of directors of American universities and colleges on Tuesday about their Chinese stock holdings.

“Boards of U.S. university endowments would be prudent to divest from People’s Republic of China firms’ stocks in the likely outcome that enhanced listing standards lead to a wholesale de-listing of PRC firms from U.S. exchanges by the end of next year,” Keith Krach, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment, wrote in the letter that was viewed by Bloomberg News.

“Holding these stocks also runs the high risks associated with PRC companies having to restate financials,” Krach wrote in the letter.

The investments total in the billions of dollars, Bloomberg reported.

Trump has taken a number of actions against the Chinese government, businesses and officials, including signing an executive order banning US companies from doing business with TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company.

China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the administration for meddling in its financial dealings in the US.

“Putting up obstacles for such cooperation does not serve the interests of our capital markets,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Wednesday.

“We urge the US side to create a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies’ investment in the US,” he said.

Washington and the Chinese Communist Party signed an agreement in January that cut some tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for China pledging to buy more American farm, energy and manufacturing products.

Provisions of the deal call for periodic reviews.

With Post wires

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