His threat on Thursday came a day after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress that he did not think decoupling the US and Chinese economies was a viable option.
“Do I think that you can sit down and decouple the United States economy from the Chinese economy?” he said. “No, I think that was a policy option years ago. I don’t think it’s a … reasonable policy option at this point.”
Trump, whose former national security adviser John Bolton also alleged he had told Chinese counterparts to help him win re-election by buying more US farm products, said on Twitter that “decoupling” remains an option.
“It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, but the US certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China,” the Republican president said on Twitter.
His threat also came a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Chinese official Yang Jiechi, amid uncertainty over whether the nations’ trade pact will remain intact.
Yang said China is committed to keeping agriculture purchases that were vital to the US president’s support of the deal, Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, Trump, who refers to the coronavirus as the “plague from China,” has also ramped up his rhetoric against Beijing as the pandemic continues to spread in the US.
“I think the trade deal is a great deal. But ever since we got hit with the Chinese plague, I feel different toward everything having to do with China. And I’ve always been hardline on China,” he told the Wall Street Journal during an interview on Wednesday.
The world’s two largest economies have been at odds over the handling of the pandemic.
The president has accused the Asian country of withholding important information in the early days of the outbreak
Last month, he signaled a further deterioration in the relationship, saying he was uninterested in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now.
He suggested that he could even cut ties with the world’s second-largest economy.