Reported pause of US farm imports deemed a response toward HK sanctions: experts

By GT staff reporters Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/1 19:29:10

Chinese Vice Premiere Liu He and US President Donald Trump signed the phase one trade deal at the White House on Wednesday (US time)

Chinese experts following the China-US trade deal said that a reported Beijing move to halt some imports from the US is an "unsurprising technical move" in response to US President Donald Trump's latest coercion on Hong Kong. 

Bloomberg reported on Monday that Chinese government officials told major state-run agricultural companies to pause purchases of some American farm goods including soybeans and pork as Beijing evaluates the ongoing escalation of tensions with Washington over Hong Kong, citing people familiar with the situation.

Chinese experts said if the report is true, it could be a form of Chinese preparation due to rising tensions between China and the US.  

Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing who closely follows the China-US trade conflict, described the reported measure as "technical fine-tuning."

Trump said on Friday he was ordering his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong to "punish" China for its plans to enact a new security law in the southern Chinese  city.

"The US has said something about what it is about to do [about Hong Kong], so it is unsurprising that we are hearing that the Chinese government is making some preparations accordingly," Gao told the Global Times on Monday. 

Gao said that China still intends to implement the phase one trade deal signed with the US in January, as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reiterated in his Government Work Report that was delivered to the National People's Congress in late May.

However, the technical fine-tuning does not conflict with this statement, as the trade deal has only a yearly target for China's agricultural purchases from the US, Gao said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference on Monday that any talk or action by the US to damage China's interests will be met with resolute pushback from China.

A source close to the Chinese government told the Global Times last month that China is ready to hit major US companies including Boeing, Qualcomm and Apple in response to US crackdowns on Chinese technology giant Huawei.

Song Guoyou, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Monday that if there is a problem in China-US relations that affects China's imports from the US, then China can reduce imports from the US of agricultural products, including soybeans. 

"China's agricultural self-sufficiency rate and its imports from other countries are considerable, and its dependence on American agricultural products is not high," Song noted.

Song believes that China could reduce imports of US agricultural goods, including soybeans, because of rising tension between China and the US over Hong Kong issues.

Sinograin, a state-owned trader mentioned in the Bloomberg report, said there's no relevant information that is ready to be made public, when reached by the Global Times. 

A staff with the PR department of COFCO said the department is not aware of the report.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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