Washington: US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on another 300 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods if President Xi Jinping of China does not meet him at the G20 summit in Japan later this month.
“We’re expected to meet, and if we don’t, that’s fine, and if we do, that’s fine,” Trump said of himself and the Chinese leader in a phone interview with CNBC on Monday.
When asked whether Xi’s failure to meet him at the summit — slated for June 28-29 in Osaka — would result in the imposition of tariffs on the last 300 billion dollars in Chinese imports to the US, Trump said, “Yes, it would.”
Trump first threatened to impose those tariffs last week, saying he would decide whether to follow through with the threat following the G20 summit.
Trump then seemed to both downplay his threat and put the onus on President Xi, saying he wouldn’t be insulted if the Chinese president declined to meet him.
“I’m never insulted. I’ve learned not to be insulted,” Trump said after the CNBC interview. “I think he will be there. We’re scheduled to talk. Interesting things will happen. We’ll see what happens.”
He also claimed that he had a “great relationship” with President Xi despite the bitter trade war the two countries are locked in.
China has not confirmed a meeting, with the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying on Tuesday that information would be released once it was available to the ministry.
He also warned that Beijing would respond resolutely “if the United States only wants to escalate trade frictions.”
“China does not want to fight a trade war, but we are not afraid of fighting a trade war,” Shuang said, stressing that China’s door was open to talks based on equality.
Trump initiated the trade war with China last year, when he first imposed unusually heavy tariffs on imports from the country. Since then, the two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than 360 billion dollars in two-way trade.
Beijing and Washington have held talks to settle the issue, but to no avail so far. Their latest round of trade negotiations ended earlier in May without conclusion.