Trump says U.S.-China 'trade deal means less to me now' than when he signed it

Trump has thrown cold water on the idea of a phase two trade deal

President Trump said Thursday that phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal means much less to him now despite China stepping up agriculture purchases in recent weeks.

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“The trade deal means less to me now than it did when I made it," Trump said in the White House briefing room. "They are setting records. Yesterday was a record corn day, they purchased more corn than any order ever and that went on for two or three days. And soybeans and all, but it just mean much less to me. Can you understand that? It just means much less to me.”

China bought a single-day record 1.76 million metric tons of corn on July 14. It has bought 6.1 million metric tons of soybeans this year as of July 16, according to USDA data.

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Trump signed phase one of the trade deal on Jan. 15, but America's relationship with China has deteriorated since then due to tensions over the coronavirus, Beijing's curtailing of political freedoms in Hong Kong, and China's detention of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province.

This week, the U.S. state department ordered the shutdown of the Chinese consulate in Houston. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it "a hub of spying and IP theft." But Cai Wei, the Chinese consul general in Houston, told Politico on Thursday that China is protesting the closure order and that his office is still open.

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Pompeo blasted China in a speech at the Nixon Library on Thursday, calling for a shift in relations between the two superpowers.

"If we want to have a free 21st century, and not the Chinese century of which Xi Jinping dreams, the old paradigm of blind engagement with China simply won't get it done," the nation's top diplomat said.

Phase one of the trade deal was supposed to be a watershed moment for Trump, as he had been promising it since the 2016 campaign trail. But it doesn't look like phase one will be fulfilled, and the president has thrown cold water on the idea of phase two.

"I'm not interested right now in talking to China," Trump told CBS News last week. "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."

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