Trump: Squeezing the Chinese is having a 'major effect'

As US-China talks drag on, Trump cites weak Chinese growth data and warns more squeezing could come.

    China's economy is still growing at a steady clip, but the numbers are the weakest in decades [Stringer/Reuters]
    China's economy is still growing at a steady clip, but the numbers are the weakest in decades [Stringer/Reuters]

    United States President Donald Trump has seized on slowing economic growth in China as evidence that US tariffs are having "a major effect", and he warned on Monday that Washington could pile on more pressure, as talks to end the trade war between the two countries continue sputtering along.

    Data released earlier on Monday showed that growth in China had slowed to 6.2 percent in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, amid ongoing pressure from the US-China trade war.

    "This is why China wants to make a deal with the U.S., and wishes it had not broken the original deal in the first place," Trump tweeted.

    Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month agreed to another truce in the year-long trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. That agreement, announced after the leaders met in Osaka, Japan, was aimed at kickstarting stalled negotiations, but no deadline has been set for the process to conclude.

    The US president has grown increasingly frustrated that China has not delivered on what he views as a promise to start buying more US agricultural goods, even as talks continued.

    But sources familiar with the state of negotiations insisted to the Reuters news agency that the Chinese side did not make firm commitments at the meeting to purchase agricultural commodities immediately.

    Upcoming talks?

    Adding to mounting pressure on China, Trump will sign an order on Monday seeking to increase the US domestic content threshold for iron and steel in federal procurements, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Fox News.

    The move, which aims to boost the threshold from 50 percent to 95 percent, comes amid continued concerns over overproduction by China, the world's biggest steel producer.

    Official data showed that China's daily crude steel output rose to record levels in June, according to calculations by Reuters, even as anti-pollution production curbs pushed whole-month production slightly lower.

    US and Chinese trade negotiators spoke by phone last week, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will travel to Beijing "in the very near future", Navarro said last week. However, no date for the meeting has been announced.

    One source familiar with the negotiations said the US side wants China to clarify which negotiating document will form the basis for the talks before locking in a firm date for the in-person meeting.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Washington and Ambassador Cui Tiankai have both launched Twitter accounts, keen to amp up visibility in the US capital for Beijing's views on trade talks, Taiwan and other issues. Cui already has over 10,000 followers, less than a week after getting on the social media platform.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency