Trump: US to sanction China over Hong Kong
President criticizes Biden, Obama policies
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he signed legislation that would slap sanctions on Chinese officials who undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong, the latest step in the administration’s increasingly confrontational posture toward Beijing.
But Trump’s official remarks in the Rose Garden quickly turned political as he offered an extended critique of Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and the Obama administration’s trade policies.
“If we listened to Joe Biden, hundreds of thousands of additional lives would have been lost” to the coronavirus, Trump claimed without evidence.
Trump’s remarks, which focused far more on Biden than on Hong Kong, came as the president has slid in national polling and has seen slipping support in battleground states he won in 2016, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The president, who made trade with China a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign, argued that the Obama administration “freely allowed China to pillage our factories.” Biden aides did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump’s remarks were the latest instance in which the president has veered into presidential politics during an official event.
“I can’t believe this,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg posted on Twitter. “This is a campaign event from the White House.”
U.S. relations with China have deteriorated as Trump has hammered at Beijing’s response to the coronavirus, repeatedly asserting China failed to warn the world about the severity of the disease that experts say originated in Wuhan. The virus has added a new layer of tensions on top of the trade war that erupted in 2018.
Trump has claimed his “phase one” trade agreement with China announced in January remains in place, though the country is falling short of its goals to purchase U.S. goods and Washington has left in place sanctions on billions of dollars in Chinese goods.
The president said he also signed an executive order ending preferential trade treatment for Hong Kong.