US President Donald Trump has threatened to terminate the trade deal with China if Beijing did not honour its provisions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that originated in the country.
While China has reported 82,788 novel coronavirus cases, including 4,632 fatalities, the US registered over 824,600 cases and more than 45,290 deaths -- the highest in the world.
China and the US in January signed Phase-1 of the trade deal as the world's two top economic powers move forward to end their bitter tit-for-tat two-year tariff war that had rattled markets and weighed on the global economy.
The deal, which calls on China to buy USD 200 billion worth of US products, is set to move ahead as planned. However, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission in a report said China could invoke a clause in the agreement that allows for fresh trade consultations between the two countries "in the event of a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event".
"If that happens, we'll do a termination and we'll do what I can do better than anybody," Trump told reporters on Tuesday during his daily White House press conference on coronavirus.
The president was responding to a question as to how confident he is that the Chinese are not going to invoke the natural disaster clause mentioned in the trade deal.
"There is nobody ever been tougher on China than me," Trump said, reiterating that China had been ripping the US off for years till he was elected as the president.
"Take a look, USD 200 billion, USD 300 billion, USD 400 billion, USD 500 billion a year. How did they ever let a thing like this happen? Now, if you look at this last year, the deficit went way down to the world," he said.
Trump launched the trade war with China in 2018, demanding Beijing to reduce the massive trade deficit, which was USD 375.6 billion in 2017.
The two countries so far have imposed additional tariffs on nearly USD half trillion worth of goods. The US has imposed tariffs on more than USD 360 billions of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on over USD 110 billions of American products.
"Now it's much different. But a lot of things are happening. Great things were happening except all of these sudden out of nowhere came the invisible enemy. We think we know where it came from, and we'll be talking about that probably a lot, but came the invisible enemy. There's nobody tougher than me on China," Trump said.