The trade deal is “fine” and China is “substantially” increasing purchases of American goods, U.S. President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said, dismissing concerns that rising tensions between the two countries might jeopardize the deal.
The “one area we are engaging is trade,” Kudlow told a White House news conference on Tuesday. “It’s fine right now.”
China continued to promise to implement the “phase-one” trade deal and the evidence showed the country was increasing purchases, especially of commodities, Kudlow said.
Continued dialogue on trade contrasts with increasing spats between the two nations. The Trump administration has stepped up its campaign against China in recent weeks, betting that a hard line against Beijing could help the president win November’s election.
Washington’s actions have included sanctioning Chinese individuals connected with human-rights abuses in its western region of Xinjiang, as well officials for their roles in curtailing freedoms in the former British colony of Hong Kong. Trump has also taken steps to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat. Consulates of both countries have been ordered closed by each other’s governments.
Even as China keeps returning fire at the Trump administration, the country’s diplomats are signaling that they want to ease tensions. For instance, Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said he was ready anytime to talk to his American counterparts.
There was scope for Beijing and Washington to cooperate on economic and trade matters, as well as on nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, Le said in an interview posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website Wednesday. The two countries should maintain dialogue, no matter how difficult and complicated the issues between them became, he added.
His comments follow on other calls for collaboration from top Chinese officials, including senior diplomats Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi.
Read more: China Seeks to Calm U.S. Tension Even While Firing Back at Trump
The trade deal offers hope that the two countries can continue to work together. In January, China promised to buy an additional $200 billion of U.S. goods and services over the 2017 level by the end of 2021. That agreement paused a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies, although the relationship has deteriorated on almost every other front since then.
China Is Buying American But Not Enough to Hit Trade Deal Target
As of the end of June, China had bought about 23% of the total 2020 purchase target of more than $170 billion of goods, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Chinese data. Senior American and Chinese officials are planning to assess the implementation of the trade agreement on, or around, Aug. 15.