World Newsletter

19 February 2020


US President Donald Trump on Tuesday openly vilified proposed restrictions on trade with China, saying that his administration wanted to make doing business with China "easy", including sales of jet engines, instead of resorting to the "always used national security excuse".

"The United States cannot, & will not, become such a difficult place to deal with in terms of foreign countries buying our product, including for the always used National Security excuse, that our companies will be forced to leave in order to remain competitive," Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

Trump's public rebuke in his flurry of tweets apparently followed reports over the weekend that the Trump administration was weighing a proposal to halt deliveries of jet engines co-produced by General Electric Company (GE) for the COMAC C919 airliner being developed in China, over concerns that the Chinese could reverse-engineer the engines, posing a potential threat to US business.

"We want to sell product and goods to China and other countries. That's what trade is all about. We don't want to make it impossible to do business with us," Trump continued saying on his Twitter account.

The New York Times reported on Monday that top Trump administration officials will discuss whether to prevent the sale of an aircraft engine produced in part by GE at a cabinet meeting on Feb 28. It also said stopping such licenses would be a big financial hit to companies like GE.

"I have seen some of the regulations being circulated, including those being contemplated by Congress, and they are ridiculous. I want to make it EASY to do business with the United States, not difficult. Everyone in my Administration is being so instructed, with no excuses," Trump tweeted, without identifying the restrictions or the regulations.

GE shares reversed an earlier decline after Trump's tweets Tuesday.

Early on Tuesday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Beijing urged Washington to view Chinese companies and China-US business cooperation "objectively and fairly" and be a "constructive contributor rather than an irrational spoiler".

"We noted this report," Geng said about the media report of the proposed blocking of the jet engine sales. "It also says that GE is arguing against the possible move of the US government, saying that mimicking the advanced manufacturing techniques that have produced the engine is far harder than some administration officials believe."

Geng added that GE has also argued the engines have been on the ground in China for years, meaning there is no reason for China to wait until now to begin the reverse-engineering if it had wanted to do so.



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