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Trump Says He Avoided Punishing China Over Uighur Camps to Protect Trade Talks

Uighur men in China’s northwest Xinjiang region last year. China has put up to a million Uighurs in indoctrination camps.

Congress passed that measure...

Congress passed that measure this spring in large part to pressure Mr. Trump after he failed to take unilateral action already within his power.

As the scale of China’s crackdown became clear in 2018, officials at the Trump White House and the Treasury Department — with bipartisan support[1] in Congress — discussed imposing sanctions[2] on Chinese officials and companies with a hand in the crackdown on the Uighurs. But U.S. officials said last year that the idea was dropped to avoid interfering with what Mr. Trump has said could be “the biggest deal ever made.”

In a “Phase 1” trade deal signed in January, China made pledges to open up its financial sector, strengthen its protections of intellectual property and purchase $200 billion of additional American goods by the end of next year.

But the truce ushered in by that deal has been short-lived. In addition to rising tensions over a new security measure[3] governing Hong Kong and the origin of the coronavirus, the pandemic has crushed consumer demand and disrupted supply chains, leaving those promised purchases lagging far behind targets[4].

While some of Mr. Trump’s advisers believe he has little to gain politically from scrapping his signature trade deal, the president’s dissatisfaction with China is growing. That raises the question of whether the United States would challenge China’s compliance with the pact or take further action in retaliation[5] for Beijing’s crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong.

On Sunday, China temporarily suspended[6] poultry imports from a U.S. slaughterhouse that had coronavirus cases among its workers, though the World Health Organization has found no evidence that the virus is transmitted through food.

In the interview with Axios, Mr. Trump also said he would “maybe think about” a meeting with the Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, whom Mr. Trump has spent years trying to push from office. “Maduro would like to meet. And I’m never opposed to meetings — you know, rarely opposed to meetings,” Mr. Trump said.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.


  1. ^ bipartisan support (
  2. ^ discussed imposing sanctions (
  3. ^ new security measure (
  4. ^ lagging far behind targets (
  5. ^ take further action in retaliation (
  6. ^ temporarily suspended (

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