China Vows to Work With U.S. on First Phase of Trade Agreement Despite Tensions Between Two Countries

On Friday, the Chinese government vowed to work with the U.S. on the first phase of its trade agreement, despite recent tensions between the two nations.

"We will work with the United States to implement the phase one China-U.S. economic and trade agreement," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said. "China will continue to boost economic and trade cooperation with other countries to deliver mutual benefits."

Li made his remarks during the third session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), which was previously delayed for two months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, forcing the Asian country into lockdown.

Throughout the past two years, President Donald Trump's administration has continued to place tariffs on approximately $360 billion worth of Chinese goods imported to the U.S., and China has responded by taking similar actions. In an effort to ease the number of tariffs, the two countries signed the first phase of its trade pact on January 15.

After the trade agreement was signed, Trump stated that the United States' "relationship with China is the best it's ever been," but that relationship has deteriorated over the past few months, and tensions between the two nations have escalated in a number of ways.

The novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, originated in Wuhan, China and has continued to spread across the world, specifically the U.S., which has remained the virus' epicenter. Since the virus hit the U.S., Trump has remained steady with his opinion that the outbreak could have been contained if the Chinese government was more transparent about it.

Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (L) applauds as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang returns to his seat after delivering his speech at the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 22, 2020. Leo Ramirez/Getty

"I think they made a horrible mistake and they didn't want to admit it. We wanted to go in. They didn't want us there," Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall. "This virus should not have spread all over the world. They should have put it out."

The Chinese government has responded to Trump and Gao Zhikai, an interpreter for the late leader of the People's Republic of China Deng Xiaoping, stated that "Never since the normalization of relations in 1979 have China-U.S. relations been as dangerous and as confrontational as today."

Despite the tensions between the two nations, the first phase of the trade pact could help to improve the countries' relationship as the agreement requires China to buy $200 billion in additional goods from the U.S.

On Thursday, the Department of Agriculture and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), announced that the two countries were making progress on their agreement.

In a statement, USTR Robert Lighthizer said the Asian nation "has worked with the United States to implement measures that will provide greater access for U.S. producers and exporters to China's growing food and agricultural markets."