Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to revoke China’s permanent normal trade relations status with the U.S. if he’s elected president next year.
Executive action: DeSantis revealed that he intends to use executive measures to revoke the trade status in response to a question posed by host Maria Bartiromo during his interview with Fox News on July 9.
“Give us specifics that you want to change with regard to the relationship with China,” Bartiromo said. “Will you reverse the most favored nation trade status on China? What else can be done?”
“I favor doing that,” DeSantis replied. “I think we probably need Congress but I would take executive action as appropriate to be able to move us in that direction.”
China’s trade relations status: The U.S. Senate granted China its permanent normal trade relations status in 2000 as it was preparing to join the World Trade Organization.
This designation ensures free trade between the United States and the foreign nation involved. Any attempt to remove this status would require congressional authorization.
Tense relations: DeSantis’ statement comes amid increasingly tense relations between China and the U.S. In recent years, the two countries have clashed on a number of issues ranging from China’s human rights records and Taiwan’s independence to U.S. export bans on advanced technologies, among others.
The Biden administration has committed to improving the turbulent relationship with China by maintaining open communication between the nation’s key senior officials. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently completed a four-day trip to China that aimed to “establish and deepen relationships with the new economic leadership team in place in Beijing.”
In June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured the Chinese government
that the U.S. does not support Taiwanese independence and that it opposes any change in the country’s current stance, particularly in its support of the “One-China” policy.
Imposing strength: During the interview, DeSantis further emphasized how China remains the top geopolitical threat facing the country.
At the end of the day, what China respects is strength. And if you’re showing strength and we have hard power to back it up, they’re going to be much less aggressive. And my fear is under Biden, it’s his weakening that’s really inviting China to do more not just in their own theater, we see them doing more in our own hemisphere, here in the West.
DeSantis’ stance aligns with the broader Republican sentiment regarding China, including that of former President Donald Trump, who currently leads the Republican field in polls.
Trump said that if he wins the 2024 election, he will pass the so-called Trump Reciprocal Trade Act, which will implement tariffs that will target “India, China, or any other country” that imposes a 100% or 200% tariff on the U.S.