U.S. trade negotiations with China resume next week and have already been immensely complex. The outcome is critical to electronics makers.
Now, trade talks could become thornier with President Trump’s call for China to help find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Biden is a leading opponent in the president’s re-election bid.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” President Trump told reporters outside the White House mid-day Thursday. He said he hasn’t asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to conduct such an investigation, but added, “it’s certainly something we should start thinking about.”
The trade talks between the two superpowers are due to resume Oct. 10 in Washington. Among the many trade issues on the table are concerns by U.S. chipmakers for continued fair and open trade between the countries as well as some means of protecting intellectual property rights of U.S. patent holders.
Many U.S. technology companies want to continue to sell to Chinese companies. Dozens have petitioned the U.S. Commerce Department for waivers to be able to sell to blacklisted Huawei, among others. Huawei was placed on an Entity List in May as a security threat to the U.S. Recently, chipmaker Micron’s CEO said it was important for the two countries to come up with a trade agreement and predicted a worsening decline in sales to Huawei.
Seemingly, the trade talks shouldn’t necessarily be affected by President Trump’s call for an investigation into the Bidens, but the timing of his comments just before the trade talks resume led some to question if they were appropriate. The White House wouldn’t comment on the timing, according to CNBC.
Regarding China trade, President Trump also seemed to suggest there was a connection to his call for China to investigate the Bidens. “I have a lot of options on China,” he said on Thursday. “If they do not do what we want, we have tremendous power.”
Former U.S Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns said on MSNBC that the president is “calling one of our great rivals in the world, the Chinese regime, to investigate his political opponent. It’s wrong to do that. It’s legally and morally wrong.”
However, the president’s personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that asking China to investigate the Bidens is “exactly what a president should do.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week launched an impeachment inquiry regarding the president based on allegations that his administration withheld military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to coerce an investigation by Ukraine’s president and others into activities of Hunter Biden.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a natural gas producer in Ukraine from 2014 to 2019 when his father was Vice President and when the U.S. threatened to withhold U.S. aid to Ukraine if Ukraine didn’t fire its top prosecutor for corruption. A Ukrainian investigation into the gas producer never implicated Hunter Biden, however. Some ethics experts who spoke to Politifact.com said it was mistake for Hunter Biden to serve on the Burisma board when his father was vice president, but not a crime.