Trump Defends China Trade Deal After Adviser Says It’s ‘Over’

WASHINGTON — The White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said on Monday night that the trade deal between the United States and China was “over,” briefly causing stock markets to dive before he and President Trump quickly walked back the remarks.

“The China Trade Deal is fully intact,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter after Mr. Navarro, a noted China critic, had appeared on Fox News. “Hopefully they will continue to live up to the terms of the Agreement!”

The events underscored the sensitivity of the “Phase 1” trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, which buoyed stock markets and brought to a close a prolonged and bruising trade war. But tensions have been rising sharply between the two countries over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and China’s assertion of power over Hong Kong, putting that pact into an increasingly precarious position.

Mr. Trump’s tweet was his firmest defense of his signature trade deal in weeks. While some of the president’s advisers believe that he has little to gain politically from scrapping it, others have said that his dissatisfaction with China is growing, raising the question of whether the United States would challenge China’s compliance with the pact.

“It’s over. Yes,” Mr. Navarro responded, adding that the “turning point” was China’s failure to warn the United States about the dangers of the coronavirus, which was spreading even as they concluded the pact.

“It was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic,” he said.

Shortly after the interview, Mr. Navarro issued a statement recanting the remarks, saying they had been taken “wildly out of context.”

“They had nothing at all to do with the Phase 1 trade deal, which continues in place,” Mr. Navarro said. “I was simply speaking to the lack of trust we now have of the Chinese Communist Party after they lied about the origins of the China virus and foisted a pandemic upon the world.”

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