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Wrong Response by Trump to China’s Countermeasures Threat Could Blow Up Trade Deal

James Hyerczyk

There’s a breaking story out of Asia early Wednesday that could blow up into something major later in the day if U.S. President Trump decides to exacerbate the issue. The current price action in the financial markets indicates a sense of caution may be developing in the financial markets with safe-haven assets – Treasury bonds, Japanese Yen and gold turning higher, while demand for risky assets is edging lower.

According to reports, China is threatening to take countermeasures against the U.S. in response to a bill that favors the Hong Kong protesters, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

That is a pretty bold threat to make while the United States and China are trying to finalize the first phase of a partial trade deal agreed upon on Friday. It’s also closely similar to the threat China made against the National Basketball Association (NBA) before it caved to pressure from the Chinese government last week after an NBA team official made comments supporting the Hong Kong protesters.

The Background

Three bills were approved in the House of Representatives Wednesday evening, one supporting the right of individuals to protest, another allowing for the U.S. to check on Beijing’s influence over the territory and a third aimed at preventing U.S. weapons from being used by police against protesters.

China’s Response

“If the relevant act were to become law, it wouldn’t only harm China’s interests and China-U.S. relations, but would also seriously damage U.S. interests,” said Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, in a statement on the body’s website. “China will definitely take strong countermeasures in response to the wrong decisions by the U.S. side to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.”

Geng said while China was working to restore law and order in Hong Kong, U.S. lawmakers were “disregarding and distorting facts,” by turning criminal acts and violence against police into issues of “human rights or democracy.”

“That is a stark double standard. It fully exposes the shocking hypocrisy of some in the U.S. on human rights and democracy and their malicious intention to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability to contain China’s development,” said Geng, who urged the U.S. to “stop meddling.”

Trump’s Problem

Last week, CNN reported, Trump, in a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, promised that the U.S. would stay quiet on the Hong Kong protests while the two countries continued to negotiate a possible end to the ongoing trade war.

Early Wednesday, traders are taking precautionary positions in response to the comments from China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson. Bonds, gold and Japanese Yen are being bought and stocks in the U.S. and Europe are being sold.

What traders could be waiting for is Trump’s response. Will he defy his promise to Chinese President Xi Jinping, or will he remain silent?  It’s highly unusual for Trump to remain silent for too long especially when a foreign country threatens the U.S. with “strong countermeasures.”

Traders should keep an eye on this story because it could develop into something major during the trading session. Somewhere, somehow, somebody in the press may try to push Trump’s button’s to get a response, and if they push the wrong one, Trump could say something to shake up the financial markets.

Trump certainly knows how to pick his battles. He’s usually quick to respond to comments from CEO’s, coaches, athletes, politicians and celebrities. However, if he doesn’t speak up, he’ll show the world that he just gave in to pressure from China, the country he keeps saying is weaker than the United States.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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