U.S.-China Trade War Timeline: What's Happened and What's Next

Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Source: Bloomburg

Talks resume in Washington this week between the U.S. and China over the trade dispute. With a previous round of discussions ending on an optimistic note and about four weeks before the U.S.-imposed deadline for a deal, all eyes are on what they can hammer our over the next two days.

Here’s what the two sides are looking for, and here’s the timeline of what’s happened this past year, in reverse chronological order.

 

DATE

JOINT ACTION

U.S. ACTION

CHINESE ACTION

3/1/2019

Deadline for a deal.

   

30-31/1/2019

Talks scheduled in Washington.

   

1/29/2019

   

Reported that China offered to buy more farm products.

1/28/2019

 

The key issue in talks will be how any deal will be enforced, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the trade and Huawei questions are separate.

 

1/28/2019

 

U.S. formally seeks extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada and charges company with theft of intellectual property and bank fraud.

 

1/28/2019

   

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He arrived in Washington. Liu is lead negotiator and is accompanied by the central bank governor and others.

1/24/2019

 

Commerce Secretary Ross says both sides are eager to end their trade war but the outcome will hinge on whether Beijing will deepen economic reforms and further open up its markets.

 

1/24/2019

   

China says it will grant new banking licences to foreign banks within the next six months.

1/22/2019

   

 China said to be considering buying 7 million tons of U.S. wheat.

1/19/2019

Reported that two sides have made little progress on question of intellectual property.

   

1/18/2019

 

Reported that U.S. is preparing to restrict Chinese telecom companies from operating in the U.S.

 

1/18/2019

   

Reported that China offering a path to eliminate U.S. trade deficit.

1/17/2019

 

Reported that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin proposed lowering tariffs on China to calm markets. Treasury later denies report.

 

1/15/2019

 

U.S Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer saw little progress in the trade talks, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says.

 

1/15/2019

   

Reported that China has asked some state-run companies to avoid business trips to the U.S. and its allies.

1/10/2019

 

Reported that U.S. is blocking some exports from Huawei’s U.S. unit.

 

1/9/2019

Talks end in Beijing.

U.S. statement emphasized Chinese commitment to buy more goods and how to verify any agreement is enforced.

Chinese statement merely says meeting "laid the foundation for resolving mutual concerns."

1/9/2019

   

A state-owned microchip manufacturer pleads non-guilty in a U.S. court on charges of stealing trade secrets.

1/8/2019

 

Reported that Trump wants a deal with China done to boost stock market. He later tweets that talks "are going very well."

 

1/7-9/2019

Mid-level officials meet for talks in Beijing.

   

12/25/2018

   

China pledges to treat all firms equally, whether they are foreign, private Chinese companies or state-owned enterprises.

12/24/2018

   

China cuts tariffs on more than 700 imports. It also resumed imports of LNG and crude oil from the U.S in November, according to customs data.

12/21/2018

Mid-level officials on both sides spoke by phone.

   

12/19/2018

 

U.S. accuses China of broad economic espionage and hacking.

 

12/19/2018

Mid-level officials on both sides spoke by phone.

   

12/13/2018

   

China orders 1.5 million - 2 million tons of soybeans from the U.S.

12/11/2018

 

Trump said he would intervene in the case of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou if it would help win a trade deal with China.

Canada confirms that a former diplomat has been arrested in China, in a case sees as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei’s Meng.

12/11/2018

Vice Premier Liu and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talk via phone.

 

Reported that China will cut retaliatory tariffs on car imports from U.S. Later confirmed the tariff will be temporarily lifted from Jan. 1.

12/05/2018

 

Reported that Canada had arrested Huawei’s Meng at the request of the U.S. on Dec. 1, just before the summit between Trump and Xi. She is later released on bail.

China immediately protests the arrest.

12/05/2018

   

China says it will quickly implement deal, and is said to tell officials told to prepare to resume soy and LNG imports from the U.S.

12/04/2018

   

China announced new punishments for intellectual property theft.

12/1/2018

Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a truce and talks, freezing tariffs at the current level for 90 days.

U.S. postpones increase on tariffs on $200 billion of imports, which was planned for Jan. 1.

China agreed to increase imports, according to Foreign Minister Wang Yi. According to White House Spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, China also agreed to:

     
  • Immediately restart buying agricultural products
  • Buy substantial amounts of farm, energy and industrial and other products from the U.S. (amount not yet agreed)
  • Reconsider the Qualcomm-NXP takeover deal (that China declined to approve) if it was presented again.
  • Designate fentanyl as a controlled substance
       
       
       

11/28/2018

 

U.S. Trade Representative announces it will look to equalize car tariffs with China, calling the Chinese policy "especially egregious."

 

11/26/2018

 

Trump threatens to increase tariffs, possibly to cover all U.S. imports.

 

11/23/2018

 

U.S. government has been urging its allies not to use telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

11/20/2018

The World Trade Organization agreed to launch investigation into China’s intellectual property policyand U.S. metals tariffs.

   

11/20/2018

 

USTR accused China of continuing a state-backed campaign of intellectual property and technology theft in an update on its Section 301 report on China’s protection of IP.

 

11/19/2018

 

U.S. pushed ahead with plan to tighten restrictions on technology exports.

 

11/18/2018

APEC forum ended without a communique after dispute over statement on trade. Xi and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traded barbs at the event.

   

11/16/2018

 

Trumpsaid the U.S. may not need to impose more tariffs, as China wants to make a deal and had sent a list of responses to U.S. demands.

 

11/15/2018

 

Trump said he wanted any deal to include soybeans.

 

11/15/2018

 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that at best, Trump and Xi will likely agree to a frameworkfor further talks. USTR Lighthizerdeniedreports that further tariffs are on hold.

 

11/13/2018

   

China complained to the WTO that the U.S. ban on companies doing business with a Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhuaviolates WTO rules.

11/13/2018

The two nations are talking at "all levels," according to President Trump’s economic aide Larry Kudlow.

   

11/12/2018

 

U.S. administration plans to use export controls, indictments and other tools to counter Chinese theft of intellectual property, according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

11/09/2018

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Vice Premier Liu He spoke.

White House adviser Peter Navarro warned "Wall Street" to stay out of negotiations with China. He’s later criticized for these comments by Kudlow.

 

11/6/2018

   

China ready to discuss a trade solution with the U.S., but it won’t again be “bullied and oppressed” by foreign powers, according to Vice President Wang Qishan.

11/02/2018

 

Trump said to have asked cabinet to draft possible trade deal with China.

 

11/01/2018

Trump and Xi spoke in a phonecall, and Trump later sayshe thinks a deal will be reached.

   

11/01/2018

 

U.S. indicts a state-owned chipmaker Fujian Jinhuaand a Taiwanese firm for allegedly conspiring to steal trade secrets from U.S. chipmaker Micron Technology Inc.

 

11/01/2018

 

U.S. announced a new effort against Chinese economic espionage.

 

10/30/2018

 

U.S. charged 10 people, including two people it claimed were Chinese intelligence officers, as part of an alleged conspiracy to steal U.S. jet engine technology.

 

10/29/2018

 

U.S. announcedrestrictionson exports to chipmaker Fujian Jinhua.

 

10/29/2018

 

Trump predicted a "great deal" with Xi, and also said China isn’t ready.

 

10/29/2018

 

U.S. said to be planning more tariffs on China if meeting with Xi fails.

 

10/25/2018

 

The U.S. won’t resume talks with China without a firm proposal on tech, the WSJ reports.

 

10/23/2018

 

U.S. announced that Trump will meet with Xi at G-20 meeting.

 

10/21/2018

 

Kudlow said China refusingto engage on trade issues.

 

10/18/2018

   

China, the EU and others asked the WTO to investigate U.S. tariffs on metals imports.

10/18/2018

 

U.S. requested that a WTO dispute resolution panel get involved in a clash over retaliation against U.S. metals tariffs, Reuters reported.

 

10/17/2018

 

U.S. didn’t name China as a currency manipulator.

 

10/17/2018

 

U.S. announced it wants to withdraw from an international postal treaty which it claims unfairly benefits China.

 

10/17/2018

 

U.S.-China relations in "something of a hiatus," according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

 

10/14/2018

 

Trump said he "might" impose a third round of tariffs on China.

 

10/14/2017

China’s Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankaisaid the nation was forced to respond to a U.S. initiated trade war, and will defend its national interest.

   

10/12/2018

   

Chinese state media pushed back at accusations from Vice President Pence, and calls for U.S. to work to find a solution.

10/10/2018

 

U.S. extradited an alleged Chinese intelligence officer from Belgium on charges of trying to steal trade secrets from a U.S. aviation company.

 

10/08/2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeopublicly rebuked by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing.

   

10/05/2018

   

China said the Pence speech makes "unwarranted accusations."

10/4/2018

 

U.S. Vice President Pence made a speech attacking China.

 

10/03/2018

 

U.S. administration reviewing how it can stop exports that could help China surveil and intern minority Muslims, Reuters reports.

 

9/30/2018

   

A Chinese official called allegations of forced tech transfers a "misunderstanding."

9/26/2018

 

Trump accused China of interfering in U.S. elections, and said his friendship with Xi might be over.

 

9/26/2018

   

China announced it will cut some import tariffs from Nov. 1. Measure applies to all nations, not just U.S.

9/25/2018

 

Trump said China’s trade and economic abuses "cannot be tolerated."

 

9/25/2018

   

China’s commerce ministry said it can’t negotiate with a knife to its throat, and it’s up to the U.S. when to resume talks.

9/24/2018

   

China issued a White Paper putting its case on the trade dispute.

9/24/2018

 

U.S. imposed tariffs.

China also imposed tariffs.

9/22/2018

   

China calls off planned talks.

9/20/2018

 

U.S. imposedsanctionson Chinese defense equipment purchasing department.

 

9/18/2018

   

China announcedretaliation on $60 billion of U.S. goods to become effective simultaneously with the U.S. duties.

9/17/2018

 

U.S. announced 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese exports effective Sept. 24 until the end of 2018, to rise to 25 percent afterward.

 

9/6/2018

 

End of comment period for tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports.

 

8/23/2018

 

Tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese imports began.

Chinese retaliation of tariffs on $16 billion of U.S. exports began.

8/03/2018

   

China announced a list of $60 billion worth of U.S. imports it will apply tariffs on should the Trump administration follow through with higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

8/02/2018

 

U.S. Trade Representative confirmed that PresidentTrump was considering increasing proposed tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent.

 

7/31/2018

China, US. reported to be trying to restart trade talks.

   

7/26/2018

   

Qualcomm Inc. decided to scrap a $44 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors NV, because China didn’t sign off as time expired.

7/20/2018

 

Trump said he’s "ready to go" with tariffs on $500 billion of Chinese imports.

 

7/11/2018

 

The USTR released a list of $200 billion of Chinese goods it plans to impose an extra 10 percent tariffs on.

 

7/6/2018

 

Tariffs on $34 billion of imports began.

Tariffs on $34 billion of imports began.

7/6/2018

 

ZTE Corp. received limited authorization to resume business.

 

7/3/2018

   

U.S. computer chip company Micron Technology Inc.orderedto halt sales in China.

6/27/2018

 

Trump agreed to less aggressive option to limit Chinese investment in the U.S.

 

6/21/2018

   

Xi said China will hit back if struck, according to the Wall Street Journal, and criticized Pompeo, who had called Chinese claims of economic openness “a joke.”

6/20/2018

 

White House releasedreport accusing China of threatening U.S. interests.

 

6/19/2018

 

Trump said U.S. looking to put tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese exports, with another $200 billion after that if China retaliates.

 

6/18/2018

 

Pompeo called Chinese claims of economic openness “a joke.”

 

6/15/2018

 

U.S. announcedtariffs on $50 billion of imports from China, with Trump threatening more if China retaliates.

China responds in kind.

6/15/2018

   

Qualcomm Inc.’s takeover of NXP Semiconductors NV is said to be approved by Chinese regulators, although a later report contradicts this.

6/15/2018

Pompeo metXi, discussing trade and security.

   

6/7/2018

 

Rossannounced deal allowing ZTE to get back into business.

 

6/6/2018

   

China said to offer to buy $25 billion more of U.S. goods in 2018.

6/3/2018

   

China said previous offers and deals are off if tariffs imposed.

6/2-4/2018

Ross and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Hemet in Beijing for talks.

   

5/30/2018

   

China announced cuts to tariffs on some consumer goods, to start July 1.

5/29/2018

 

U.S. announced plan to limit some visas for Chinese citizens to protect intellectual property.

 

5/29/2018

 

U.S. announced that it’s moving ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of imports and a plan to curb investment in sensitive technology.

 

5/29/2018

   

China said to be considering buying more U.S. coal to narrow trade deficit.

5/28/2018

 

At the WTO, U.S. accused China of imposing laws that result in the theft of U.S. tech and IP.

 

5/28/2018

   

China ready to approve Qualcomm/NXP deal if it gets assurances that the U.S. will lift ban on ZTE Corp.

5/28/2018

 

U.S. said to be pressing China to sign long-term import contracts.

 

5/25/2018

 

U.S. announced a $1.3 billion fine and other punishments for ZTE, but will allow company to resume purchasing from American suppliers.

 

5/23/2018

 

Trump backed away from the previous day’s deal, saying U.S. will "probably have to use a different structure."

 

5/22/2018

   

China will cut import duties on cars to 15% from 25%.

5/22/2018

Two nations agreed on the "broad outline" of a settlement for ZTE dispute, the WSJ reported.

 

China offered to remove tariffs on U.S. farm products as part of the deal.

5/21/2018

 

Trump tweeted that China will buy "massive amounts of additional farm/agricultural products."

 

5/20/2018

Both nations reached an agreement and issued a joint statement.

The U.S. agreed to hold off on tariffs.

China offered to significantly increase purchases of U.S. goods.

5/18/2018

   

China ended anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum.

5/17/2018

Talks began in Washington.

   

5/14/2018

   

China is said to restart review of Qualcomm’s proposed NXP deal.

5/13/2018

 

Trump tweeted that he’s working with Xi to get ZTE "back into business."

 

5/10/2018

 

ZTE ceased major operations in the U.S.

 

5/3-4/2018

Trade talks in Beijing. No agreement reached, and no statement released.

U.S. demanded a $200 billion cut in trade deficit.

China protested over ZTE case, demands end of Section 301 investigation.

4/28/2018

   

China objected to being on U.S. intellectual property watch list.

4/27/2018

 

U.S. kept China on IP priority watch list of nations.

 

4/26/2018

   

Reported that China may cut car import tariffs by half.

4/26/2018

 

Reported that U.S. looking into China’s Huawei Technologies Co. for possible violation of sanctions against Iran.

 

4/17/2018

   

China announced it will collect anti-dumping tariffs on sorghum imports from the U.S., a trade worth about $1 billion in 2017.

4/16/2018

 

U.S. penalized China’s ZTEfor violating a previous agreement punishing it for doing business with Iran and North Korea. The company is banned from buying U.S. technology for seven years.

 

4/10/2018

   

Xi promised to open up various sectors including autos and finance.

4/5/2018

 

Trump issued statement that says “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” for his initial tariffs, his administration will consider an addition $100 billion in tariffs.

 

4/5/2018

   

China complained to the WTO about U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

4/4/2018

 

U.S. responded to China’s WTO complaint on the section 301 tariffs, calling it baseless.

 

4/4/2018

   

China complained to WTO about the section 301 tariff action by the U.S.

4/4/2018

   

China said it will levy an additional 25 percent tariff on imports of 106 U.S. products including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft, in response to proposed American duties on its high-tech goods.

4/3/2018

 

The U.S. released a list dominated by high-tech industrial products as targets for proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports. This is aimed at recouping losses from China’s alleged abuse of intellectual property.

 

4/2/2018

   

China said it will start levying tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports including fresh fruits, nuts, wine and pork. This is in response to U.S. tariffs on metals.

Early April

 

Liu He told other officials that trade talks between the two parties broke downafter the U.S. demanded that China curtail support for high-technology industries.

Beijing had offered to cut the bilateral trade deficit by $50 billion.

3/27/2018

 

U.S. released Section 301 report on China.

 

3/23/2018

   

China unveiled tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports in response to steel and aluminum tariffs .

3/23/2018

 

US complained to WTO about Chinese protection of IP.

 

3/22/2018

 

U.S. proposed tariffs in response to China’s "unfair trade practices” related to technology transfer, IP, and innovation; says it will complain to WTO and look at restricting investment from China.

 

3/9/2018

 

Trump signed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from all nations, including China.

 

2/4/2018

   

China started a one-year anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum imported from the U.S.

1/22/2018

 

U.S. imposed safeguard tariffs on washing machine and solar cell imports. While much of these imports don’t come from China, the statement makes clear that Chinese dominance of the global supply chain was a concern.

 

 

 

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