Will the coronavirus make or break the phase one trade deal?

“China is likely considering using a disaster-related clause in its Phase 1 trade deal with the United States due to the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 500 and infected tens of thousands, the Global Times reported on Thursday,” according to Reuters. (We could not find the Global Times source article — perhaps it has been deleted.)

There is a completely different view in an article on the Global Times English-language website:

In the mid-term, some Americans doubt if China is able to fulfil its commitment made in the Phase I deal with the United States; however, China’s purchase of U.S. agricultural products is expected to reach a new high for the deal has greatly wiped off the uncertainty of China-U.S. trade relations; besides, due to the epidemic, China is very likely to increase purchase of other products, such as medical equipment and supplies.

Lending weight to that view is this news, from the South China Morning Post:

China announced on Thursday that it will halve additional tariffs on $75 billion of American products imposed late last year from next week, a sign that Beijing is implementing the phase one deal with United States despite the coronavirus outbreak.

—Jeremy Goldkorn