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President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a press conference on China on Friday from the White House Rose Garden as tensions with the country continue to escalate.
Stocks dropped after Trump announced news conference on Thursday on fears that the president will impose new sanctions or trade barriers. Ahead of the conference, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its session low, after giving up 300 points on Thursday in the hour after the news hit.
Trade fears have risen as the U.S. and China continue feud over blame for the spreading coronavirus pandemic that tanked global markets in March and has threatened to stall progress on the Phase 1 trade deal reached earlier this year.
Relations were strained further this week after China imposed new national security legislation on Hong Kong, defying Washington and prompting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to report to Congress that he no longer viewed the former British colony as autonomous from the rest of China.
Separately, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the country’s western region of Xinjiang. The Senate voted to approve the legislation earlier this month. Trump has not said whether he intends to sign it into law.
While Trump has harshly criticized the Chinese over their handling of Covid-19, he has so far been reluctant to take action that would turn the relationship between the U.S. and China into outright hostility or jeopardize the Phase 1 trade deal that has been touted as one of his administration’s signature achievements.
The presidential election between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the apparent Democratic nominee, takes place in less than six months.
— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.