Timeline of US-China tensions

WASHINGTON • A Chinese demand that the US shut its Chengdu consulate is the latest chapter in a dramatic worsening of ties between the world's two biggest economies over the past two years. Here is a timeline of some key developments:


  • Jan 22: US President Donald Trump imposes tariffs on all imported washing machines and solar panels, including those from China.
  • March 8: Mr Trump orders 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium from all suppliers, including from China.
  • April 2: China imposes tariffs of up to 25 per cent on 128 American products, including airplanes and soya beans.
  • April 3: Mr Trump unveils plans for 25 per cent tariffs on about US$50 billion (S$69.3 billion) of Chinese imports.
  • Aug 22: A New York court issues an arrest warrant for Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies.
  • Sept 24: 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports kick in. The administration says the rate will increase to 25 per cent on Jan 1, 2019. China taxes US$60 billion of US goods.


  • Aug 1: Mr Trump announces 10 per cent tariffs on US$300 billion in Chinese imports after two days of talks with no progress.
  • Aug 5: China halts purchases of US agricultural products.
  • Aug 13: Mr Trump postpones some of the 10 per cent tariffs on the US$300 billion goods list until Dec 15.
  • Aug 23: China announces additional retaliatory tariffs on about US$75 billion worth of US goods.
  • Sept 20: The US Trade Representative issues tariff exclusions on about 400 Chinese products.
  • Oct 7: The US Commerce Department puts 28 Chinese companies on its "entity list", restricting the sale of US goods and technology to them over their alleged involvement in human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
  • Oct 11: After two days of high-level talks, Mr Trump announces a phase 1 trade deal that includes a suspension of planned tariffs and a Chinese pledge to buy more US farm goods.


  • Jan 11: A 61-year-old Chinese man reportedly dies in Wuhan from a new type of coronavirus.
  • Jan 27: The US warns against travel to China, a day after five people who had been in Wuhan become the first confirmed cases in America.
  • Feb 1: The US, Singapore, Russia and Australia ban foreign travellers who were recently in China.
  • March 17: Beijing withdraws the press credentials of American journalists working for three US newspapers in China.
  • May 28: China's Parliament overwhelmingly approves imposing national security legislation on Hong Kong. Mr Trump orders his administration to begin the process of eliminating special US treatment for Hong Kong.
  • June 22: Washington says it will start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, alleging that they are mouthpieces for Beijing.
  • July 1: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls the Hong Kong law an affront to all nations and says Washington will pursue Mr Trump's directive to end the territory's special status.
  • July 13: Washington rejects Beijing's claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, drawing criticism from China, which says the US position raises tension in the region.
  • July 22: The US tells China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas.
  • July 23: Mr Pompeo accuses the Chinese consulate in Houston of being a spying hub for "intellectual property theft" and calls on US allies to pressure China.
  • July 24: China tells the US to close its consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2020, with the headline Timeline of US-China tensions. Subscribe