Earlier on Tuesday, Washington said it was still considering slapping 25% tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods in retaliation for what the Trump administration says are China's unfair trade practices.
The United States said on Tuesday that it still holds the threat of imposing tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China and will use it unless Beijing addresses the issue of theft of American intellectual property.
This includes products related to the "Made in China 2025" program. The list of targeted goods will be announced by June 15 and imposed shortly after, the White House said.
China responded the next day with a $50 billion list of its own, which heavily targeted agricultural and chemical products and which Beijing has vowed to impose as soon as the USA moves forward with its tariffs.
When he announced the initial plan to impose tariffs, the president also instructed the Treasury Department to draw up new curbs on investments in the U.S.by Chinese companies.
Then, in a surprise announcement on Tuesday - timed just ahead of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' arrival in Beijing on Saturday - the White House said that tariffs are back on.
In the announcement, the US government listed a range of grievances against Chinese trade practices, ranging from product dumping to industrial subsidies to forced technology transfer.
The instructions also say that Chinese citizens seeking visas will need special clearance from multiple U.S. agencies if they work as researchers or managers for companies on a U.S. Commerce Department list of entities requiring higher scrutiny.
The tariff will apply to products "containing industrially significant technology".
"We're putting the trade war on hold", Mnuchin told Fox News last weekend. After Trump administration officials traveled to China at the start of the month, a Chinese delegation came to Washington two weeks later. "Even a doubling of China's imports from the USA over 10 years would reduce the gap by only about $100 billion, compared to 2017 levels". Republican Senator Marco Rubio and other lawmakers from both parties have criticized Trump's leniency toward ZTE, arguing that doing business with the company presents a risk to national security.
But Chinese media had noted that the deal with the U.S. could see some Australian imports sidelined, including beef and wine, which had gained preferential access under Australia's Free Trade Agreement with China.
Separately, on Friday, the US reached a deal on ZTE Corp. that will allow the Chinese telecommunications giant to remain in business. "Discussions with China will continue on these topics and the U.S. looks forward to resolving long-standing structural issues and expanding our exports by eliminating China's severe import restrictions", the statement said.