Cramer worries Trump will start ramping up pressure on China even more

Investing

CNBC’s Jim Cramer  is worried President Donald Trump‘s administration will keep applying pressure to China into the election, creating a headwind for the market. 

“I think that the president is keeping the heat on. I expect more negatives about China,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street.”

Cramer’s remarks Thursday come as the relationship between the U.S. and China continues to grow increasingly frigid, following a brief cooling in January after the two sides agreed to a phase-one trade agreement. However, China is reportedly far from meeting its commitments on goods purchases under the deal, which was reached after a back-and-forth tariff war between the world’s two largest economies that began in 2018.  

At a White House briefing Monday, Trump said the trade deal now means “very little in the overall import of things,” then again criticized China’s handling of the coronavirus and blamed the country for the pandemic. 

“We view China differently than we did eight months ago. Very much differently,” said Trump, who had initially praised China’s coronavirus response but now argues its government was not transparent in sharing information on the initial outbreak. 

While the virus emerged from Wuhan, China, public health experts say the U.S. government’s failure to act quickly to contain the virus, as well as a lack of coordination between federal and state entities, are partly responsible for America having more reported cases of Covid-19 than any other country. 

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to CNBC that Trump “is constantly reviewing our relations with China.” But the president has “nothing to announce at this time,” Deere added. 

The Trump administration has also ratcheted up scrutiny of Chinese tech companies — specifically ByteDance, which owns the social media video app TikTok, and Tencent, which owns the messaging app WeChat. 

Last week, Trump signed a pair of executive orders that banned U.S. firms from transacting with ByteDance and Tencent‘s WeChat. The orders go into effect in September, although there is still some confusion over how they would be implemented. 

Business leaders from major American companies including Ford Motor Co. and Disney voiced their concerns over a WeChat ban to the White House earlier this week, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal

Tensions between the U.S. and China also have intensified over Beijing’s sweeping national security law it imposed on Hong Kong this summer. The Trump administration recently sanctioned 11 people, including Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. 

The U.S. Treasury Department said it was targeting Lam for “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes” in the former British colony. 

China responded with its own batch of sanctions on U.S. officials, including Republican U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. 

CNBC’s Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report. 

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