President Trump gave notice on social media to China that there may not be an end to the trade war if the Chinese government continues to resort to “violence” to quiet protestors in Hong Kong.
Then again, at the airport, the president took an even tougher stance than he did on social media. He warned that a trade deal would not be possible if the Chinese government used force to crack down on demonstrators in Hong Kong, who largely have been protesting against an extradition bill proposed by Hong Kong’s government that would permit certain extraditions to mainland China.
“I think it’d be very hard to deal if they do violence, I mean, if it’s another Tiananmen Square,” Trump said. “I think it’s a very hard thing to do if there’s violence.”
Trump then touched on his tariff talks with Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“I had a very good meeting with Tim Cook,” Trump said at an airport in New Jersey, on his way back to the White House. “I have a lot of respect for Tim Cook, and Tim was talking to me about tariffs. And, one of the things, and he made a good case, is that Samsung is their number-one competitor, and Samsung is not paying tariffs because they’re based in South Korea.”
Trump continued: “It’s tough for Apple to pay tariffs if they’re competing with a very good company that’s not. I said, ‘How good a competitor?’ He said they’re a very good competitor. … I thought he made a very compelling argument, so I’m thinking about it.”
The President also commented on Huawei, responding to reports that the U.S. government was open to doing business with them.
“I don’t want to do business at all because it is a national security threat,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. I’m making a decision tomorrow.”
Throughout, Apple has focused its political capital on preserving its profit margins. In June, the company wrote to Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, to urge the administration not to pursue tariffs against China.
“The proposed tariff list covers all of Apple’s major products, including iPhone, iPad, Mac, AirPods, and AppleTV, as well as the parts and batteries used to repair products in the United States,” Apple said.
“U.S. tariffs on Apple’s products would result in a reduction of Apple’s U.S. economic contribution,” the company continued. “U.S. tariffs would also weigh on Apple’s global competitiveness. The Chinese producers we compete with in global markets do not have a significant presence in the U.S. market, and so would not be impacted by U.S. tariffs.”
Prior to Cook’s dinner with the President, Apple highlighted its growing investments in the U.S. economy.
“A significant amount of the jobs Apple supports in the US are found in the booming app economy, which is currently responsible for 1.9 million American jobs — an increase of 325,000 in the last two and a half years,” Apple wrote in the release.
The company noted that it directly “employs 90,000 employees in all 50 states, putting the company on track to create 20,000 new jobs across the US by 2023.”
For his part, Trump seemed receptive to the overtures even before his latest face-to-face with Apple’s CEO.
“Having dinner tonight with Tim Cook of Apple. They will be spending vast sums of money in the U.S. Great!” Trump tweeted on Friday night from Bedminster, New Jersey, where the two also dined last August.