US Republican lawmakers recently reintroduced a bill that would revoke the permanent normal trading status that the United States has had with China for the last 20 years. Blaming China for the loss of US manufacturing jobs and accusing it of forced labour, three lawmakers put forward the ‘China Trade Relations Act’, which would require approval of regular trade relations annually.

The bill would give Congress the power to override the president’s decision, according to global newswires.

The Permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status was passed by Congress and signed into law by then-president Bill Clinton in 2000, allowing the two sides to align the bilateral trade relationship with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which China acceded to a few months later.

This was the latest in a series of efforts by China hawks in the US Congress to decouple the two economies.

This legislation is being reintroduced as the Joe Biden administration prepares for the first high-level meetings with Beijing since former secretary of state Mike Pompeo met Yang Jiechi, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign affairs office, in Hawaii in June for a round of talks that produced no consensus.

Last month, the House of Representatives reintroduced sweeping legislation that would ban the import of all goods sourced in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, over concerns of widespread, state-backed forced labour there.