WASHINGTON—Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Sunday he would take steps to revoke China’s permanent normal trade relations status if he won the 2024 White House race.

“I favor doing that. I think we probably need Congress but I would take executive action as appropriate to be able to move us in that direction,” Mr. DeSantis said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.

The U.S. Senate voted in 2000 to grant that status to China as it prepared to join the World Trade Organization. Any step to remove it would also need congressional approval. The status is a legal designation in the United States for free trade with a foreign nation.

U.S.–China relations have been tense for years over national security issues including Taiwan, U.S. export bans on advanced technologies, the Chinese regime’s state-led industrial policies, human rights issues, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and trade tariffs.

Washington has been trying to repair ties between the world’s two biggest economies. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said over the weekend that her meetings with senior Chinese officials in recent days were “direct” and “productive,” helping stabilize the superpowers’ often rocky relationship as her four-day Beijing trip ended.

China is “the No. 1 geopolitical threat this country faces,” Mr. DeSantis added in the interview.

Former President Donald Trump, who leads the Republican field currently in the polls with Mr. DeSantis a distant second, has said he would give the Chinese regime a 48-hour deadline to get out of its spy facility on the island of Cuba 90 miles off the U.S. coast.

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