While speaking to journalists at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Aug. 21 that his life would be easier if he had not mounted a trade war with China, but he was “the chosen one” to take on Beijing.
The comments echoed remarks he made the day prior, while speaking with reporters after a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who was visiting the White House.
He said he had to confront Beijing over unfair trade practices because the latter had been cheating America for decades.
“Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically. We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents, but I took it on,” he said.
“China has been ripping this country off for 25 years—for longer than that. And it’s about time, whether it’s good for our country or bad for our country short term.”
In March 2018, a Section 301 investigation, conducted by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, concluded that Beijing was engaging in state-sponsored intellectual property theft. That investigation prompted the U.S. administration to impose punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, precipitating the current trade war.
On Aug. 1, Trump announced new tariffs of 10 percent to be imposed in September on another $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, including smartwatches, smart speakers, and Bluetooth headphones. Some of the new tariffs have since been postponed until mid-December.
Trump pointed out that China had lost about 2 million jobs, apparently in reference to data from the Chinese investment bank, China International Capital Corp., which said that China’s industrial sector had lost 1.8 million to 1.9 million jobs in the past year as a result of the trade war.
Many international companies have relocated their production to countries such as Vietnam and Mexico to avoid the U.S. tariffs.
Trump also said on Tuesday that he was not yet ready to make a trade deal with China. “China has had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years. And they want to make a deal with us, but I can tell you I’m not ready to make a deal. Unless they’re going to make the right kind of a deal, I’m not ready to make a deal,” Trump said.
He added: “China wants to make a deal, and that’s good. But they have to make a deal that’s fair to us. It can’t be a deal that’s not fair to us.”
“The Chinese Communist Party has used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade—policies like tariffs and quotas, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and industrial subsidies” since Beijing became a member of the World Trade Organization, Pence said.
“The time has come for China to come to the table, open their markets, and live by the rules of international commerce like every other industrialized nation does,” Pence added.
Pence also said that before any trade deal, China must honor the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and not resort to any violence to resolve the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
In his Wednesday remarks, Trump also addressed the Hong Kong issue, saying that “I hope Hong Kong works out in a very humane way.”