US President Donald Trump has said that ties with China have improved, but also warned that the relationship could be derailed over trade disputes as Beijing is “absolutely killing us” on this.
The Trump administration has threatened tough action against China including punitive tariffs, sanctions and even a trade war.
Tensions have escalated between Beijing and Washington in recent months, with China reporting a record $275.8 billion trade surplus with the US, contrary to Trump’s goal to narrow the US trade deficit with China.
“I have to say, we’ve developed a great relationship with China, other than the fact that they’ve been killing us on trade for the last long period of time… killing us, absolutely killing the United States on trade. But we have developed a great relationship with China; probably closer than we’ve ever had,” Trump told reporters at a joint White House news conference.
Trump said his personal relationship with President Xi Jinping is quite extraordinary.
“He’s somebody that I like and I think he likes me. With that being said, he likes China and I like the United States. But a lot of things are happening. It’s going to be a very interesting period of time,” he said.
But his administration, he asserted, has to straighten out the trade imbalance with China, he said. “So much (trade imbalance), it’s no good,” he said.
China, he conceded, is tough and getting stronger. “They’re getting stronger, to a large extent, with a lot of the money they’ve made from having poor leadership in the US, because the US leadership has allowed them to get away with murder,” he said.
“With that being said, I think we can have a truly great, even trading relationship with China. Hopefully, that’s going to work out. And hopefully, the relationship I have with President Xi will make that happen. Only time will tell,” he noted.
According to Trump, trade is the only thing that comes between having better relationship with China.
“The only thing that can get in its way is trade, because it’s so one-sided, it’s so lopsided. And the people that stood here for many years, in this position, right where I am right now, should never have allowed that to happen. It’s very unfair to the United States, and it’s very unfair to the workers of the United States. Very, very unfair,” he rued. “Even today, it’s extremely hard on companies that want to do business in China, because the barriers are incredible, whereas the barriers coming into our country are foolishly not. Foolishly. I believe in reciprocal trade. If they do something to us, we do something to them,” he said.
“Well, that never happened, and it’s gotten worse and worse over the years. But we’ll correct it. That can be the only thing that can get in the way of a truly long-term great relationship. Because we have all the ingredients for friendship,” said the US President.
The US Commerce Department recently recommended imposing heavy tariffs on China and other countries to counter a global glut in steel and aluminum.
Beijing has warned it could take retaliatory action if necessary.