US President Donald Trump on Friday hit out at China for “fleecing” his country with hundreds of billions of dollars every year, even as high-level delegations from the two countries were holding intense negotiations in Washington over a series of trade disputes between them.
“China has taken our hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the United States. And I explained to (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping), we can’t do that anymore, we just can’t do that anymore. It’s a much different situation,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“But with all the years and all the years that you covered trade and nations and wars and everything else, you’ve never seen people come over from China to work on a trade deal. Now, will that be successful? I tend to doubt it,” he said.
The reason, he said, he doubts it is because China has become “very spoiled”. China was not the only country to face Trump’s criticism in this regard. “The European Union has become very spoiled, other countries have become very spoiled, because they always got 100 per cent of whatever they wanted from the US,” Trump said.
“But we can’t allow that to happen anymore. We’re an incredible country. We have incredible potential. The potential we have is incredible. We lost USD 800 billion on trade last year, if you add it all up. Of which, China was around the USD 500 billion mark,” Trump said, asserting that the US is not going to be doing that any longer.
Trump said he does not blame China for this. “I blame our leadership of this country from the past. We have been ripped off by China. An evacuation of wealth like no country has ever seen before given to another country that’s rebuilt itself based on a lot of the money they’ve taken out of the United States. And that’s not going to happen anymore,” he asserted.
Responding to a question on his recent decision on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE, in which he appears to be giving concessions to it, Trump said he did this out of respect for President Xi who requested him in this regard. “ZTE was a company that I spoke to with President Xi. He asked me if I’d look at that because it was very harmful to them in terms of their jobs and probably other things. And I certainly said I would — he asked me to do it and I would do that — I would certainly — out of great respect,” he said.
Trump said that it was his administration that took strong action against ZTE. “I put very strong clamps on ZTE. It did very bad things to our country and our economy. It also buys a large portion of parts for its phones and is the fourth largest company in terms of that industry. It buys the parts from the US. That’s a lot of business,” he said. “So have a lot of companies that won’t be selling those parts. But President Xi asked me to look at it. I said I would look at it. But anything we do with ZTE just a small component of the overall deal,” he said.
Trump exuded confidence that the US is going to come out fine with China. “Hopefully China’s going to be happy. I think we will be happy. As the expression goes, when you’re losing USD 500 billion a year on trade you can’t lose the trade war, you’ve already lost it,” Trump said as he blamed earlier administrations for the crisis. And those days are gone, those days are over, he said.