Saturday 24 August 2019

Trump praises 'great' Chinese president despite condemning 'unfair' trade

Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing ahead of talks on Thursday (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing ahead of talks on Thursday (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Donald Trump has hit out at the "very one-sided and unfair" trade relationship between the US and China, but stopped short of criticising Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Speaking after the announcement of new business deals between US and Chinese companies, the US president said Beijing "must immediately address the unfair trade practices that drive" what he said is a "shockingly" large trade deficit, along with barriers to market access, forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

"But I don't blame China," he added. "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?"

To applause, Mr Trump said: "I give China great credit."

His comments came during his second day in China and after lengthy meetings with Mr Xi.

The day included announcements that the US and China had signed agreements valued at more than 250 billion dollars (£190 billion) for products including US-made jet engines, motor parts, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and beef.

Such contract signings are a fixture of foreign leader visits to Beijing and are intended to defuse foreign complaints about China's trade policies.

Many of the new contracts appeared to represent purchases that Chinese mobile phone makers, airlines and other customers would have made anyway, but were saved to be announced during Mr Trump's visit.

It was unclear if the pledges extend beyond a US-China trade agreement announced in May that featured LNG and beef exports to China.

Mr Trump had made narrowing the multibillion-dollar US trade deficit with China a priority for his administration. During the presidential campaign, he accused Beijing of "raping our country" on trade and pledged to minimise the trade imbalance.

China's trade surplus with the US in October widened by 12.2% from a year earlier, to 26.6 billion dollars (£20.2 billion), according to Chinese customs data.

Mr Xi promised a more open business environment for foreign companies in China and said his country was committed to further opening its economy to foreign investment.

"China will not close its doors" and will open them "even wider", he said, pledging that foreign companies in China, including American ones, would find the market "more open, more transparent and more orderly".

Mr Xi said US-China relations were at a "new historic starting point", and declared: "The Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the United States."

Before arriving in China, Mr Trump had delivered a stern message to Beijing, using an address to the National Assembly in South Korea to call on China, North Korea's biggest trade partner, to do more to confront and isolate the antagonistic nation.

That included calling on China to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions aimed at depriving the North's government of revenue for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes

"You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept," he said.

On Thursday he appeared far more conciliatory, thanking China for its efforts and saying he had been encouraged by his conversations.

"China can fix this problem easily. And quickly. And I am calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard," Mr Trump said. "If he works on it hard it will happen. There's no doubt about it."

It was an optimistic tone Mr Trump stuck throughout the day. Earlier, said he looked "forward to many years of success and friendship working together to solve not only our problems, but world problems, and problems of great danger and security".

"I believe we can solve almost all of them, and probably all of them."


Mr Trump saluted the "growing friendship" between the United States and China at a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

He offered a toast to Chinese President Xi Jinping, touting bonds "that will only grow stronger and stronger".

He then introduced a video of his granddaughter Arabella, the daughter of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, singing a traditional Chinese song in Mandarin.

The dinner capped off two days of pageantry and negotiations between Mr Xi and Mr Trump. At the dinner, neither man made mention of thorny issues like trade and attempts to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.


PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News