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Thursday 18 October 2018

'US will no longer be taken advantage of on trade' - Trump tells Apec summit

Security and trade have dominated Mr Trump's trip to Asia (AP)
Security and trade have dominated Mr Trump's trip to Asia (AP)

President Donald Trump has delivered what appeared to be a sharp rebuke to China, declaring that he will not allow the US to be "taken advantage of anymore" when it comes to trade.

Speaking at a gathering of CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit in Danang, Vietnam, hours after leaving Beijing, he said: "From this day forward we will compete on a fair and equal basis."

"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first," he said.

It was a striking change of tone from the day before, when Mr Trump set aside his previous blistering rhetoric in favour of friendly overtures to China as he sought to flatter his host into establishing a more balanced trade relationship, rather than lecturing.

In Beijing, he criticised the "very one-sided and unfair" relationship between the US and China. But, unlike his approach during the presidential campaign, when he castigated China for what he contended were inappropriate trade practices, Mr Trump said on Thursday that he did not blame the Chinese for having taken advantage of the US in the past.

He said China "must immediately address the unfair trade practices" that drive 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 said. "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?"

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

Mr Trump also said on Friday that the whole world was being lifted by America's economic renewal, and that a "new optimism" has swept across the US since his election.

He said he had had the pleasure of sharing the "good news from America" everywhere he has been on his first official visit to Asia.

"The whole world is lifted by America's renewal," he said.

Mr Trump also continued his tough talk against North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

He told the Apec audience that the region's future "must not be held hostage to a dictator's twisted fantasies of violent conquest and nuclear blackmail" - referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr Trump referenced his address in South Korea earlier this week when he called on countries to unite against North Korea, saying "every single step the North Korea regime takes toward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater danger".

He also said civilised people must "come together" to drive out terrorists and extremists from our societies.

Press Association

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