Any deal with China can't be 50-50: Trump

In his interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump said he believed China would eventually make a deal with the US.
In his interview with Fox News, President Donald Trump said he believed China would eventually make a deal with the US.

He says it must be more in favour of the US, signalling he is in no rush to resume talks on trade war

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has said that any trade agreement with China cannot be a "50-50" deal, and had to be more in favour of the United States because of past trade practices by China.

His comments, made in an interview with Fox News Channel recorded last week and aired on Sunday night, signal he is in no rush to get back to negotiating with Beijing after talks to end the trade war fell apart earlier this month.

Mr Trump said that the US and China "had a very strong deal, we had a good deal, and they changed it. And I said that's OK, we're going to tariff their products".

Mr Trump, who said the interview with Fox News host Steve Hilton took place two days after he raised the tariffs, said he would be happy to simply keep tariffs on Chinese products, because the US would be taking in US$100 billion (S$138 billion) or more in tariffs.

But he added that he believed China would eventually make a deal with the US "because they're getting killed with the tariffs, China's getting totally killed".

He said he had told Chinese President Xi Jinping before the most recent rounds of talks that any deal could not be "50-50" between the two countries.

He also said he was "very happy" with the trade war and that China would not become the world's top superpower under his watch.

 
 
 
 
 

No further trade talks between top Chinese and US trade negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended on May 10 - the same day that Mr Trump raised the tariff rate on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

China retaliated by raising tariffs on about US$60 billion worth of US goods, ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent, to take effect on June 1.

The US President took the step after alleging that China had backtracked on its commitments, by seeking major changes to a deal that US officials said had been largely agreed on.

Since then, China has struck a tougher tone in its rhetoric, suggesting a resumption of talks to end the 10-month trade war between the world's two largest economies is unlikely to happen soon.

At a briefing yesterday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: "Between countries, trade and investment must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. As for what countermeasures the Chinese government and enterprises will take, please wait and see."

Mr Trump also said in the Fox News interview that Democratic presidential candidate and former US vice-president Joe Biden should be investigated over a conservative author's allegation that Mr Biden's son Hunter took advantage of his father's position to sign a lucrative business deal with state-controlled Bank of China. The allegation was made in writer Peter Schweizer's 2018 book Secret Empires.

Asked if this should be investigated, Mr Trump said: "One-hundred per cent. It's a disgrace and then (Mr Joe Biden) says China's not a competitor of ours. China is a massive competitor of ours. They want to take over the world."

Mr Trump noted his tariffs on Chinese goods are causing firms to move production out of China to Vietnam and other nations in Asia.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday that Taiwan can take advantage of the trade war to further ease its economic dependence on China. "'Made in Taiwan' has become a top keyword as the US-China trade war continues," she said at a news conference in Taipei marking the third anniversary of her time in office.

Ms Tsai, who is a staunch defender of Taiwan's independence from China and is seeking re-election in January, used the opportunity to tout her government's "Made in Taiwan upgrade" policy, aimed at exporting the country's expertise in artificial intelligence, green energy and technology.

Taiwan has had its own government since 1949, when Chinese nationalists fled there after losing a civil war to the communists.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG, DPA

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Any deal with China can't be 50-50: Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe