Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei slams Donald Trump's trade policies, calls him 'irrational': WSJ

Chinese Foreign Minister criticised US presidential candidate Donald Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese Foreign Minister criticised US presidential candidate Donald Trump in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.PHOTO: AFP

Outspoken Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei has become the most senior Chinese leader to directly comment on Donald Trump, calling the US presidential front runner "irrational" and saying the US "wouldn't be entitled to world leadership" if it followed Mr Trump's proposed hardline trade policies towards China.

Mr Lou said in an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Sunday (April 17) that Mr Trump's idea of imposing up to 45-per-cent tariffs on China would violate World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

"Trump is an irrational type. If he were to do this, that would be in violation of the rules set by the World Trade Organisation," said Mr Lou when asked to comment on Mr Trump's protectionist policies.

"If the US were to do what he proposed, then the US would not be entitled to its position as the world's major power," added Mr Lou, who was giving the interview on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Washington over the weekend.

"The US needs to recognise that the US and China are mutually dependent on each other. Our economic cycles are intertwined. We have more in common than sets us apart."

He urged the US to increase its public and private investment as a way to improve the US economy and make a contribution to global economic growth.

He argued China had done its part in 2009 during the global financial crisis by putting in place a large stimulus programme which in turn spurred global growth.

“China’s efforts helped the world,” he said. “Now the US needs to do more to help the world” through increased investment.

But Mr Lou signalled that he thought China-US ties would remain on even keel under a new US president.

"Don't take the rhetoric in a presidential campaign too seriously...With a new administration, US-China ties should be more or less as they are now," he told WSJ.

In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang remarked that the US election was "lively" without commenting directly on Mr Trump. 

China's foreign ministry declines to answer repeated questions about the New York businessman or other US presidential candidates, who have also accused China of treating the US unfairly in trade or taking away American jobs.

China this year leads the Group of 20 makor economies and the weekend meeting of the bloc's finance ministers was co-chaired by Mr Lou.

He told his counterparts that China was taking steps to implement more forceful fiscal policies including increasing its deficit, reducing taxes and dropping costs, Reuters reported.

China will also take measures to unwind production capacity and inventory in the iron, steel and coal industries, as well as train and provide arrangements for those who lose their jobs, he said.

Many participants said Beijing's efforts to stabilise its economy have temporarily eased global fears tied to the world's No. 2 economy, WSJ reported. "There was not the same level of anxiety," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was quoted as saying.

But in more hard-hitting comments, Mr Lou accused international credit-rating companies of “bias” against China after Standard & Poor’s Rating Services and Moody’s Investors Service lowered their sovereign outlooks from stable to negative. 

He noted that China's first quarter growth rate of 6.7 per cent was still very high and in line with China’s target range of 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent.