US Elections 2016

Clinton takes firm stand against China, TPP

Mrs Clinton tours Futuramic Tool and Engineering before giving her speech in Warren, Michigan.
Mrs Clinton tours Futuramic Tool and Engineering before giving her speech in Warren, Michigan.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Mrs Hillary Clinton has said that she would defend United States' interests against China and reject the proposed Pacific trade agreement as she struck a tough tone on global economic issues.

Mrs Clinton was speaking to a crowd in Warren, Michigan, just three days after presidential rival, Mr Donald Trump, laid out his own economic plan, and she sought to highlight their fundamental differences.

The former secretary of state, leading in national polls with less than three months before the election, also sought to expose the "myth" that New York billionaire Mr Trump would punish the rich and side with working- and middle-class Americans when it comes to economic policy.

"Now, there is a myth out there that he will stick it to the rich and powerful because somehow he's really on the side of the little guy," she told the crowd in Warren on Thursday. "Don't believe it," she said.

"He would give trillions in tax cuts to big corporations, millionaires and Wall Street money managers," she added. "That would explode our national debt and eventually lead to massive cuts in priorities like education, healthcare and environmental protection."


Mr Trump's opposition to trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) has become a main policy platform for the real estate tycoon, and he has sought to win support from American workers badly impacted by globalisation, painting Mrs Clinton as a reckless backer of such agreements.

Mrs Clinton said: "My message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this: I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership," she said.

"I oppose it now, I'll oppose it after the election, and I'll oppose it as president."

Mrs Clinton's position on trade is a vulnerability in the election.

In 1993, her husband, Mr Bill Clinton, signed Nafta into law. It became very unpopular in some communities as companies relocated to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labour, a result Mr Trump routinely highlights at campaign stops.

While Mrs Clinton came out late last year against the TPP negotiated by President Barack Obama and 11 other countries, many critics, including Mr Trump, have hit her for having promoted the pact during the negotiation phase as the "gold standard" for trade deals.

In Michigan, she adopted a firm tone, pledging to get tough with Beijing and saying the world's second-largest economy has "gamed the system" for too long.

"I will stand up to China and anyone else who tries to take advantage of American workers and companies," she said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton takes firm stand against China, TPP'. Print Edition | Subscribe