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Trump rips China in UNGA speech

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Trump Xi
President
Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago
state in Palm Beach, Florida.

Reuters/Carlos Barria

  • President Donald Trump launched a broadside aimed at China’s
    trade policies and economic practices during a speech to the UN
    General Assembly on Tuesday.
  • Trump said China’s trade and economic policies “cannot be
    tolerated” anymore.
  • China joined Iran, Syria, and Venezuela as the main targets
    of Trump’s ire during the speech.
  • Tuesday’s speech was also much harsher on China than Trump’s
    2017 UN address, while the president’s previous criticism of
    North Korea turned to cautious praise.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday went after China during a
speech to the UN General Assembly, taking direct aim at Beijing’s
trade practices and economic system.

“I have great respect and affection for my friend president Xi
[Jinping], but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just
not acceptable,” Trump said. “China’s market distortions and the
way they deal cannot be tolerated.”

The president’s harsh rebuke of China comes in the midst of a
growing
trade war
between the two countries.

On Monday, the US formally imposed
tariffs on another $200 billion
worth of Chinese goods,
prompting
Beijing to hit $60 billion worth of US goods
with tariffs of
their own. The total value of goods between the two countries now
subject to tariffs sits at $360 billion.

Amid the latest round of tariffs,
China scrapped plans
to hold trade negotiations with the US.

The
tariffs
are necessary, Trump said, to force the Chinese to
make changes to its economic system,
reduce the trade deficits
between the US and China, and
safeguard US industries.

“The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly
a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China
joined” the World Trade Organization, Trump said.

He added: “And we have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits
over the last two decades, but those days are over. We will no
longer tolerate such abuse, we will not allow our workers to be
victimized, our companies to be cheated and our wealth to be
plundered and transferred.”

Most economists agree that Trump’s focus on trade deficits is
misguided at best and say the likelihood tariffs lead to more
manufacturing jobs in the US is low. They say the tariffs are
likely to end up
hurting American companies
and
consumers
.

At the same time, trade experts and economists say China’s
practices, such as the theft of US intellectual property, should
be addressed. But whether tariffs are the most effective tactic,
especially since China has so far dug in rather than come to the
negotiating table, remains to be seen.

China joined Venezuela, Syria, and Iran as the main focuses of
Trump’s ire during the speech, while North Korea fell from the
president’s pantheon of wrongdoers. The 2018 edition of Trump’s
speech was much harsher toward Beijing than the 2017 vintage.


During last year’s speech
, the president placed most of the
blame for the US’s trade ills on “mammoth multinational
trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful
global bureaucracies,” while only briefly mentioning countries
that “gamed the system and broke the rules.”

The only direct mention of China was when Trump thanked the
country, along with Russia, for upholding sanctions on North
Korea.

North Korea, on the other hand, went from on of Trump’s
main targets in 2017 to an object of cautious praise in 2018.
Last year, Trump derisively called Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket
Man,” but on Tuesday the president thanked the North Korean
leader for “his courage and the steps he’s taken” in negotiations
over the rogue state’s nuclear ambitions.

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