Trade sur­plus un­fair but Trump won’t ‘blame China’

Business World - - THEWORLD -

BEI­JING — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump de­cried his coun­try’s “onesided and un­fair” trade deficit with Bei­jing on Thurs­day, but he told Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping: “I don’t blame China.”

At a sign­ing cer­e­mony for over $250 bil­lion in US-Chi­nese busi­ness deals in Bei­jing, Mr. Trump said: “After all, who can blame a coun­try for be­ing able to take ad­van­tage of an­other coun­try for the sake of its cit­i­zens?”

Mr. Trump at­tempted to shift the blame away from Mr. Xi to prior US lead­ers, say­ing they had mis­han­dled the prob­lem. “I give China great credit, but in ac­tu­al­ity I do blame past ad­min­is­tra­tions for al­low­ing this out-of­con­trol trade deficit to take place,” Mr. Trump said. “It is just not sus­tain­able.”

Mr. Xi nod­ded as Mr. Trump said he doesn’t blame China for the trade im­bal­ance. In his own re­marks, he did not ad­dress Mr. Trump’s charges of un­fair trade prac­tices di­rectly but said he is com­mit­ted to open­ing up his econ­omy. He cited the new deals as “great ex­am­ples” of the po­ten­tial “win­win na­ture” of ties.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ag­gres­sively pur­sued trade reme­dies in com­mer­cial re­la­tions with Bei­jing — in­ves­ti­gat­ing Chi­nese trade prac­tices on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and in alu­minum and steel.

Al­leged Chi­nese mis­deeds in com­merce were a main­stay of Mr. Trump’s pop­ulist cam­paign for the White House but since tak­ing of­fice he has re­frained from la­bel­ing Bei­jing a cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor.

Mr. Xi has sought to cast him­self as a cham­pion of glob­al­iza­tion as the US re­treats be­hind Mr. Trump’s “Amer­ica First” pol­icy.

But US and Eu­ro­pean firms still com­plain about be­ing barred from cer­tain sec­tors and forced to share their tech­nolo­gies with lo­cal com­peti­tors to gain ac­cess in some in­dus­tries.

Speak­ing after talks with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part, Mr. Trump said that China has to take greater ac­tion on mar­ket ac­cess, forced tech­nol­ogy trans­fers and theft of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

“We have to fix this be­cause it just doesn’t work, for our great Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, and it doesn’t work for our great Amer­i­can work­ers,” he said.

Mr. Xi de­liv­ered a brief speech fol­low­ing Mr. Trump’s re­marks, where he said China wel­comed the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness com­mu­nity.

“I will en­cour­age Chi­nese busi­nesses to do more in­vest­ment in US and at the same time, in­vite more US com­pa­nies to take part in One Belt One Road,” Mr. Xi added.

He was re­fer­ring to China’s Silk Road project to re­vive an­cient trade routes with a mas­sive net­work of rail and mar­itime links.

An­nu­ally, the US runs a steep trade deficit in goods with China of about $350 bil­lion.

“We may have dif­fer­ences from time to time,” Xi said, but both na­tions will gain from in­creased trade.

In later joint state­ments, Messrs. Trump and Xi both said they’re com­mit­ted to forc­ing North Korea to give up its nu­clear weapons, even as the Chi­nese leader pub­licly of­fered no new ini­tia­tives to crack down on regime in Py­ongyang.

Mr. Trump said the two coun­tries had agreed to in­crease eco­nomic pres­sure un­til North Korea aban­dons its weapons pro­gram and called on all na­tions to stop arm­ing or trad­ing with it.

But Mr. Xi, in his com­ments, of­fered the stan­dard for­mu­la­tion about the Chi­nese ap­proach to North Korea: “On the Korean penin­sula nu­clear is­sue, we re­it­er­ated the firm com­mit­ment to achiev­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the penin­sula and up­hold­ing the in­ter­na­tional non- pro­lif­er­a­tion regime,” Mr. Xi said.

He also noted: “As two dis­tinc­tive coun­tries our two sides may have dif­fer­ent views or dif­fer­ences on some is­sues. This is only nat­u­ral. The key is to prop­erly han­dle and man­age them.” —

US PRES­I­DENT Don­ald J. Trump and China’s Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping shakes hands after mak­ing joint state­ments at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing on Nov. 9.

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