President Trump, who vowed to stop allowing China to “rape our country” on the campaign trail, offered a starkly different tone from his campaign rhetoric when he told reporters in Beijing that he doesn’t blame China for taking advantage of the US.
Trump said he does not place blame on China for what he described as “one-sided and unfair” trade practices.
Instead, he gave “China great credit” and blamed past administrations instead of Beijing for “unfair” practices.
“I don’t blame China,” he said. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit if their citizens? I give China great credit.”
“But, in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow,” Trump said
“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. It is just not sustainable. I look forward to working toward that goal and to pursuing fair and lasting engagement.”
Foreign correspondents let out an “audible gasp” after Trump’s remarks, according to Washington Post correspondent David Nakamura:
Audible gasp from reporters as Trump tells biz leaders in Beijing on trade imbalance: "I don't blame China. Who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit if their citizens? I give China great credit."
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) November 9, 2017
Over five years of tweeting, Quartz notes Trump has accused China of being a job stealer, liar, copycat, currency manipulator, a hacker, and a spy that laughs at the US all the time.
“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said during a May rally last year.