Expressing concern over China’s growing military might, US president Donald Trump has said the Communist nation is a threat to the world and blamed his predecessors for not stopping it from stealing America’s intellectual property to bolster its defence capabilities.
China has hiked its military spending by seven per cent to USD 152 billion as Beijing aims at countering America’s push into the disputed South China Sea.
“Obviously China is a threat to the world in a sense because they are building a military faster than anybody and frankly they are using US money,” Trump, who was accompanied by visiting Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, told reporters here on Friday.
Trump said the US Presidents before him allowed China to take out USD 500 billion a year and more than that.
“They have allowed China to steal our intellectual property and property rights and I’m not doing that,” he said.
According to the president, the two countries were very close to having a trade deal.
“We work very closely, had intellectual property, all of the tough things work negotiated and then at the last moment, they said we cannot agree to this,” he alleged, referring to the abrupt collapse of the trade deal with China early this year.
“I said that’s all right we are charging you 25 per cent tariffs and then it’s going up and it will continue to go up. Frankly, we are making so many hundreds of the numbers that we are taking into our treasury…Look at the great reports that came out two days ago on retailing, on consumers, on numbers that nobody believes,” he added.
The world’s two largest economies are locked in a trade war since Trump in March last year imposed tariff hikes of up to 25 per cent on USD 250 billion of Chinese goods. In response, China, the world’s second-largest economy after the US, imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on USD 110 billion of American goods.
The two countries have resumed their trade negotiations.
Trump has said that he will enter into a trade deal with Beijing only if he is confident that it is good for the US.
“We are taking hundreds of millions potentially over a short period of time, hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of money is coming in from China that never came in before so China wants to make a deal, I think we want to make a deal,” Trump said.
“We will see what happens, but I view China in many different ways, but right now I am thinking about trade. But you know trade equals military because if we allow China to take USD 500 billion out of the hide of the United States that money goes into military and other things,” said the US president.
Responding to a question from reporters, the visiting Australian prime minister appeared to have a different view on China.
“We have a comprehensive strategic partnership with China. We work well with China. But as we’ve spoken many times, we need to ensure that as countries develop and realise their potential, they come onto a whole new level, and that means there can be special rules around that,” Morrison said.
“We have a great relationship with China. China’s growth has been great for Australia, but we need to make sure that we all compete on the same playing field. This is something that the United States and Australia have been very consistent on, that we need to move into this new world where economies are changing,” he said.
“China is a big economy, not as big as the United States, but it’s a big economy, and that means we’ve all got to get on the same page with how the rules work. That’s what we’re working to achieve,” Morrison said.
Trump said the US was making a lot of progress with China.
“They’re having a bad year. Worst year in 57 years. Their tariffs aren’t coming into us. We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars of tariffs. They are devaluing their currency, which means the tariffs are not costing us probably anything, but certainly not very much. They’re also adding a lot of money into their economy. They’re pouring money into their economy, but were taking in many billions of dollars,” he said.
“At some point in the not-too-distant future, it’ll be over USD 100 billion. We’ve never taken in 100 cents from China. It was always the other way around. With that, they lost over 3 million jobs there. Supply chain is crashing, and they have a lot of problems. And want to make a deal. So, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.