President Donald Trump blamed previous U.S. leaders as he ripped into China on Tuesday, calling the nation “cheaters” amid the ongoing trade war.
“We are actively competing with nations who openly cut interest rates so that now many are actually getting paid when they pay off their loan, known as negative interest. Who ever heard of such a thing?”
“Since China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, no one has manipulated better or taken advantage of the United States more,” Trump said during a speech at the Economic Club of New York. “I will not say the word ‘cheated,’ but nobody’s cheated better than China, I will say that.”
The slightly contradictory comments came as the U.S. and China have been slowly making progress toward a new trade deal, but progress has been slow. While Trump has not been shy about tearing into China in the past, he placed a lot of blame on previous U.S. administrations for not being harder on Beijing.
“I said, ‘This is not going over well,'” the president said while recalling a previous unspecified speech. “It was in Beijing, this massive hall. But I said I don’t blame China.”
It is a sentiment that the U.S. president has carried throughout his first term in office, as a tweet from November 2017 echoed the same argument.
“I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S.,” Trump’s tweet said.
I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the U.S. is losing $100’s of billions. How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would’ve done same!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2017
A Chinese official said last week that negotiators are ready to rollback tariffs if talks progress, but Trump was quick to deny agreeing to a rollback of any kind Friday.
Trump’s tone changed slightly during Tuesday’s speech when he said the two sides are “close,” and that a “phase-one” deal “could happen soon.”
The president jumped on the chance to bash trade policies with other countries as well, and he thinks the EU situation may be even worse than what’s going on with China.
“Many countries charge us extraordinarily high tariffs or create impossible trade barriers,” Trump said. “And I’ll be honest, the European Union, very very difficult. The barriers they have up are terrible, in many ways worse than China.”
In addition to blasting China, Trump hit at the Federal Reserve, a frequent target, for not following other countries into negative interest rates, which would only hurt savers in the U.S.
“We are actively competing with nations who openly cut interest rates so that now many are actually getting paid when they pay off their loan, known as negative interest,” he said. “Who ever heard of such a thing?”
“Give me some of that. Give me some of that money. I want some of that money.”