By Ray Downs – UPI
President Donald Trump said in Beijing Thursday that the United States’ trade relationship with China is “a very one-sided and unfair one” that he hopes to repair.
“The United States really has to change its policies because they’ve gotten so far behind on trade with China and frankly many other countries,” Trump said.
While Trump criticized what he describes as a trade imbalance in favor of China, he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he doesn’t blame him for the situation.
“I have great respect for you for that because you represent China. But it’s too bad past administrations allowed it to get so far out of kilter. But we’ll make it fair and it’ll be tremendous for both of us,” Trump said.
Later, Trump elaborated on the comments and said he gives China “great credit” for the current trade deal between the two countries.
“Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?” Trump said.
When asked about Trump’s remarks, US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said Trump believes China is just pursuing its own self-interests
“I think what he’s saying is that China is pursuing its own national interests and you can’t blame any country for doing that,” Branstad said, according to CNN. “We just have to do a better job of doing that for the United States of America.”
Trump has long criticized the trade relationship between the United States and China as being one-sided, but on the campaign trail, he used stronger language to describe the imbalance.
“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said during a May 2016 campaign rally in Indiana.
But like his remarks in China Thursday, Trump placed the blame on U.S. leaders instead of China.
“I mean, China’s great. No problem. I’m not angry with China,” he said at the Indiana rally. “And I’m not angry at Japan. And I’m not angry at Mexico. I’m not angry at anybody. I’m angry at our leaders, because they are grossly incompetent and they shouldn’t have ever been elected to do this job. Terrible.”