President Donald Trump, during a speech given to Chinese business leaders on Thursday evening (local time), placed the blame for America's “one-sided” trade deals with China on his predecessors.
Speaking from the Great Hall of the People in Bejing, Trump claimed that both he and his administration were committed to improving trade and business relations with China, doubling down on his oft-claimed sentiment that the deals between China and the U.S. have been “very unfair [...] over the last many years.”
“I don't blame China,” Trump said, receiving a round of applause. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.”
The president continued, saying, that he does “blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow” while claiming to be looking forward to “pursuing fair and lasting engagement.”
From there, Trump changed the course of the speech to underline recent upswings in the American economy: The stock market reaching an all-time high, unemployment falling to a 17-year low, and “so many other great things are happening to the United States, economically and otherwise. Frankly, too many to mention.”
Trump's remarks on the state of U.S. trade with China stand in stark contrast to viewpoints he previously held. During his campaign, then-candidate Trump claimed that the U.S. should not “continue to allow China to rape our country,” according to CNN.
Rounding out the speech, the Trump thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping “for his recent efforts to restrict trade with North Korea and to cut off all banking ties.”
On the matter of North Korea, the president continued: “We must act fast, and hopefully China will act faster and more effectively on this problem than anyone. I'm also calling on Russia to help rein in this potentially very tragic situation.”