Aug 21, 2019

Trump says he is "the chosen one" to take on China in trade war

Speaking to reporters outside the White House Wednesday, President Trump looked to the sky and proclaimed "I am the chosen one" while arguing that "somebody" had to take on China over their unfair trade practices.

"Somebody said it is Trump's trade war. This isn't my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion. $500 billion. Ripped it out of the United States. And not only that, if you take a look, intellectual property theft. Add that to it. And add a lot of other things to it. So somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it, so I'm taking on China. I'm taking on China on trade. And you know what? We're winning."

The big picture: Experts and politicians on both sides of the aisle largely agree that China has engaged in unfair trade practices for years. Where they diverge from Trump's worldview is on the question of whether tariffs are the best way to address the problem.

  • The Congressional Budget Office warned in a new report Wednesday that Trump's trade war has affected U.S. business investment and that it could take significant toll on GDP in 2020.
  • American farmers, meanwhile, have been borne the brunt of China's retaliatory tariffs on agricultural goods, forcing the Trump administration to distribute billions in farm aid.
  • Though Trump recently decided to delay some new tariffs on consumer goods until Dec. 15 to accommodate the holiday shopping season, it's looking increasingly unlikely that a U.S.-China trade deal will ever be reached under this president.

Of note: The remark was Trump's second messianic comparison of the day, having tweeted a quote from conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root earlier Wednesday that called Trump the "King of Israel" and claimed that Israelis "love him like he is the second coming of God."

Go deeper: Allies worry Trump is "running out of tools" to boost the economy

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China trade war: White House clarifies Trump comments about "second thoughts"

President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit in France. Photo: Dylan Martinez/Pool/Getty Images

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham clarified remarks that President Trump made at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, in which he appeared to express regret about the United States' escalating trade war with China.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China.' His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."
Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 25, 2019

Trade war: Trump says China wants to restart negotiations

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Monday that China has contacted his administration to request for trade talks to resume.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Aug 26, 2019

Trump trade war: 15% tariffs on Chinese imports take effect

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Trump administration's trade war with China entered a new phase on Sunday morning as new 15% tariffs on about $110 billion of Chinese imports took effect, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Per the New York Times, the move changes the rules of trade in ways that have no recent historic precedent. "This is the first time U.S. consumers will see the costs quite directly, right as we head into the busiest shopping time of the year," Western Washington University economics professor Edward Alden told the Washington Post. China has introduced retaliatory taxes, the first phase of which came into effect Sunday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 1, 2019