US President Donald Trump said that he intends to curb the US economic relationship with China, contrasting himself with former US vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, by threatening to punish any US companies that create jobs overseas and to forbid those that do business in China from winning federal contracts.
“We’ll manufacture our critical manufacturing supplies in the United States, we’ll create ‘made in America’ tax credits and bring our jobs back to the United States, and we’ll impose tariffs on companies that desert America to create jobs in China and other countries,” Trump said at a White House Labor Day news conference, where he complained at length about Biden.
“If they can’t do it here, then let them pay a big tax to build it someplace else and send it into our country,” he said of US corporations. “We’ll prohibit federal contracts from companies that outsource to China and we’ll hold China accountable for allowing the virus to spread around the world.”
Trump has recently entertained the idea of “decoupling” the US economy from China, a dream of the US’ China hawks.
“So when you mention the word decouple, it’s an interesting word,” Trump said. “We lose billions of dollars and if we didn’t do business with them we wouldn’t lose billions of dollars. It’s called decoupling, so you’ll start thinking about it.”
“Whether it’s decoupling or putting massive tariffs on China which I’ve been doing already,” he said. “We’re going to end our reliance on China because we can’t rely on China and I don’t want them building a military like they’re building right now, and they’re using our money to build it.”
Trump did not say when he would implement the policies, but framed the moves as part of a second-term agenda.
“If Biden wins, China wins because China will own this country,” Trump said. “It’s the most important election in our history, right now, most important election in our history. Under my administration we will make America into the manufacturing superpower of the world and we’ll end our reliance on China once and for all.”
Biden has turned the argument against the president, accusing Trump of being soft on China to secure a so-called “phase one” trade deal in January and only toughening his posture after his administration lost control of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has said the trade deal is “unenforceable,” and “full of vague, weak, and recycled commitments from Beijing.”
Analysts have said that the two countries’ economies are so intertwined as to make decoupling impractical.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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