President Donald Trump stood next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and said the Chinese had taken advantage of America to build a trade imbalance that is not sustainable.
“I don’t blame China,” Trump said. “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.”
Instead, Trump blamed past American presidents.
“We have to fix this because it just doesn’t work,” he went on. “It is just not sustainable.”
The comments, which came amid a ceremony involving U.S. and Chinese business leaders celebrating $250 billion in trade deals, were far more blunt than typical for such diplomatic pageants.
Xi spoke in far different terms, celebrating a Chinese economy that is entering a new phase, from “high-speed growth” to “high-quality growth.”
He acknowledged “some frictions” between the two nations, but added that “we hope we can solve all these issues in a friendly and consultative way.”
Xi did not discuss North Korea, but Trump also challenged the Chinese leader on that front, referring to his long-standing demand that China exert more pressure on the North Korean government to end its nuclear program.
“China can fix this problem easily and quickly, and I am calling on China and your great president to hopefully work on it very hard,” Trump said. “If he works on it very hard there’s no doubt it will happen.”
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