President Trump has long accused China of perpetrating one of the “greatest thefts in the history of the world" when it comes to trade with the U.S. and promised he would have his Treasury secretary label China a currency manipulator.
But while visiting China this week, Trump took a softer line and said the country was not responsible for trade imbalances with the U.S.
“I don’t blame China,” Trump said Thursday in Beijing. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country to the benefit of its citizens?”
Instead, Trump pointed the finger at his predecessors for “allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow.”
Trump’s visit follows a presidential campaign in which he criticized China's business practices and how it handles trade with the United States. He has made China the target of more than 200 of his tweets over the years.
One the flip side, however, Trump said at a 2016 campaign rally that “I love China” and that he has made lots of money doing business with the country.
Here are some of the unconventional slights Trump has either said, written or tweeted about China in the past:
“I beat the people from China. I win against China. You can win against China if you're smart. But our people don't have a clue. We give state dinners to the heads of China. I said why are you doing state dinners for them? They're ripping us left and right. Just take them to McDonald's and go back to the negotiating table.”
“China’s upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They’re ripping us off, folks, it’s time. I’m so happy they’re upset.”
“There are people who wish I wouldn’t refer to China as our enemy. But that’s exactly what they are. They have destroyed entire industries by utilizing low-wage workers, cost us tens of thousands of jobs, spied on our businesses, stolen our technology, and have manipulated and devalued their currency, which makes importing our goods more expensive – and sometimes, impossible.”
On labeling China an enemy
“Because it's an economic enemy, because they have taken advantage of us like nobody in history. They have; it's the greatest theft in the history of the world what they've done to the United States. They've taken our jobs.”
“China is the biggest environmental polluter in the World, by far. They do nothing to clean up their factories and laugh at our stupidity!”
On China’s trade policies
"We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country and that’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.”
“China is neither an ally or a friend -- they want to beat us and own our country.”
“The single biggest weapon used against us and to destroy our companies is devaluation of currencies, and the greatest ever at that is China. Very smart, they are like grand chess masters. And we are like checkers players. But bad ones.”
“No surprise that China was caught cheating in the Olympics. That's the Chinese M.O. - Lie, Cheat & Steal in all international dealings.”
"But when you see China, these are fierce people in terms of negotiation. They want to take your throat out, they want to cut you apart. These are tough people. I've dealt with them all my life."