Trump: Why Slam China On Trade If They Help With North Korea?

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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President Donald Trump said Sunday he has no reason to punish China for its currency management practices as long as they are willing to help rein in North Korea.

Since the president took office, North Korea has conducted five missile tests and launched eight ballistic missiles. The reclusive regime has also tested high-thrust rocket engines for a potential intercontinental ballistic missile, and it looks like the North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.

Trump is determined to resolve this foreign policy crisis.

Trump said the Chinese “are not currency manipulators,” in a Wednesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, stepping back from past accusations that the Chinese are the “grand champions at manipulation of currency.”

China is the largest source of the U.S. trade deficit, and Trump has previously criticized China for unfairly devaluing its currency to give it an unfair competitive advantage in international markets. At the same time, the president also sees China as essential for resolving the North Korea problem that has puzzled world leaders for decades.

“It’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion,” Trump told Reuters in February, adding. “I think China has tremendous control over North Korea, whether they say so or not. They could solve the problem very easily if they want to.”

During their discussions in Mar-a-Lago recently, Trump encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping to rein in the actions of its hostile neighbor in exchange for a favorable trade policy.

The president also left the possibility of unilateral U.S. action, a move largely considered undesirable by the Chinese, sitting on the table. The Chinese want to be involved in the process.

While China does engage in unfair trade practices, such as protectionism and the financing of companies with state funds, currency manipulation appears to be less of a problem now. In fact, there is evidence to suggest China may be trying to prop up the Chinese currency to prevent capital outflows detrimental to the slowing Chinese economy.

Trump may still decide to go after China on trade if the latter fails to uphold its end of the bargain on North Korea. As he said in his tweet, “We will see what happens.”

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