Trump Credits Tariffs For Slowing Chinese Economy, Encourages Them To Make ‘Real Deal’ On Trade


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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President Donald Trump credited his tariff policy as the reason for China’s slumping economy and signaled it was time for them to quit “playing around” and reach a final deal on trade.

“China posts slowest economic numbers since 1990 due to U.S. trade tensions and new policies. Makes so much sense for China to finally do a Real Deal, and stop playing around!” the president tweeted on Monday.

The statement follows news that China’s economic growth has reached record-level lows.

The Communist country experienced a 6.6 percent growth rate in 2018, its slowest annual pace in nearly 30 years. The sluggish growth, which was even steeper during the final months of the year, was worse than what Beijing had been expecting. Unemployment is becoming a more striking issue in China, with the official jobless rate rising to 4.9 percent during the month of December.

The country’s economic woes come as Communist Party leaders race to finalize a permanent trade deal with the United States. Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top economic official, is set to visit Washington, D.C., on January 30 and 31 with his country’s trade delegation for negotiations. Liu He’s visit will follow U.S.-China trade discussions that already took place in Beijing earlier this month.

Negotiators must reach a deal by the Trump-imposed deadline of March 1, or else face additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – RC1B7ED2D0F0

The U.S.-China trade war began in July, when Trump first slapped a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump, who argues he is fighting against “unfair” Chinese trade practices, doubled down in September, hitting them with a 10 percent tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

A detente began when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in December, agreeing to hold off on any further tariff barbs while they attempt to reach a compromise. The White House agreed to wait 90 days before enacting any additional tariffs. The deadline is intended to force Chinese negotiators to fully commit to reaching a deal. (RELATED: China’s Manufacturing Takes A Dive As Trump’s Main Negotiator Pushes The POTUS To Stay The Course On Beijing)

In the meantime, the U.S. tariffs already enacted have hit Chinese manufacturing companies hard. Numerous private makers of textiles, electronics and auto parts in the technology district of Shenzhen have resorted to placing employees on furlough.

“It was a terrible year, and it doesn’t look like things are getting any better this year,” said Lu Bing, a manager at a clothing shop in Yancheng, adding that his company’s sales fell as much as 30 percent in 2018.

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