WASHINGTON — President Trump said Friday that China was a “threat to the world” and suggested Beijing was eager to make a trade deal because his tariffs were hurting the Chinese economy, coarsening his tone as the two countries prepared to resume negotiations.
The Trump administration has closely tied economic policy and national security and, in remarks at the White House, Trump said that China was using money pilfered from the United States through unfair trade practices to build up its military. The comments come as midlevel officials from both countries have been holding talks in Washington this week ahead of a planned meeting between senior trade negotiators next month.
“Obviously, China is a threat to the world in a sense, because they’re building a military faster than anybody,” Trump said. “I view China in many different ways. But right now, I’m thinking about trade. But, you know, trade equals military.”
Trump also tried to put to rest speculation that he might settle for an interim deal to give markets a lift ahead of the presidential election next year.
“I’m looking for a complete deal, I’m not looking for a partial deal,” Trump said during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia. “We’re looking for the big deal.”
Trump has imposed tariffs on $360 billion of Chinese goods and plans to tax nearly all imports from China by the end of the year. The president said that the tariffs have not had an impact on the US economy, despite vocal complaints from American businesses, who say that their costs are going up and their supply chains are being disrupted.
Many of those businesses have applied to the US trade representative for relief from the tariffs and, on Friday, the administration excluded hundreds of products from being taxed. Those products include imported dog leashes, plastic straws, and Christmas light sets.