After nearly two years of economic warfare with Beijing that rattled stock market investors and cost farmers and companies billions in lost sales, President Donald Trump appears — for now, at least — uneager to replay those events ahead of the November election.
Instead, as Trump prepares for his phase one trade deal with China to take effect Friday, he has shifted from beating up on China to boasting about how he took them on and won.
“I think China is going to really be terrific,” Trump said at a White House event in late January, two weeks after signing a phase one trade deal with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. “Honestly, I think, as tough as this negotiation was, I think our relationship with China now might be the best it’s been in a long, long time.”
Earlier this week, Trump even spoke of the trade war in the past tense, and bragged about a sharp drop in the U.S. trade deficit with China to $346 billion in 2019, from a record $420 billion a year earlier.
“We had our battle,” Trump said during a session with U.S. governors. “And we took in hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and other things. And you saw the — it was just announced the trade deficit was the lowest it’s been in years with China.”
And, he argued, the best way to keep those gains is to reelect him.
“Right now — we’re so far ahead of [China]. They’re not catching us for a long time,” Trump said. “If the wrong person stands here or sits in the White House — that beautiful chair in the White House, in the Oval Office — sure, they’re going to — you know, they’re going to catch” the U.S.
Beginning Friday, China takes on increased commitments to crack down on the counterfeiting and piracy of American goods and to stop practices that force American companies to transfer valuable technology to participate in China’s market.
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