During an oval office press conference today, President Trump took several questions about China and the U.S. trade confrontation. After receiving the third question, on the same subject, President Trump paused and then went deep into the heart of the issue.
The question was: ” Mr. President, you keep insisting that your trade war with China — the trade war with China is not affecting the U.S. economy. But a lot of economists disagree with that. And they worry that if China goes into a recession, they’ll pull us down with it.”
Here is President Trump’s response:
[Transcript] … PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well — well, okay. Let me — let me tell you something. Number one, we’re doing very well as an economy. But somebody had to take China on. You know, I read and I see so much and I read so much, and I’ll see these economists saying, “Oh, give up. Give up on China. Give up.”
China has been ripping this country off for 25 years — for longer than that. And it’s about time, whether it’s good for our country or bad for our country short term. Long term, it’s imperative that somebody does this because our country cannot continue to pay China $500 billion a year because stupid people are running it.
Whether it’s good or bad, short term, is irrelevant.
We have to solve the problem with China because they’re taking out $500 billion a year-plus. And that doesn’t include intellectual property theft and other things. And also, national security.
So, I am doing this whether it’s good or bad for your — your statement about, “Oh, will we fall into a recession for two months?” Okay? The fact is, somebody had to take China on.
My life would be a lot easier if I didn’t take China on. But I like doing it because I have to do it. And we’re getting great results.
China has had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years. And a lot of people are saying the worst year they’ve had in 54 years. Okay? And frankly, I don’t want that to happen, but it does put us in a good negotiating position, doesn’t it? And China wants to make a deal, and that’s good. But they have to make a deal that’s fair to us. It can’t be a deal that’s not fair to us.
And you should be happy that I’m fighting this and I’m fighting this battle, because somebody had to do it. We couldn’t let this go — I don’t even think it’s sustainable to let go on what was happening.
They were stealing all of our intellectual property ideas. The theft was incredible. They call it “intellectual property theft.” And they value it at $300 billion a year. Who knows how they value it? I know how to value dollars; I don’t know how to value intellectual property theft. But they have experts that say it’s at least $300 billion a year, where they steal it.
Somebody had to do something with China.
Obama should have done it.
Bush should have done it.
Clinton should have done it.
They all should have done it. Nobody did it; I’m doing it.
So what do you say? “Oh, my trade deals are causing them.” My trade deals aren’t causing a problem. This is something that had to be done. The only difference is I’m doing it.
I could be sitting here right now with a stock market that would be up 10,000 points higher if I didn’t want to do it. But I think we have no choice but to do it. And a lot of people that really know, people that love our country, they’re saying, “Thank you very much for taking it on.” And we’re winning because they’re having the worst year they’ve had in decades. And it’s only going to get worse.
China has lost 2 million jobs in the last month and a half because they’re moving — the people, the companies are moving to non-tariffed countries. They’ve lost over 2 million jobs in a very short period of time. They’re going to lose a lot more jobs. And if I didn’t help certain companies — there are American companies like Apple — for a very short period of time, I may help them, only until they do what they have to do, which is probably move from China. Because this would be a very short term. If I didn’t help them, they would — I mean, they would be — they would have a big problem.
Here’s the thing: Somebody had to take on what China was doing to the United States economically. We’re winning big. I took it on. And it should have been done by previous Presidents, but I took it on. And I’m happy to do it because it had to be done. And the smart people say, “Thank you very much.” And the dumb people have no idea. And then you have the political people, and they go with the wind.
But they all know — even Senator Schumer said, “Wow, Trump is doing a great job with China.” I couldn’t believe that. But Schumer thinks I’m doing the right thing. And he’s doing the right thing by saying it because he knows that China was a big economic threat. And they were taking all of that money that they were making from us, and they were building planes and ships and lots of other things. And we can’t let that happen.