Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal: Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump an “irrational type” and said the U.S. “wouldn’t be entitled to world leadership” if it followed Mr. Trump’s proposed trade policies toward China.
Mr. Trump has advocated imposing up to 45% tariffs on China as a way to force it to change its trade policies. Mr. Lou, known in China for his bluff outspokenness, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that such a tariff would violate World Trade Organization rules. Under those conditions, he said, the U.S. wouldn’t be entitled to its position as the world’s major power.
“Almost any across-the-board tariff increase would violate U.S. obligations under the WTO,” said Jeffrey Schott, a trade economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank backing free trade.
In a statement from his campaign, Mr. Trump charged that China was “in total violation of WTO regulations” and that the U.S. “has incompetently allowed them to get away with this” and has failed to impose “equal or greater taxes and tariffs” on China. If he is elected president, Mr. Trump said, China “will learn to deal fairly and justly or we will not deal at all” with Beijing.
In a Trump presidency, he added, “all trade and other agreements will be totally and completely renegotiated” so the U.S. will become a “beneficiary of trade, and we will no longer be thought of as fools.”
Asked about the tough talk on China in the presidential campaign, from both Democrats and Republicans, Mr. Lou said Americans needed to recognize the U.S. and China “are mutually dependent on each other” and both have a lot to lose in any economic confrontation. “Our economic cycles are intertwined,” he said. “We have more in common than sets us apart.”
Mr. Lou also said he understood that rhetoric in a presidential campaign gets heated and often doesn’t reflect the policies an incoming administration would adopt. With a new administration, he said, “U.S.-China ties should be more or less as they are now.”
Mr. Lou is the most senior Chinese official to comment on Mr. Trump. In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was asked about the U.S. election—though not Mr. Trump specifically—and said it was “lively and caught the eyes of many.” In daily briefings, the foreign ministry declines to answer questions about the New York businessman or other U.S. presidential candidates. Keep reading