President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Ohio’s too-close-to-call special election Mar-a-Lago insiders provided input on VA policy, personnel decisions: report Trump claims victory as Balderson holds on to slim lead in Ohio MORE reportedly spent a large part of Tuesday’s dinner with business executives railing against China as a brewing trade war grew even larger.
While the White House said the event would be “an opportunity for the president to hear how the economy is doing,” the president spent time bashing Chinese policies, from infrastructure plans to study abroad programs in the U.S., an unnamed attendee told Politico.
Politico reports Trump spent time criticizing China’s “One Belt One Road Initiative,” a massive endeavor designed to establish multiple infrastructure plans connecting China to other countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. The attendee said Trump considered the project “insulting.”
The attendee added that Trump – apparently referring to China specifically – claimed “almost every student that comes over to this country is a spy.”
The U.S. and China are in the midst of a rapidly escalating trade war, with each side implementing large tit-for-tat tariffs. China announced last night it will place tariffs on an additional $16 billion worth of U.S. goods starting Aug. 23, matching a round of American tariffs set to take place that same date.
Chinese tariffs have been targeted toward U.S. products such as soy beans and cars, popular exports from states in the agricultural Midwest that helped propel Trump to victory and have competitive midterm races this year.
Republicans fear a crippling trade war could undercut their argument of a roaring economy and hinder their efforts to win or maintain seats in those states.
The strained economic ties are a new low in Trump’s relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He once called Xi a “friend of mine” and tweeted in April, “President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!”
Trump reportedly did discuss other issues with the crowd, including immigration and ways to fix a student loan crisis.