Donald Trump will look the other way on China, as long as they deal with North Korea

The president is taking a softer approach on trade deals with China — because he's more concerned with North Korea

By Charlie May

Published May 1, 2017 12:50PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Ron Sach-Pool)
(Getty/Ron Sach-Pool)

In the months since President Trump has taken office, his formerly tough talk approach towards China has shifted. Now the president, primarily concerned with the tense situation in North Korea, has taken a much different route with China than what was previously anticipated.

During an interview with John Dickerson on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Trump alluded to possibly sacrificing a better trade deal with China as long as they managed to thwart the escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, and talk them out of continuing to pursue nuclear capabilities. When asked if he was breaking any of his own negotiating rules by softening his rhetoric on China, Trump replied, "No. I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade. Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade."

"Now, if China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem," the president continued, "that's worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States, excuse me, right?"

Trump has also to refused to refer to China as a currency manipulator, a label he promised to brand the nation with on his first day in office, because he thinks it would deter them from helping the U.S. with North Korea. He also said during the interview that he has resisted the label because China ended the manipulation of its currency the moment he took office.

"Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped. They're not — it's not going down anymore, their currency," Trump said. Adding that his tough talk on the campaign trail attributed as well, "And I was talking about it all during the campaign. And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop."

Despite Trump's accusations about China, experts say that the nation is not manipulating its currency in a way that would give them an unfair trade advantage over the U.S. Trump, who once said "nobody knows more about trade" than himself, has consistently proven that he doesn't actually know as much as he claims to.

Charlie May

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