President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at China on Sunday, accusing the nation of manipulating its currency and blasting it for the military conflict in the South China Sea.
“Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into their country (the U.S. doesn’t tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” Trump said on Twitter.
The 10-minute phone call marked the first time a US president or president-elect spoke with Taiwanese leadership in more than 30 years. Taiwan and China have been engaged in a decades-long dispute over China’s governance of the island.
The exchange — dismissed by Trump as a “congratulatory call” — elicited a formal diplomatic protest from China and a sharp rebuke from China’s state-controlled newspaper on Saturday.
“It exposed nothing but his and his transition team’s inexperience in dealing with foreign affairs,” an editorial in the paper read.
Trump’s top advisers also moved to tamp down criticism over the call Sunday, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence referred to it as “nothing more than a courtesy call.”
But Trump’s tweets on Sunday threaten to further strain the relationship between China and the United States as he prepares to take office, as they touched on two of the most sensitive issues of dispute between the countries.
According to CBS News, Trump is incorrect in saying the US doesn’t tax Chinese imports, though China’s tariffs on US products are higher. Chinese products are subject to tariffs between 2.5% and 2.9%.
Meanwhile, critics have long accused China of manipulating its currency, most recently in August 2015, when the country’s central bank made a surprise move to devalue its currency. On the campaign trail, Trump threatened to label China as a currency manipulator, a move that would bring about economic penalties.
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