Chinese official: Trump an 'irrational type' on trade

Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei told the Wall Street Journal that Donald Trump is "an irrational type" and said the U.S. "wouldn't be entitled to world leadership" if Trump went through with his plan to slap severe tariffs on some Chinese exports.

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 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.”

Our trade deficit with China is a serious issue that demands serious discussion.  Trump's infantile understanding of international trade, where he threatens to cut off trade with China unless the Chinese bend to his will, would lead to a worldwide depression and cost millions of jobs.  You can't yank half a trillion dollars out of the economy of both countries without severe consequences. That Trump doesn't realize this is just another frightening prospect if he is elected president.

If Trump ignores WTO rules, the U.S. could find itself suspended or even kicked out of the organization.  American exports would plummet, creating an even larger trade deficit.  And Trump has yet to explain what he would do if our trading partners refuse to "renegotiate" deals that have been in place for decades.

Trump's feel-good rhetoric is meant to fool low-information voters.  The reality is as Mr. Lou said: "U.S.-China ties should be more or less as they are now," even if Trump is elected.

Chinese finance minister Lou Jiwei told the Wall Street Journal that Donald Trump is "an irrational type" and said the U.S. "wouldn't be entitled to world leadership" if Trump went through with his plan to slap severe tariffs on some Chinese exports.

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 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.”

Our trade deficit with China is a serious issue that demands serious discussion.  Trump's infantile understanding of international trade, where he threatens to cut off trade with China unless the Chinese bend to his will, would lead to a worldwide depression and cost millions of jobs.  You can't yank half a trillion dollars out of the economy of both countries without severe consequences. That Trump doesn't realize this is just another frightening prospect if he is elected president.

If Trump ignores WTO rules, the U.S. could find itself suspended or even kicked out of the organization.  American exports would plummet, creating an even larger trade deficit.  And Trump has yet to explain what he would do if our trading partners refuse to "renegotiate" deals that have been in place for decades.

Trump's feel-good rhetoric is meant to fool low-information voters.  The reality is as Mr. Lou said: "U.S.-China ties should be more or less as they are now," even if Trump is elected.