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US Senate minority leader backs Trump’s trade war on China

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters following the weekly Democratic policy luncheon at the US Capitol April 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The leader of the Democratic Party in the US Senate Charles Schumer has endorsed President Donald Trump’s trade policies against China, saying in a rare show of support that the Republican head of state is moving “on the right path.”

Schumer, who represents the state of New York in the upper chamber of Congress, has on many occasions locked horns with Trump. But the senior senator told a radio show on Sunday that he is on the president’s side when it comes to "squeezing China."

“China is not helpful to the United States. They are happy to see us in trouble," Schumer said.

"And the way to get at them — what is the mother lode for China — is their trade with us," he added. "They take advantage of American workers, American wealth, American companies regularly. I called them rapacious."

He argued that Trump’s pressure on China may force the Chinese towards cooperating with Americans in North Korea, where the Trump administration is trying to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to give up the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Trump triggered a trade standoff with China earlier this month by slapping a $60 billion tariff package on Beijing.

China initially cautioned against such an economic war even as it signaled its preparedness to fight one. But as the White House disregarded calls to avoid imposing aggressive trade measures against Beijing, the Chinese government retaliated by imposing restrictions of its own on a range of American goods.

Trump then threatened to impose an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.

The businessman-turned-president’s tough stand on trade is largely seen as a potential cudgel to win what he considers better terms in potential negotiations to change the nature of trade relations with China and other countries.

Trump has also accused China of devaluing its currency, a claim that his own Treasury Department disputed last week.

The International Monetary Fund has urged policymakers on both sides to avoid adopting protectionist measures.

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