Mr Trump, who made China a central focus of his 2016 campaign, outlined a harder line on trade with Beijing at a press conference outside the White House on the day of the Labor Day, less than two months before the November 3 elections.
Mr Trump said “decoupling” – which economists have used for a decade to denote a potential permanent decline in trade between the two countries – was “an interesting word.”
“If we weren’t dealing with [China], we wouldn’t lose billions of dollars, ”Trump said on Monday. “It’s called decoupling. So you will start to think about it. You will start to think that they are taking our money and spending it on building planes and ships and building rockets and missiles.
The president also threatened to prevent companies that outsource jobs in China from receiving federal contracts and promised – as he did in the 2016 campaign – to bring back manufacturing and manufacturing jobs. critical supply chains in the United States.
“We will make America the world’s manufacturing superpower and end our dependence on China once and for all,” he said. “Whether it is decoupling or instituting massive tariffs as I have already done, we will end our dependence on China because we cannot rely on China.”
The president vowed to toughen trade with China during the 2016 campaign and struck a limited “phase one” trade deal earlier this year. But the trade deficit with China has remained stubbornly high. Data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday showed that the United States’ trade deficit with the Asian country increased by $ 1.6 billion to reach $ 28.3 billion in July.
Mr Trump said the United States would hold China responsible for the devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 181,000 people in the United States. In recent months, his administration has tackled a host of issues in Beijing, ranging from pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and alleged abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang to accounting standards for Chinese companies listed in the United States. .
The president has portrayed his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, as a Beijing “pawn”, claiming that the former vice president “will hand over our jobs to China, our jobs and our economic well-being.”
Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, his vice president, used the Labor Day break to deviate from their campaign’s goal of enforcing “law and order” and cracking down on rights protesters civics to deliver an economic message: the virus will soon be contained, and the economy has started to recover.
“The United States has experienced the smallest contraction of any major Western country,” Mr. Trump said. “Our rise is spectacular and we are rebounding much faster after the pandemic.”
In the United States, GDP fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter. It’s better than Germany or the UK, but worse than South Korea or Japan, where the economy slowed 7.8% over the same period. Mr Trump also pointed to an encouraging jobs report on Friday, which showed an unemployment rate of 8.4%.
The United States has recovered about half of the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April, amid widespread lockdowns.
“We’ve been through a period of testing,” Pence said, speaking to about 250 workers and guests at the Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse, Wisconsin Monday. “We are coming to a moment of choice soon.”
Under Mr. Trump, “the era of economic surrender is over,” he added.
Mr Biden and his Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris also visited the battlefield states on Monday. Mr. Biden traveled to Pennsylvania, where he met with union leaders. Ms Harris was in Wisconsin to visit family members of Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot dead by a police officer in an incident that fueled anti-racism protests across the United States.