Trump used the fourth Republican debate to call out politicians in New Delhi and Beijing, accusing them of abusing the United States through their economic policies.
According to Trump, China is the “number-one abuser,” the leader of a group of nations that take advantage of the United States. The leading Republican presidential candidate spoke out on the increasingly tense U.S. relationship with China, which has taken a turn for the worse of late due to ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, according to The Times of India.
Trump bemoans foreign countries taking advantage of U.S.
“If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the US – China in particular, because they’re so good. It’s the number-one abuser of this country,” said Trump. “China is a problem, both economically in what they’re doing in the South China Sea, I mean, they are becoming a very, very major force,” he continued.
The U.S. has stepped in to maintain freedom of navigation in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, an area which Beijing largely claims as its own. A U.S. warship recently passed within 12 nautical miles of a newly constructed Chinese island, in a clear demonstration that Washington does not recognize Beijing’s claims.
China protested the U.S. maneuver, claiming that it was designed to provoke them. The maritime dispute is just one area of tension with China, and Trump accused Beijing of “currency manipulation” that sees the U.S. lose out on billions of dollars.
United States makes huge losses due to “currency manipulation”
Trump said that although there is no mention of currency manipulation in the 6,000-page Trans-Pacific Partnership document, it is one major way that other nations are profiting at the expense of the United States.
“We lose a fortune on trade. The US loses with everybody. We’re losing now over USD 500 billion in terms of imbalance with China, USD 75 billion a year imbalance with Japan,” Trump said.
Other candidates joined in with Trump’s criticism of China, but no one else mentioned India. The Governor of Ohio, John Kasich, made clear his position on the South China Sea. “I give the (US) President some credit for being able to move a naval force in there to let the Chinese know that we’re not going to put up with it any more,” he said.
Putin and Russia feature heavily during debate
Another hot topic during the debate was Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia have increased of late due to the conflict in Ukraine and the Russian bombing campaign in Syria. Both Russia and the U.S. are involved in air strikes against Islamic State militants, but some observers have called into question Russian motivations.
“What we have to recognize is that Putin is trying to really spread his influence throughout the Middle East. This is going to be his base. And we have to oppose him there in an effective way,” said candidate Ben Carson.
“We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there,” he continued.
Jeb Bush claims U.S. influence in Middle East is on the wane
Fellow candidate Jeb Bush accused Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of not believing that the U.S. should play a leadership role in world affairs. “And we are now paying a price, and it will have a huge impact on the economy of this country if we don’t deal with this,” he said, speaking out in favor of a no-fly zone in Syria.
“We should have a support for the remnants of the Syrian Free Army, and create safe zones. If you want to deal with the four million refugees that are leaving Syria because of the devastation there, then we ought to create safe zones for them to stay in the region rather than go to Europe. And, that requires American leadership,” Bush said.
He later went on to bemoan the decline of U.S. influence in the region. “It is tragic that you see Iraq, and other countries now talking to Russia. It wasn’t that long ago that Russia had no influence in the region at all. And, so, the U.S. needs to lead across the board,” Bush added.
While the Obama administration has come in for criticism for its handling of the U.S. relationship with China, it has recently taken a tougher stance on issues such as the South China Sea. In what may well be a clever piece of political maneuvering, Obama has moved to head off further Republican criticism and potentially strengthen the campaign of the Democrat candidate.