Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin clarified some confusion coming out of President Trump’s recent remarks about his approach to China, stating that the president is “determined as ever on this issue.”
Mnuchin, who is in France along with Trump for the G-7 summit, told “Fox News Sunday” that “free, fair and reciprocal trade with China is a major goal of the president, and that he will do whatever he needs to in order to achieve this. That includes planned sanctions, and a willingness to deal with any Chinese retaliation accordingly.
“To the extent the Chinese respond again, the president will consider all his options,” Mnuchin said.
This comes days after the U.S. and China hit each other with tariffs, including China’s Friday announcement of a tariff on $75 billion in American goods. President Trump hit back with additional tariffs.
Sunday morning, Trump seemed to be taking another look at his approach. When asked if he had second thoughts, he said, “Yeah, sure,” noting that he has “second thoughts about everything.”
The White House then issued a statement indicating that this does not mean that the president regrets imposing new tariffs, rather that Trump’s only regret is “not raising the tariffs higher.”
When asked about the mixed messages, Mnuchin clarified by saying Trump “meant to say that he’s determined as ever on this issue,” remains committed to achieving a fair trade deal with China.
Mnuchin also answered questions about some of President Trump’s recent comments about China, including a tweet that painted both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell as enemies.
Regarding Xi, Mnuchin stated that Trump and the Chinese leader are friends, but “as it relates to financial issues in trade, we have become enemies.” As for Trump’s implication that Powell is an enemy, Mnuchin said that should not be taken seriously.
“I don’t think it was a literal comment that he’s an enemy,” he said. Similarly, Mnuchin said that when Trump called himself the “Chosen One,” that too was “tongue in cheek.”