President Trump on Wednesday said that a trade war with China was lost “many years ago” by “foolish, or incompetent” U.S. officials, and that the current trade situation with China cannot be allowed to continue.
Trump’s remarks came shortly after the Communist country announced $50 billion in tariffs on imports of U.S. products, including soybeans, whiskey and cars.
Those, in turn, were in response to proposals by the Trump administration to slap 25-percent tariffs on approximately 1,300 products from China in response to Beijing's alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property. The tariffs would include industrial chemicals, motorcycles and medical devices.
But Trump tweeted that there was no trade war, which he said had already been lost “many years ago.”
“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” he tweeted. “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”
He later tweeted: "When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!"
The Tuesday proposals come after the U.S. placed tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel last month. That move triggered a response from China, who placed tariffs on American pork, fruit, aluminum and other goods.
Trump has repeatedly slammed what he has branded as unfair trade practices from Beijing. Tuesday’s proposed sanctions were to target alleged Chinese practices such as pressuring American companies to share technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market and even hacking into U.S. companies' computers to steal trade secrets.
On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that China's door to dialogue with Washington remains open "but the U.S. has missed the opportunity time and time again."
Still, the U.S. policy was welcome by some Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said: “Nothing will ever change when it comes to China’s business practices until somebody starts pushing back.
"It is not too much to ask for China to stop stealing intellectual property and open up their markets that are closed due to heavy-handed Chinese government barriers to foreign business enterprises," Graham said.
Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and The Associated Press contributed to this report.