Even before Donald Trump launched his electoral career, he seemed preoccupied at times with China and its alleged currency manipulation. After becoming a presidential candidate, Trump not only routinely complained about the issue, as regular readers may recall, he also vowed to label China a currency manipulator literally on his first day in office.
The president obviously didn’t keep that promise, but he didn’t stop complaining. As recently as April, Trump called China the “world champion” of currency manipulation.
And then, all of a sudden, the Republican dramatically changed course and declared that China isn’t actually manipulating its currency at all. Last week, Trump again rejected the position he used to take seriously.
The Trump administration on Tuesday once again declined to label China a currency manipulator, even though Donald Trump repeatedly pledged during last year’s presidential campaign that he would do so as soon as he took office.
Instead, the administration, in a report it must issue every six months, kept China and four other nations – Germany, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland – on a watch list for special attention because of their large trade surpluses with the United States.
The decision not to brand China a currency manipulator had represented one of the sharpest reversals from a Trump campaign stance.
Naturally, this has not gone unnoticed in Beijing. Remember this report from the spring?
Te-Ping Chen, a Beijing-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal, notes that Chinese media are gleefully mocking Trump for doing such an abrupt 180 on an issue that was one of the staples of his 2016 presidential campaign – in fact, Trump had originally vowed to officially label China a currency manipulator on the first day of his presidency.
“Eating his words!” reads one headline, as translated by Chen.
“Trump slaps self in face, again,” reads another.
As we discussed at the time, China’s media is controlled by the state, so this ridicule was an extension of the government’s own messaging.
Trump said on Twitter yesterday that “the entire World WAS laughing” at the United States before he took office. That wasn’t true before, but there’s every reason to believe it’s true now.