Kudlow Says Trump ‘Doing Exactly the Right Thing’ with Chinese Tariffs

National Economic Council director said 'no president's had the backbone to take it up publicly before' and stand up for U.S. workers against unfair trade practices

President Donald Trump is “doing exactly the right thing” with tariffs against China after previous presidents “refused to take them on” for unfair trade practices and intellectual property thefts, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Trump said last Tuesday that he would be implementing 25 percent tariffs on about 1,300 products from China, collectively valued at $50 billion, beginning after May 11. After China retaliated by announcing its own tariffs on U.S. products totaling $3 billion, Trump asked his trade advisers to select an additional $100 billion in tariffs against China.

“No president’s had the backbone to take it up publicly before, so I think [Trump’s] exactly right,” Kudlow said. “And I say to everybody on this — the problem here is China. It is not President Trump. China’s been getting away with this for decades. Past American presidents refused to take them on. I think President Trump’s doing exactly the right thing.”

“We have had to go in and fire a shot across the bow,” Kudlow said.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) agreed with Kudlow, saying on “State of the Union” that Trump should be given credit for taking such a strong stance against China.

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“I think we need a more nuanced approach, but I give the president credit for levying these tariffs against the Chinese, with whom we’ve talked for a decade about their unfair trade practices and their theft of intellectual property from American firms,” Collins said.

“This is costing us jobs in this country, and we do need to get tough with China, but we need to do so in a way that we do not spark a trade war and retaliation that will end up with our European and Asian competitors getting business that otherwise would have come to American farmers,” Collins added.

Kudlow argued that Trump’s threat of tariffs was necessary and would ultimately “generate very positive results, which will grow our American economy” and the global economy as a whole.

“China’s behavior is — 20 years now — it’s more than unfair trading practices. It’s illegal trading practices because they’re stealing our property rights, our intellectual property rights. They’re forcing technology from our companies to be open so they can get it, and they have tall trade barriers,” Kudlow said. “This stuff’s gotta stop.”

Kudlow also emphasized “this is a process,” noting that “no tariffs have been implemented yet.”

“So the president’s trying to get [China’s] attention again. The process may include tariffs. I cannot rule that out. It may rest eventually on negotiations,” Kudlow said. “We will see how the president wants to do it. He’s pretty good at negotiating. But he’s also pretty good at standing his ground.”

Related: Trump Is ‘First President to Fight Back’ Against China, Kudlow Says

White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro emphasized Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that Trump is moving forward with a “measured” set of policies against China.

“We’re moving forward [in] a measured way with tariffs, with investment restrictions,” Navarro said. “What we want from China is very clear. We want fair and reciprocal trade. We want them to stop stealing our stuff. We want them to guard intellectual property, not take it from us.”

“Bush and Obama, over the course of 16 years, basically stood by while we lost over 70,000 factories, millions of manufacturing jobs and much of our traditional manufacturing base,” Navarro added. “And what’s at stake is not just our economic prosperity … It’s also our national security.”

Navarro said China’s retaliation against the U.S. is “going to be a wake-up call for Americans.”

“We’ve changed now our designation in the national security strategy of China to a strategic competitor. What does that mean? It means that they are in competition with us over economic prosperity and national defense. And this is a competition the president takes very, very seriously,” Navarro said.

Trump took to Twitter on Sunday to tamp down speculation that his tariffs would irreparably harm U.S.-China relations and result in disastrous economic consequences.

Trump took to Twitter Sunday to tamp down speculation that his tariffs would irreparably harm U.S.-China relations and result in disastrous economic consequences.

“President Xi [Jinping] and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade,” Trump tweeted. “China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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