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Sen. Lindsey Graham: ‘God Bless Donald Trump for Finally Doing Something About China’

GOP senator spoke to Neil Cavuto of Fox News, who pressed him on the president's tariffs policy

In an interview with Fox News Channel’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) praised President Donald Trump for the work he’s doing to hold China to account.

Trade talks with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, “could be set to resume,” noted host Neil Cavuto on Tuesday, as the president calls “his G7 meeting” this past weekend “a success. Everyone is waiting to see what comes of them.”

Trump said on Monday, as Fox News reported, that officials from China called the U.S. — and that they expressed interest in “get[ting] back to the table,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Said Graham on Tuesday, “I think the president knows that if you surrender to China’s cheating, it will devastate our economy and the world economy over time. So the price to standing up to China, I think, is a lot less than just giving into China.”

“The tariffs are a tool,” he said. “Nobody likes it as policy, but I don’t see how you make China change their behavior until there’s a consequence to what they’re doing. That’s why we have the tariffs.”

Graham added that the “tariffs are generating revenue. He’s sharing some of that money with the farmers that have been hard hit. But tariffs, as a policy over time, I don’t really like, because it does eventually go to the consumer. But here’s what I do like. I do like the idea that President Trump, unlike every other president, is actually doing something about China’s cheating.”

The GOP senator said that he “liked President [George W.] Bush a lot, tried to work with President [Barack] Obama. President Trump has designated China as a currency manipulator, when the other two presidents refused to do so, because they are. And these tariffs are designed to get China to buy more of our products. The $500 billion trade deficit means that China is selling us $500 billion more than they buy from us. And the tariffs are trying to level that playing field, but mainly to change their business practices, which are way out of line with international norms.”

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Cavuto said he wondered “if the president is potentially deceiving people into thinking that China’s paying for this, and not them … The fact of the matter is, it’s American entities who are sucking that up. Some [are] passing that to consumers, other not. The latest wave that takes effect September 1, as you know, Senator, could be immediate — these up-to-15 percent tariffs that will affect school supplies and a host of other items. Are you worried that the president’s not conveying that?”

“They’re not outworking us, Neil. They’re just cheating us out of market share.”

“Well, I’m worried … that we won’t stand behind the president,” replied Graham. “I’m trying to be honest with folks. Listen, the steel and aluminum tariffs have hurt BMW. They have hurt Boeing. But the reason we are doing this is because China in one year, Neil, produced more steel than the entire world consumed. So Trump is pushing back against [the] Chinese dumping of steel and aluminum to give us a chance to recreate our steel and aluminum industry.”

He also mentioned the intellectual property theft by China. “If you go to China, they require you to have a Chinese business owner to do business in China. They steal your intellectual property and try to put you out of business. State-owned enterprises — steel companies, the largest cost is power generation … The Chinese government pays the power bill for Chinese steel mills. There’s no difference between the Chinese army, the business community, and government. They’re all one and the same. And this president is really hurting China, because the supply chain, Neil, is beginning to relocate. Because of these tariffs, it is now more expensive to do business in China. So people are looking to alternatives to the Chinese supply chain, which will devastate their economy over time.”

Related: Trump Is Raising Tariffs on China in a Bitter Trade War

The talk turned to the farming community — and the hits it may be taking because of this.

“Let me tell you,” replied Graham, “to our farmers here in South Carolina, either you’re going to fight China or you’re not. And I hate it, for the fact that the farm community suffers the most. No matter who you get in a trade dispute with, the first thing that goes is they start hitting farm products. Everybody wants to buy farm products made in America, so they do a lot of business in China. But how do you get China to change their currency manipulation, their intellectual property theft, state-owned enterprises competing with the private sector? How do you do that, unless you push back?”

“So, to the farmers,” he added, “it’s either pay now or pay later when it comes to China. They’re going to destroy the American economy and there will be nobody here really able to buy your products.”

“So, the textile industry was destroyed by China here in South Carolina. One day, commodities are going to come back in America if we push back against China. I know commodities go where the labor is the cheapest and all that good stuff. But … they’re not outworking us, Neil. They’re just cheating us out of market share. They’re cheating Europe out of market share. God bless Donald Trump for finally doing something about China.”

“Let me tell you about South Carolina,” Sen. Graham added. “We have got his back here when it comes to fighting back against China.”

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