China Is ‘Killing Us as a Country’ Under Biden, Trump Claims

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Donald Trump accused China of “killing” the US and alleged that Joe Biden was bringing America closer to a world war during the first debate ahead of November’s presidential election.

“China is going to own us if you keep allowing them to do what they’re doing to us as a country,” Trump told Biden during a televised debate on Thursday evening.

“They are killing us as a country, Joe, and you can’t let that happen. You’re destroying our country,” he added, launching into criticisms of Beijing after being asked a question about the nation’s opioid crisis.

The Republican candidate slammed Biden’s military policies as “insane,” and claimed China’s leader, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, didn’t “respect” or “fear” the US president. “They have nothing going with this gentleman and he’s going to drive us into World War III,” Trump added.

Candidates on both sides of the tight race are trying to appear tough on China, ramping up threats of trade tariffs that appeal to voters looking to protect American jobs. Relations between the US and China stabilized after Biden met Chinese President Xi Jinping late last year, but Beijing’s military actions in the South China Sea and a surge in cheap exports from the world’s No. 2 economy have brought fresh tensions.

The reaction on Chinese social media was quite muted, with posts on the X-like site Weibo mocking both candidates and the debate. “It’s one old man trying to convince people he’s not crazy, and one old man trying to convince people he’s not senile,” one user wrote.

Meanwhile, shares of a Chinese company whose local-language name sounds like “Trump wins big” jumped by their daily limit during the debate.

Trump Attack

Trump attacked Biden as a “Manchurian Candidate” who was “paid by China,” without providing any evidence. The Biden campaign included that accusation in a list of 50 lies it said Trump told during the debate.

Trump added that America’s trade deficit with China was now the largest in history. Biden rejected that criticism, saying the US was running its “lowest trade deficit with China since 2010” and accusing his rival of failing to make “any progress” with Beijing.

The US trade deficit with China last year was $279 billion, according to the US Census Bureau. That was the lowest since 2010 and down from a record of $418 billion in 2018 when Trump was president.

The Republican previously said he’d raise tariffs by 10% on all imports and indicated he’d put taxes as high as 60% on products exported by China. Biden has maintained charges that Trump hiked on Chinese goods while president, announcing new tariffs as high as 100% on electric vehicles.

Trump brushed aside claims his policies would raise US inflation, and cause pain for American consumers. A hike in import taxes would likely raise costs for US households, according to economists, and be damaging to nations across Asia and elsewhere that run trade surpluses with the US.

Such hikes would only hurt countries “that have been ripping us off for years, like China,” Trump said. “It’s going to just force them to pay us a lot of money, reduce our deficit tremendously, and give us a lot of power for other things.”

--With assistance from Eric Martin, Josh Xiao and Katia Dmitrieva.

(Adds Biden response in eighth paragraph.)

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