Nikki Haley on Monday criticized former President Trump’s praise of Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling it abnormal.
“Praising dictators is not normal. Make America normal again,” Haley, Trump’s last remaining rival for the GOP presidential nomination, wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Haley was responding to Trump’s comments over the weekend describing the Chinese leader as a “very good friend” of his while threatening to increase tariffs on Chinese imports.
“Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo asked the former president if he would impose tariffs of 60 percent on all Chinese imports, as some recent reports have suggested.
“I would say, no, I would say maybe it’s going to be more than that because we’re going to have to … Look, I want China to do great, I do,” Trump responded. “And I like President Xi a lot. He was a very good friend of mine during my term.”
“I got along with him great. I’m not sure he loved what I was doing,” Trump added, before noting he does not think Xi wants him back in the Oval Office.
Foreign policy is a central focus of Haley’s presidential campaign, and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has repeatedly called out Trump’s apparent friendliness to foreign dictators.
The former president last year described Xi as “smart, brilliant, everything perfect,” and noted he runs China “with an iron first.”
Trump has spoken similarly about Russian President Vladimir Putin and claimed last year he was the “apple of [Putin’s] eye” during his presidency.
Later in the “Sunday Morning Futures” interview, Trump sought to clarify that he does intend to start another trade war with China.
“Not a trade war. I did great with China, with everything. China came in, they were going to destroy our steel industry, and I put tariffs, big tariffs,” Trump said. “And they stopped it. I have steel people, that every time they see me, they start to cry, they hugged me. They said, ‘You saved our industry.’ But now, we’re letting it go.”
During Trump’s presidency in 2018, he imposed a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, which the World Trade Organization later ruled violated global trade rules.
Haley has warned of the threat China poses to American security and prosperity while on the campaign trail.
Condemning Chinese communism, Haley contended last year that Trump was “almost singularly focused” on the U.S.-China trade relationship but did “too little about the rest of the Chinese threat.”
Trump continues to hold a comfortable lead over Haley in the GOP primary, as the former South Carolina governor seeks to reverse course in her home state’s primary later this month.
National polling indexes from The Hill and Decision Desk HQ show Trump with a 57.2 point lead nationally over Haley, while the former president has a 30.8 point lead in Haley’s home state.