Trump: China, other nations have become 'spoiled' on trade

U.S. President Donald Trump hosts a "California Sanctuary State Roundtable" at the White House in Washington. U.S., May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday that China and other countries had become “very spoiled” on trade, as U.S. and Chinese officials hold high-level talks in Washington on trade ties.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he doubted the trade talks with China would turn out to his satisfaction.

“The reason I doubt is because China has become very spoiled. The European Union has become very spoiled,” Trump said. “Other countries have become very spoiled because they always got 100 percent of whatever they wanted from the United States. But we can’t allow that to happen anymore.”

Trump, echoing a theme of his 2016 election campaign, said that the United States has been “ripped off” by China for years on trade.

“We have been ripped off by China, an evacuation of wealth like no country has ever seen before, given to another country that’s rebuilt itself based on a lot of the money they’ve taken out of the United States, and that’s not going to happen anymore,” the president said.

The United States ran a trade deficit with China of $375.2 billion in 2017, according to U.S. government data. In the first three months of 2018, the shortfall was $91 billion.

In this round of talks, the United States and China are trying to avert a damaging tariff war, with the Trump administration demanding a $200 billion cut in China’s U.S. trade surplus and greater protections for intellectual property.

Trump has threatened to impose up to $150 billion in punitive tariffs to combat what he says is Beijing’s misappropriation of U.S. technology through joint venture requirements and other policies. Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on some of its largest U.S. imports, including aircraft, soybeans and autos.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Justin Mitchell; editing by Grant McCool