Trump says US will no longer be taken advantage of on trade

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DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — Hours after leaving Beijing, President Donald Trump on Friday delivered what appeared to be a sharp rebuke to China, declaring that he won’t allow the U.S. to be “taken advantage of anymore” when it comes to trade.

Speaking at a gathering of CEOs at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, Trump said: “From this day forward we will compete on a fair and equal basis.”

“We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first,” he said.

It was a striking change of tone from the day before, when Trump set aside his previous blistering rhetoric in favor of friendly overtures to China as he sought to flatter his host into establishing a more balanced trade relationship, rather than lecturing.

The 5-month-old bar named after President Donald Trump is seen on November 9, 2017 in Danang, Vietnam. Nguyen Ha Anh Tuan, 32 – owner of Trump Bar, states that he likes Trump’s turbulence and he wants to bring that spirit to his bar. According to Tuan, naming his bar after the U.S President is “an wise marketing move”. U.S. President Donald Trump, who is on a 12-day Asia trip, will take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit hosted by Vietnam this year. The APEC leaders meeting, which opens on Friday in Danang, Vietnam, aims to promote free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

In Beijing, Trump criticized the “very one-sided and unfair” relationship between the U.S. and China. But unlike his approach during the presidential campaign, when he castigated China for what he contended were inappropriate trade practices, Trump said Thursday that he didn’t blame the Chinese for having taken advantage of the U.S. in the past.

Trump said China “must immediately address the unfair trade practices” that drive a “shockingly” large trade deficit, along with barriers to market access, forced technology transfers and intellectual property theft.

“But I don’t blame China,” he said. “After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens?”

To applause, Trump said, “I give China great credit.”

Trump also said Friday the whole world was being lifted by America’s economic renewal, and that a “new optimism” has swept across the U.S. since his election.

Trump said he’d had the pleasure of sharing the “good news from America” everywhere he’s been on his first official visit to Asia.

“The whole world is lifted by America’s renewal,” he said.