Trump talks tough on ‘enemy’ China

September 21, 2019

WASHINGTON  -- President Donald Trump said Friday that only a “complete” deal with China on trade will be acceptable and his tough approach won support from visiting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“I’m not looking for a partial deal. I’m looking for a complete deal,” Trump told reporters during a joint news conference with Morrison at the White House.

Trump denied that he was under pressure to resolve the massive trade dispute between the world’s two main economic powers, saying “I don’t think I need it before the election” in 2020.

Morrison, enjoying an unusually lavish reception and state dinner, said he backed the US push to force China to reform on issues that include routine violation of foreign companies’ intellectual property.

“We need to make sure that we all compete on the same playing field,” he said. China can’t have “special rules.”

Morrison’s supportive stance contrasted with worries he expressed in June about smaller economies suffering collateral damage in the US-China standoff and the global system coming “under real pressure.”

Later the United States Trade Representative’s office issued a statement announcing that deputy-level US and Chinese negotiators had completed “productive” talks in Washington on Thursday and Friday.

Top level talks are expected in October.

Dinner under the stars

This was only the second state-level visit to the White House granted under Trump and the first for an Australian premier here since John Howard in 2006.

In a shift from tradition, and taking advantage of perfect end-of-summer weather, the dinner was served under the stars in the Rose Garden.

Pale yellow tablecloths and floral arrangements decorated the tables, bathed in a golden glow from the outdoor lighting.  

Trump gave a toast praising the “free and proud spirit” shared by the two nations.

Earlier, Morrison and his wife were greeted with an honor guard, military band and 19 gun salute on the South Lawn.

“Australians and Americans understand each other like few other peoples,” Morrison said, adding that he and the Republican US president had also “established a very early understanding.”

In addition to Friday’s festivities, Morrison and Trump are due to reunite Sunday for a visit at a new Australian-owned factory in Wapakoneta, Ohio, that the White House says will “demonstrate the strong trade and investment relationship.”
Conservatives club Trump’s relations with the previous Australian premier, Malcolm Turnbull, got off to a bad start.

But Morrison has already cemented his place in a growing conservative club -- also including the likes of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- drawn into Trump’s orbit.

Trump and Morrison agree on much, with Australia joining the US-led patrols of the Strait of Hormuz off Iran and following Washington’s lead to exclude China’s Huawei from its 5G phone market.