The Sound Board Theater
12:15 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: By enacting the USMCA, we’ll strengthen our economy. And make no mistake about it: By passing the USMCA, we’ll strengthen the President’s hand in negotiations with China.
Seventeen years ago, America agreed to give Beijing open access to our economy: We brought China into the World Trade Organization.
Previous administrations, of one party and another, made the choice in the hope that freedom in China would expand in all of its forms if we opened our markets to them, and I’m not talking about just economically, but also politically — with a newfound respect for classical liberal principles, the rule of law, private property, personal liberty, and religious freedom. We hoped to see an expansion of the entire family of human rights in China. But over the past 17 years, we haven’t seen it.
In fact, the Chinese Communist Party has used an arsenal of policies inconsistent with free and fair trade — policies like tariffs and quotas, currency manipulation, forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and industrial subsidies — all the while, not becoming a freer society but actually, in so many ways, moving China in the opposite direction.
Now, these policies that they’ve implemented have built Beijing’s manufacturing base, but they’ve also resulted in a $500 billion annual trade deficit with America and hundreds of billions more in intellectual property theft every year.
But as I stand before you today here at the Detroit Economic Club, know this: Under President Donald Trump’s leadership, those days are over. (Applause.)
At the President’s direction, we’ve put tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, and we announced additional tariffs that will take effect soon. And just last week, we labeled China as a currency manipulator.
Now, let me be clear on this point: We don’t want China’s markets to suffer. In fact, we want them to thrive. President Trump has a positive relationship with President Xi, and we have great respect for the Chinese people. We’re in the midst of productive discussions with China, and they’ll continue in the weeks ahead.
But for the United States to make a deal with China, Beijing needs to honor its commitments, beginning with the commitment China made in 1984 to respect the integrity of Hong Kong’s laws through the Sino-British Joint Declaration. (Applause.)
As the President said yesterday, it will be much harder for us to make a deal if something violent happens in Hong Kong. And I want to assure you, our administration will continue to urge Beijing to act in a humanitarian manner and urge China and the demonstrators in Hong Kong to resolve their differences peaceably.
President Trump believes China wants to make a deal, but as the President has made clear, it’s got to be a deal on our terms, because China has had it so good for so long. And things have to change. And as the President has said, the days of stealing American jobs, American companies, and America’s ideas are over. And so they are. The time has come for China to come to the table, open their markets, and live by the rules of international commerce like every other industrialized nation does. (Applause.)
So we’re standing strong. And I want to assure you the United States will continue to engage in discussions with China, and we’ll continue to pursue a reset in our relationship until our trading relationship with China is free, and fair, and reciprocal.
Notes taken by staff