On the campaign trail, Donald Trump vowed that he would declare China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office. Trump has now been in office for 34 (long) days, and that promised declaration has yet to come.
Still, Trump claims that this doesn’t mean that he is holding back against China’s dastardly currency manipulating ways.
“Well they, I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back,” Trump told Reuters. “We’ll see what happens.”
Those vague comments contradict more definite ones made by Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who told CNBC on Thursday that he was not prepared to make an immediate judgement on China’s currency practices.
“We have a process within Treasury where we go through and look at currency manipulation across the board. We’ll go through that process. We’ll do that as we have in the past,” Mnuchin said. “We’re not making any judgments until we go continue that process.”
That means we’ll have all have to wait until April, when the first regular Treasury report of the year is due to be released, to learn about China’s fate.
Trump’s comments often disagree with both his own cabinet members and reality. He has long charged Beijing with artificially keeping the value of the renminbi low in order to hurt American manufacturers. Trump has stuck with this conviction, even as data, the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury Department say that it is false with most experts believing that China is in fact manipulating the yuan up, not down.
Beijing also disagrees with Trump’s claim. At a regular press briefing on Friday, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that China had “no intention of deliberately devaluing its currency to gain a trade advantage”.
“If you must pin the label of ‘grand champion’ … on China, then we are a grand champion of economic development,” Geng continued. “We’ve made great achievements since the start of economic reform and opening-up, making us the undisputed grand champion.”
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