US President Donald Trump continued his erratic assault on the truth and the English-language in a pair of sit-down interviews yesterday, resulting in perhaps our favorite exaggeration so far:
“[Our] relationship with China is long. Of course by China standards, it’s very short [laughter], you know when I’m with [Xi Jinping], because he’s great, when I’m with him, he’s a great guy,” Trump told The Economist. “He was telling me, you know they go back 8,000 years, we have 1776 is like modern history. They consider 1776 like yesterday and they, you know, go back a long time. They talk about the different wars, it was very interesting.”
Of course, China actually claims to have 5,000 years of continuous history. Not quite 8,000. This is starting to make us worry about the conclusions that Trump drew from the 10-minute Chinese-Korean history lesson given to him by Xi last month.
After that interlude, Trump went on to reiterate his favorite new talking point, defending his sudden flip-flop regarding China’s currency manipulation:
We got along great. So I told them, I said, “We have a problem and we’re going to solve that problem.” But he wants to help us solve that problem.
Now then you never know what’s going to happen. But they said to me that on the currency manipulation, “Donald Trump has failed to call China a currency manipulator”. Now I have to understand something. I’m dealing with a man, I think I like him a lot. I think he likes me a lot. We were supposed to meet for ten minutes and they go to 40-person meetings, OK, in Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach. And the ten minutes turned out to be three hours, alone, the two of us. The next day it was supposed to be ten minutes and then we go to our 40-person meeting. That, too, he was, no…because you guys were waiting for a long time. That ten minute meeting turned out to be three hours. Dinner turned out to be three hours. I mean, he’s a great guy.
Now, with that in mind, he’s representing China and he wants what’s best for China. But so far, you know, he’s been, he’s been very good. But, so they talk about why haven’t you called him a currency manipulator? Now think of this. I say, “Jinping. Please help us, let’s make a deal. Help us with North Korea, and by the way we’re announcing tomorrow that you’re a currency manipulator, OK?” They never say that, you know the fake media, they never put them together, they always say, he didn’t call him a currency [manipulator], number one. Number two, they’re actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.
At this point, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mercifully chimes in: “Right, as soon as the president got elected they went the other way.”
As has been pointed out countless times before, this is completely false. China’s undervaluation of its currency came to an end long before Trump even descended down the escalator inside Trump Tower to announce his candidacy. Yet during his campaign, he regularly bashed China for hurting American manufacturers by manipulating its currency, vowing that on his first day in office, he would declare China a currency manipulator.
In another “wide-ranging” interview yesterday. Trump told TIME about his blossoming bromance with the Chinese president, while also squeezing in some free promotion for his private club:
You know I have a lot of respect for President Xi [Jinping]. I have great respect for him. I think we have a very good mutual liking of each other. And I told you we had tremendous dialogue at Mar-a-Lago.
And Mar-a-Lago is a great place for the dialogue because there’s a warmth to Mar-a-Lago that you just don’t find anywhere else. You can sit down in a chair and just talk for hours. Where in some places you don’t have that.
And this is great. I mean it’s very different. But you don’t have that here. It’s not the same. It’s great in a different way.
We’ve never had the relationship that we have now. Now, in all fairness to President Xi, he loves China, he loves his people, and he is representing the people of China. He’s not representing the people of the United States. So we’ll see how that all turns out.
Meanwhile, China will be happy to learn that it might just catch up with the US in naval power sooner than expected, with Trump telling TIME about the future USS Ford-class carriers:
“You know the catapult is quite important. So I said what is this? Sir, this is our digital catapult system. He said well, we’re going to this because we wanted to keep up with modern [technology]. I said you don’t use steam anymore for catapult? No sir. I said, “Ah, how is it working?” “Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn’t have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam’s going all over the place, there’s planes thrown in the air.”
It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said-and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said what system are you going to be-“Sir, we’re staying with digital.” I said no you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.
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