(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump went after his potential re-election challenger, Joe Biden, on Monday for minimizing the economic threat posed by China, and said Beijing wants the former vice president elected to replace him.
“They want Biden so that China can continue to make $500 billion dollars a year and more ripping off the United States,” Trump said at rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, on behalf of a Republican running in a special election for the House.
Biden downplayed China while campaigning in Iowa City, Iowa, on May 1, drawing criticism from some of the other Democrats challenging him for the party’s nomination.
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” Biden said, according to CNN. “You know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not -- they’re not competition for us.”
Trump has escalated his trade war with Beijing, raising tariffs on $200 billion of the country’s U.S. exports this month after he said its leaders reneged on a tentative trade deal. Last week, his administration targeted one of China’s largest tech companies, Huawei Technologies Co., by threatening to cut it off from U.S. suppliers, alleging that it poses a national security threat.
“Past leaders let China freely plunder the U.S. economy and take the crown jewels of American industry,” Trump said. He added that he was “defending our workers with tariffs and anything else that’s necessary.”
A Biden spokesman, Andrew Bates, said after the former vice president’s remarks on China that he “believes it’s never a good bet to bet against America and the fundamental strength, resilience, and ingenuity of its people. If Republicans are so scared of Joe Biden that they want to take the other side of that bet to try and score political points, then they’re welcome to it.”
Pennsylvania, which Trump narrowly won in 2016, is a top focus of his re-election campaign. “I’ll be here a lot,” the president promised his audience on Monday.
Trump boasted that tariffs he’s levied on Chinese goods and other imports including steel and aluminum would bring in $100 billion to the U.S. Treasury. Most economist say that U.S. citizens wind up footing the cost of tariffs in the form of higher prices, but Trump rejects that argument and claims without substantiation that foreign countries pay his duties.
The president began telling his audience that he planned “to take a little bit” of the $100 billion in tariff revenue but was interrupted by a medical emergency in the crowd before he said how he would use the money. He didn’t return to the subject after he resumed speaking.
--With assistance from Jennifer Epstein and Jennifer Jacobs.
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