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Trump blames predecessors, not China for unfair trade practices

President Trump in China on Thursday blamed past administrations instead of Beijing for “unfair” trade practices, offering a starkly different tone from the rhetoric he used during his campaign.

Trump said during an event in Beijing that he does not place blame on China for what he described as “one-sided and unfair” trade practices, noting he gives “China great credit.” 

"I don't blame China," he said. "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit if their citizens? I give China great credit."

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“But, in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow,” Trump said.

“We have to fix this because it just doesn't work for our great American companies, and it doesn't work for our great American workers. It is just not sustainable. I look forward to working toward that goal and to pursuing fair and lasting engagement.”

Thursday's comments, made during Trump’s five-nation tour of Asia, are a sharp contrast from his harsh rhetoric during the campaign, when he repeatedly railed against China about trade.

“We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” Trump said during May a rally last year, as reported by CNN.

Trump on Thursday also lauded Chinese President Xi Jinping for his efforts to help curb North Korea’s aggression through financial pressure, but he still called on China to “act faster.”

“Time is quickly running out. We must act fast, and hopefully China will act faster and more effectively on this problem than anyone,” Trump said. “I'm also calling on Russia to help rein in this potentially very tragic situation.”

This report was updated at 7:29 a.m.