(AFP) President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.
At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.
But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.
“I have second thoughts about everything,” he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing’s earlier hike of levies on US goods.
Just hours later, top White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham issued a statement insisting that Trump meant completely the opposite.
“The president was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China’. His answer has been greatly misinterpreted,” she said.
“President Trump responded in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.”