President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he no longer believes China manipulates its currency, a complete shift from the position he repeatedly took during his 2016 campaign.
“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump told the the Wall Street Journal during an Oval Office interview.
The reason he changed his mind, the president said, was because China has stopped manipulating its currency in recent months and the accusations could jeopardize U.S. negotiations with China to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea.
Trump's flip flop comes just days after the president hosted his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago in southern Florida.
Throughout the campaign, Trump repeatedly said he would instruct his Treasury Secretary to label China “a currency manipulator.” And as recently as 10 days ago, he told the Financial Times that China was the "world champion" of currency manipulators.
The official label would need to be included in a semiannual Treasury report expected this month.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a longtime critic of how the Chinese government values its currency, released a statement saying Trump is giving China “a green light to steal our jobs and wealth time and time again.”
“The best way to get China to cooperate with North Korea, is to be tough on them with trade, which is the number one thing China’s government cares about,” Schumer said.
Trump also signaled in the interview with the Journal that he may be willing to change his position on re-nominating Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen next year.
Trump had accused Yellen of keeping interest rates low for political reasons under President Barack Obama. But on Wednesday he said he likes a low-interest rate policy.
“I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that’s my fault because people have confidence in me. But that’s hurting — that will hurt, ultimately,” Trump said.
He said Yellen was “not toast” and he would consider renominating her next year.