Does this official have a valid claim or is he just trying to cause chaos?
Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei called GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump an “irrational type” and said the U.S. “wouldn’t be entitled to world leadership” if it followed Mr. Trump’s proposed trade policies toward China.
Mr. Trump has advocated imposing up to 45% tariffs on China as a way to force it to change its trade policies. Mr. Lou, known in China for his bluff outspokenness, said in an exclusive interview with The Wall Street Journal that such a tariff would violate World Trade Organization rules. Under those conditions, he said, the U.S. wouldn’t be entitled to its position as the world’s major power.
Mr. Lou is correct on the trade rules, according to Jeffrey Schott, a trade economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank backing free trade.
“Almost any across-the-board tariff increase would violate U.S. obligations under the WTO,” he said.
A representative for Donald Trump wasn’t immediately available to comment.
Asked about the tough talk on China in the presidential campaign, from both Democrats and Republicans, Mr. Lou said Americans needed to recognize the U.S. and China “are mutually dependent on each other” and both have a lot to lose in any economic confrontation.
“Our economic cycles are intertwined,” he said. “We have more in common than sets us apart.”
Mr. Lou also said he understood that rhetoric in a presidential campaign gets heated and many times doesn’t reflect the policies an incoming administration would adopt. With a new administration, he said, “U.S.-China ties should be more or less as they are now.”
Mr. Lou is the most senior Chinese official to comment on Mr. Trump. In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was asked about the U.S. election—though not Mr. Trump specifically—and said it was “lively and caught the eyes of many.” In daily briefings, the foreign ministry declines to answer questions about the New York businessman or other U.S. presidential candidates.