On Thursday, February 23, President Donald Trump told Reuters that China is guilty of manipulating its currency to lower the price of the yuan in order to make its exports cheaper.“I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency. So I haven’t held back. We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. During the campaign Trump had promised to brand China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.
Those comments were reported just hours after the new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. Treasury had no immediate plans to label China a currency manipulator–certainly not until it had completed its scheduled investigation and report on the yuan due in April.
The Chinese government pushed back with some asperity–understandable since the People’s Bank has been spending foreign reserves hand over first recently in order to prop up the value of China’s currency. Today foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said his country had “no intention of deliberately devaluing its currency to gain a trade advantage.” Even though the People’s Bank has been selling dollars and buying yuan, China’s currency has fallen by about 13% from last year.
Trump’s charges come after a recent upturn in U.S.-China relations after the U.S. affirmed that it would stick to the “One China” policy that has underpinned the relationship between the two countries since Nixon’s opening to China in the 1970s. That improvement had led some optimists to believe that the Trump administration would avoid a threatened trade war with China.