President Donald Trump said this week he does not fault China for trade practices that have focused on benefiting its citizens at the expense of the United States.
His remarks followed two hours of talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, CNN reports.
"I don't blame China," Trump said to applause. "After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for benefit of their citizens? I give China credit."
The remarks marked a change from comments Trump made on the campaign trail where he lambasted China for one-sided trade practices. At that time, Trump accused China of "raping" the U.S. economy and labeled China a currency manipulator, an accusation he later walked back.
Rather than focusing the blame on China, Trump instead blamed previous presidential administrations for forging deals that were detrimental to the U.S. economy and its citizens.
"We want a vibrant trade relationship with China," Trump said. "We also want a fair and reciprocal one. Today, I discussed with President Xi the chronic imbalance in our relationship as it pertains to trade and the concrete steps it will take to solve the problem of massive trade distortion."
"As two distinctive countries, our two sides may have different views or differences on some issues. This is natural," Xi said. "The key is to properly handle and manage them."