President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s “not liking” the military dynamic in eastern Asia, citing the militarization of the South China Sea and the ongoing development of North Korea’s ballistic missile program as causes for global concern.
“I know exactly what’s going on between China and North Korea and everybody else,” he told Reuters during an interview Thursday. “I’m not liking it.”
The president, who frequently pledged to stand up to China during his presidential campaign, blamed his predecessor for the dynamic.
“This didn’t take place under the Trump administration, this took place under the Obama administration,” Trump said. “Many things took place that should not have been allowed.”
The president added: “You were in a much better negotiating position three years ago. I am not happy about it.”
China has been developing outposts on artificial islands in the South China Sea for years as part of an increased militarization effort. North Korea, meanwhile, tested their ballistic missile capabilities as recently as Feb. 11.
President Trump, who said he’s had “very good” conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, repeated one of his frequent campaign criticisms of the global superpower Thursday, accusing them of intentionally keeping their currency low the dollar to cheapen Chinese exports.
“I think they’re grand champions at manipulation of currency,” he said. “So I haven’t held back. We’ll see what happens.”
And While Trump praised China for halting coal imports from North Korea, he stressed the country’s importance in avoiding escalating matters with the mercurial communist nation.
“Whether they say so or not is up to them, but they have tremendous control over North Korea,” he said. “I think they could solve the problem very easily if they want to.”
Despite Trump’s condemnations of North Korean military actions, the president left the door open when asked about a potential meeting with Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“I would never say no,” he said. “It may be very late. It’s very late in the picture right now. “