President Donald Trump will accuse China, America’s largest trade partner, of “economic aggression” when his administration rolls out its national security strategy on Monday, according to a report by the Financial Times.
However, a White House official told CNBC that the Financial Times report is “not accurate.”
“The phrase is not specifically linked to China,” the official said.
Several people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times that Trump would propose a much tougher stance on China than past administrations.
Trump repeatedly slammed China on the campaign trail over trade, but he softened his stance after meeting with President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort earlier this year, as Washington sought Beijing’s assistance in dealing with North Korea.
Since taking office, Trump has said he doesn’t blame Beijing for the U.S. trade deficit with China, and he has declined to label China a currency manipulator.
But Trump has grown frustrated with what he views as a lack of progress in convincing China to help reduce the trade deficit and reign in North Korea, a person familiar with the matter indicated to the Financial Times.
“The national security strategy is likely to define China as a competitor in every realm,” the person said. “Not just a competitor but a threat, and therefore, in the view of many in this administration, an adversary.”
“This is not something that they just cooked up,” the person said. “Mar-a-Lago interrupted the campaign rhetoric, and Xi Jinping took a little gamble and came here and embraced Trump. Trump said ‘fine, do something on North Korea and on trade’, but that didn’t work out so well.”
China’s U.S. embassy was not immediately available for comment.