House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected Democrat in American politics at the moment, in an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday, backed up Republican President Donald Trump’s stance on China.

“The President is correct in asserting what we have to do with China,” Pelosi said when asked by the Post‘s Robert Costa if the president should hold the line against the Chinese in trade negotiations. 

While Pelosi praised Trump for being “correct” in saying what the United States has to do to stand up to the Chinese Communists in Beijing, she said doing so helps the Chinese hurt Americans. “How he’s doing it, though, is empowering them to hurt our people,” Pelosi added.

When Costa asked her to more deeply explain that point, she said that Trump should engage the Europeans more in standing up to the Chinese.

Pelosi said:

Well, I think that what could have been done–and I’ve suggested this–is that, for a long time, the Chinese ripped us off, and they continued to do so, but they were using our money and spending it at other places, like they were buying from the EU with our money, and the EU was letting them–giving them a pass on human rights and other things, until what’s a nice word for “suckered”?

She added:

Until they suckered the UN and EU into their web, and now the EU has a trade deficit with China. So, my thought was, if you have a multilateral approach to this, where we’re all saying to the Chinese, “This has to stop,” that would be real leverage. But, instead, the President put tariffs on EU and made them unhappy with us, and the Chinese were laughing all the way to the bank because it kind of weakened the leverage we could have had working together.

Pelosi also said she does not expect the United States and China to actually reach a deal this week–or ever–because the Chinese will renege on it. But then, she added again that Trump is “correct” to attempt to “change” this “major, major challenge” for the United States.

“Let me just say that, first of all, I never believed that the Chinese were going to honor what they said they were going to do, so that I was always, where is the enforcement?” Pelosi said, continuing:

In any trade agreement, if you don’t have enforcement, all you’re having is a conversation and a cup of tea. It’s not–you have to have very strong enforcement. And I’ve had the Chairman of the People’s Congress, the second most important person in China, after the President, the Chairman of the People’s Congress in my own office say to me, “When we joined the WTO, we were told we didn’t have to obey all those rules.” So, they’re not–even in the WTO, they had not abided by. This is a very major, major challenge, and the President, I think, is correct to try to change it, but you have to come in with as much strength as possible, and so I wasn’t–I was informed yesterday morning–what’s today?–Monday morning, by the trade representatives that they were just going to take a walk from it, but I wasn’t surprised at all.

Pelosi was also very critical of China’s handling of human rights.

“Well, I believe that–look, you don’t know this because you were probably just born then, but I have been almost 30 years fighting China on trade, human rights, and proliferation of technologies, unsafe, whether it’s missile systems and ring magnets used in centrifuge for enrichment of uranium and the rest,” Pelosi told Costa. 

Pelosi continued:

There isn’t a day that goes by–and I say this to the President–I’m not up to date on my China in terms of security, commerce, and human rights. Right now, they have a million Uyghurs in education camps, and nobody is saying anything about it. They’re trying to do away with the culture of Tibet, religion, language, and culture of Tibet. They’re arresting–they’re undermining the democratic reforms in Hong Kong. So, from a human rights standpoint, a values standpoint, I wonder what–how those play in the negotiation. They have–are asserting themselves in a security front that has concern, but they had been selling missile technology to rogue countries–countries of concern for a long time. And I thought at the time, when I started this–it will be 30 years in another month the for Tiananmen Square massacre. One year–within the following year, we started to say, “How can we use our trade situation as a lever to release the prisoners of Tiananmen, to stop the sale of the delivery systems and to gain market access?”, to gain markets access, to stop the piracy of our intellectual property and all the other concerns that we had. The trade deficit at the time was $5 billion a year. $5 billion? I thought, “Oh, my God. $5 billion. We’re certainly going to free the prisoners of Tiananmen Square. We’re certainly going to get a change in their behavior in so many ways for $5 billion.” Democratic and Republican Presidents, President Clinton and President Bushes, all, “You’re wrong.” I could win the vote in Congress, but I couldn’t override a veto on Most Favored Nation status for China on this. “You’re wrong. It’s going to work itself out.” “Peaceful evolution,” we call it. Do you know what the trade deficit is now?  Over $5 billion a week.

Pelosi’s comments on Trump’s approach to China come just after Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Democrats’ top official in the Senate, encouraged Trump to remain strong in the negotiations with the Chinese:

While unclear what will happen next, President Trump has said he will increase tariffs on certain Chinese imports on Friday–and that he will install tariffs on other Chinese imports as well–if the Chinese do not agree to terms quickly. The Chinese reportedly had agreed to a deep dive deal with significant structural changes to their operating systems in Beijing but then backed out of it and pushed to renegotiate.

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