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Trade war

Trump criticizes China trade and rejects globalism at UN

President's claim of 'accomplishments' is met with laughter

Donald Trump gave his second address to the U.N. General Assembly since becoming U.S. president.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- U.S. President Donald Trump took the stage at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to double down on his "America first" stance, rejecting "the ideology of globalism" and demanding change to a world trading system that allowed the long-standing U.S. trade imbalance with China. 

Trade issues were a prominent part of Trump's 35-minute address to diplomats and world leaders representing the 193 member countries of the global body at its annual general debate. The president praised the U.S. free trade agreement signed Monday with South Korea but took a number of jabs at China.

"I have great respect and affection for my friend, [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping], but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable," he said.

Trump slammed "government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises" used by countries "to rig the system in their favor."

"They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer and the theft of intellectual property," he said.

"China's market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated," Trump said, after suggesting the U.S. would "no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated or our wealth to be plundered."

"As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest," he said.

Trump continued his retreat from the U.S. role of global leader, asserting the importance of American sovereignty and independence above all.

"We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism," he said.

Trump is famous for his disdain of multilateral agreements and global institutions like the U.N. -- for which his administration has fought to reduce U.S. funding. And his speech drew a cool response.

"In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of my country," Trump said a few minutes into his remarks -- a line that sparked laughter from the audience.

"I didn't expect that reaction," he said. "But that's OK," Trump added, to brief applause.

Trump also claimed progress on North Korean denuclearization and thanked the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, whose "courage" he praised.

"With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace," the president said.

These warmer comments toward Pyongyang contrasted starkly with Trump's provocative language and threats of last year, which dominated news headlines and prompted a North Korean threat to conduct a hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean.

"'Rocket Man' is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime," Trump said of Kim when the president addressed the U.N. a year ago. "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

But as Trump suggested Monday upon entering the U.N. to head an event focused on the world's drug epidemic, "that was a very dangerous time. This is ... one year later, a much different time."

This year's speech comes as the American leader prepares for a second summit with Kim to follow their historic June meeting in Singapore, the first ever between the leaders of the countries. On Monday, Trump said he expects the next meeting to take place "quite soon."

Iran took many of the harshest barbs that Trump had reserved for North Korea just one year earlier. He called on countries to join him in isolating "the corrupt dictatorship in Iran" and noted that oil sanctions would go into effect against Tehran in November.

The American president also criticized the OPEC oil cartel, suggesting that "OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world."

"We are not going to put up with it -- these horrible prices -- much longer," he said, announcing that the U.S. "stands ready" to export its energy resources to allies. "We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices, and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on."

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