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US is in economic war with China: Bannon

White House chief strategist says US will hit China hard over trade practices

WASHINGTON: The United States is in an "economic war" with China, President Donald Trump's chief political strategist has said, warning that Washington is losing but about to hit China hard over unfair trade practices.

Mr Steve Bannon said this to US news site prospect.org in an interview published on Wednesday.

"It is in all their literature. They are not shy about saying what they are doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it is going to be them if we go down this path," he said.

"If we continue to lose it, we are five years away - 10 years at the most - of hitting an inflection point from which we will never be able to recover."

Mr Bannon said the US would use Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from US corporations doing business in China, and follow up with complaints against steel and aluminium dumping, according to prospect.org.

On Monday, Mr Trump authorised an inquiry into China's alleged theft of intellectual property in the first direct trade measure by his administration against Beijing.

Mr Bannon, who acknowledged he was battling trade doves within the US administration, said: "We are going to run the tables on these guys. We have come to the conclusion that they are in an economic war and they are crushing us."

NO MILITARY SOLUTION

He said there was no reason to go soft on China to get Beijing's support over North Korea as he believed China would do little more to rein in Pyongyang.

Mr Bannon said he might consider a deal in which China got North Korea to freeze its nuclear build-up with verifiable inspections and the US removed its troops from the Korean peninsula, but such a deal seemed remote, prospect.org reported.

In contrast to Mr Trump's threat of "fire and fury" against North Korea, Mr Bannon said: "There is no military solution (to the North's nuclear threats), forget it.

"Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I do not know what you're talking about."

Asked about any connection between his economic nationalism and white nationalism in the US, and in particular the racist violence in Charlottesville, Mr Bannon said: "Ethno-nationalism - it is losers. It is a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we have to help crush it, you know, help crush it more. These guys are a collection of clowns."

However, Mr Bannon, who used to lead right-wing website Breitbart, said focusing on race would help the Republicans.

"The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em. I want them to talk about racism every day.

"If the left is focused on race and identity and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats."- REUTERS

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