Trump tells Americans they'll have to 'learn to speak Chinese' if he loses to Biden in 2020
- President Donald Trump on Tuesday said China would "own" the US if he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden.
- "If I don't win the election, China will own the United States—you will have to learn to speak Chinese!" Trump said.
- The Biden campaign in response told Insider that Trump has been "the weakest president in American history with respect to China."
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday said Americans would have to "learn to speak Chinese" if he loses the 2020 election to former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump was implying that Biden would be soft on China, though in reality the former vice president's campaign has taken a fairly hawkish stance toward Beijing.
"All they're waiting for, and China too, is that I'm defeated. Because if I'm defeated, China will own the United States," Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
"If I don't win the election, China will own the United States—you will have to learn to speak Chinese!" Trump added.
The Biden campaign slammed Trump over his remarks.
"As a consequence of Donald Trump's failures, by every metric, China's position is stronger and ours is diminished," Andrew Bates, director of rapid response for the Biden campaign, told Insider.
"Trump has been the weakest president in American history with respect to China. As the most devastating public health crisis in 100 years rapidly spread, he echoed Chinese Communist Party propaganda to downplay the threat and justify inaction — disregarding warnings from the intelligence community and Joe Biden not to take their word," Bates added.
Bates said Trump has created a power vacuum in the world that China has filled, stating this is "precisely why numerous Chinese officials are openly pulling for Donald Trump to win, and why the American people absolutely can't afford that outcome."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
Over the course of the 2020 election cycle and amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen US public sentiment toward China grow increasingly negative, Trump and Biden have often competed to appear tougher on Beijing.
Unlike Biden, however, Trump has leaned heavily into xenophobic rhetoric in the process. The president has routinely referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus," even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged against such discriminatory language and stigmatizing particular groups in relation to the virus.
COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China. While Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping over his handling of the virus early on, he shifted to blaming China for the pandemic as cases began to spread at scale in the US. His attacks on China have been part of a broader effort on Trump's part to deflect from his own failures in handling the virus.
Trump has continuously downplayed the threat of COVID-19 while treating it as someone else's problem. Public health experts widely agree that Trump's response to the pandemic has been disastrous. The US has the highest reported coronavirus numbers in the world, with over five million confirmed cases and nearly 164,000 deaths.
On Monday, Trump urged Americans to "stop politicizing" COVID-19 moments before once again blaming China for the pandemic. But if the president is hoping this strategy will boost his campaign, there's slim evidence to support that notion.
Polling in recent months has generally showed that Americans think Biden would handle US relations with China better than Trump. Meanwhile, Trump is trailing Biden badly in the national polls.
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