President Donald Trump said “it doesn’t matter” if Chinese President Xi Jinping agrees to meet with him later this month to restart negotiations over trade because the US is collecting billions of dollars in tariffs on goods from the country.

“If he shows up, good,” Trump told Fox News on Friday. “If he doesn’t — in the meantime, we’re taking in billions of dollars a month.” He added: “Eventually, they’re going to make a deal, because they’re going to have to. Look, they’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Trump has repeatedly threatened to raise tariffs if Xi doesn’t meet with him at the G-20 leaders’ meeting June 28-29 in Osaka, Japan. Trump is committed to attending the G-20 regardless of whether he meets with Xi, US officials said. Trump said on Wednesday that he had no deadline for China to return to trade talks.

Talks with Beijing broke off last month after the US accused China’s leaders of reneging on provisions of a tentative agreement. Trump raised tariffs on about $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25%, and said he would expand the tariffs to cover another $325 billion in goods — substantially everything the country exports to the US — unless Chinese leaders reverse course.

Trump is “optimistic” he can find common ground with China if he’s able to meet with Xi, Kevin Hassett, the departing chairman of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters at the White House. “Communication is certain” between Trump and Xi regardless of whether it turns into a full meeting at the G-20, he said.

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Disputing economists

Trump repeated his claim that Chinese exporters bear the burden of the tariffs, disputing the consensus of economists that the costs are largely borne by US consumers in the form of higher prices.

“They subsidize their industry, so our people are not paying,” Trump said on Fox. “There’s this big thing about tariffs, ‘Oh, our people pay.’ It’s a lot of nonsense. You know what happens, really? Companies move back.”

Trump also again accused China of manipulating the value of its currency, the renminbi, to cushion the impact of US tariffs.

“Look, they’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars, I have 25% on $250 billion, and they subsidize it,” Trump said. “They’re manipulating their currency in order to pay for it, they’re manipulating their currency lower, eventually that’s going to hurt them very badly and they’re also giving money to these companies.”

China made moves to strengthen its currency this week, and during Trump’s presidency the US Treasury Department has repeatedly refrained from officially accusing China of manipulating the value of the renminbi.

While the US has complained for years that China keeps its currency artificially weak through intervention in foreign-exchange markets, the central bank in recent days has acted to underpin the yuan. The People’s Bank of China set its daily reference rate for the currency at higher than market watchers expected for a 10th straight day on Wednesday, the longest run since September.



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