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As Trump becomes presumptive nominee, China urges objectivity

Republican US presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump speaks to supporters following the results of the Indiana state primary

China on Wednesday urged people in the United States to take a rational and objective view of the relationship between the two countries, after Republican front-runner Donald Trump became the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

Trump has proposed that tariffs on imported Chinese goods be increased to up to 45 per cent and asserted that China had waged “economic war” against the United States, taking American jobs.

China is the United States’ largest trading partner.

Asked whether China was worried at the prospect of a Trump presidency, after his commanding win in Indiana and as top rival Ted Cruz bowed out of the race, a foreign ministry spokesman said the election was an internal affair he could not comment on.

“What needs to be pointed out is that the essence of Sino-US trade and business cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win, and accords with the interests of both sides,” Hong told a daily news briefing.

“We hope people in all fields can rationally and objectively view this relationship,” he added, without elaborating.

Chinese officials have generally avoided criticising Trump directly, though they have made indirect criticism of his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States and indirectly rebuffed his assertion that China is stealing US jobs.

However, last month Finance Minister Lou Jiwei criticised Trump, calling him “an irrational type” due to his tariffs proposal on imported Chinese goods.

The United States reported a $366bn trade deficit with China in 2015, up from $343bn in 2014 – the largest US trade imbalance with any nation.

China’s tightly controlled state media has largely stuck to reporting the facts about Trump, with some notable exceptions.

In March, influential tabloid the Global Times accused Trump of being a racist, warning that other extremists, such as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, had both been voted into power.

Reacting to Trump’s triumph on Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency noted he could beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton if he toned down his “explosive rhetoric”.

“Despite being a celebrity outside the United States, Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, simply neither excites nor galvanizes her base,” it said in an English-language piece.

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