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Tillis Supports Trump In China Trade War, Saying 'There Could Be Some Damage'

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STEVE HARRISON
/
WFAE
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, says he supports President Trump's trade war against China.

Wall Street has been volatile due to the president’s escalating trade war with China, but Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis supports President Trump’s approach.

Speaking at a Charlotte Business Alliance roundtable Tuesday, Tillis said the U.S. must confront China now.

"Now what does that mean?" Tillis said. "It means there could be some damage along the way. If this is a protracted war, then there is always a consequence. Some businesses, some sectors could suffer. And I’m painfully aware of that and try to take care of those cases on a day-to-day basis."

One problem, Tillis said, is that China is playing a long game and hoping Trump loses the election. Trump, he said, is confronting China in a way no other Democratic or Republican president has.

"So, we get frustrated with the President cause we say, 'You’ve got to solve this trade deal,'" Tillis said. "China says, 'All we have to do is wait out President Trump.' We’ve got to recognize that the long-term economic consequences of expecting a quick fix could be devastating to business within the next 10 or 15 years."

Much of the roundtable focused on protecting American intellectual property, which Tillis said is critical to keeping the nation’s economic supremacy.

Tillis was asked about the president’s tweet last week in which he wrote that American companies in China “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” which could include moving back to the United States.

To do that, Trump has cited the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. That law could give the president power to control economic transactions during a national emergency, though experts have said it’s only been used to levy sanctions against foreign governments.

Tillis said he doesn’t know about the details of that law. He says China makes similar demands of its companies.

"On the one hand people would be disturbed by it," he said. "On the other hand, China tells their businesses what to do every single day."

Tillis’ primary opponent is Raleigh businessman Garland Tucker, who says Tillis isn’t conservative enough and hasn’t consistently supported the president. The party primaries in North Carolina are March 3.