Washington: In a remarkable volte-face on US-China relationship, President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday that Washington needed to improve its relationship with Beijing.
Trump criticised China repeatedly during his presidential campaign for currency manipulation and military build-up in the South China Sea, and drew a diplomatic protest from Beijing last week after speaking by phone with President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, which China considers a wayward province.
It was the first such top-level contact with Taiwan by a US president-elect or president since president Jimmy Carter adopted a "one-China" policy in 1979, recognising only the Beijing government.
Addressing a public meeting in Iowa on Thursday, Trump said: "One of the most important relationships we must improve is our relationship with China.”
However, he also accused China of being a manipulative economy.
"The nation of China is responsible for almost half of America's trade deficit. China is not a market economy. They have got a lot of help and that is why we designate them a non-market economy," Trump said.
"They haven't played by the rules and they know it's time that they are going to start. They have got to. We are all in this thing together. We have got to play by the rules," he said.
"You have the massive theft of intellectual property, putting unfair taxes on our companies. Not helping with the menace of North Korea like they should and at will and massive devaluation of their currency and product dumping," he said.
"Other than that, they have been wonderful, right?" he said.
Trump has picked Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as his next Ambassador to China.
"The man I have chosen as our ambassador to China is the man who knows China and likes China...And he knows how to deliver results and he will deliver results just like he has been delivering it for 23 years for the great farmers and for the people of Iowa," he said.
Trump said that Branstad has been on six trade missions to China and is highly respected by all the Chinese officials. He is also a native of Iowa.
"I know we will succeed in bringing our jobs back and I also know that China who has been so tough and so competitive...But I will tell you what, we're going to have mutual respect," Trump said.
"We are going to have mutual respect and China is going to benefit and we are going to benefit and Terry is going to lead the way," he said.
Trump said that he desires to see Apple and other companies to start building plants in the US.
"That is what I want to see. Big plants. Their biggest plants. Ethics reform will be a crucial part of our 100-day plan as well. We are going to drain the swamp of corruption in Washington DC," the 70-year-old President-elect said.
(With PTI inputs)