Graham: ‘China Cheats’ on Trade, ‘We Don’t Do a Damn Thing About It’

South Carolina Senator and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham declared that “China cheats” on trade and “we don’t do a damn thing about” its currency manipulation at the Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire on Monday.

Graham was asked, “how do we maintain free trade that is fair trade, and what nations specifically, are cheating us?” He answered, “China is cheating. They manipulate their currency to create a discount for products made in China, and we don’t do a damn thing about it. They’re building islands on resource-rich territory owned by others because they can. They cyberattack us, steal our intellectual property, and nobody pushes back. If I’m president, we’re going to push back against China.”

Graham added, in response to a question on how he would handle hacking by other countries, “you hit back. You make them pay a price. Most people do things they can get away with, until it costs too much. And China, China cheats, they steal, but it’s just not China, we’re being walked all over. I’m tired of it. I want a clenched fist, and an open hand. To, Mr. Putin, if I’m president of the United States, you’ll have a different person to deal with. Why is he in the Ukraine today? Because when Obama drew a red line against Assad, and didn’t do anything about it, China thought, ‘Hey this is a weak guy. Let’s grab all we can grab.’ In the Ukraine, he took what he wanted. The Iranians, they don’t think that Obama’s going to use military force at all. And how could you get John Kerry away from the negotiating table? With a crowbar. So, at the end of the day, our foreign policy’s failing. We’re not respected around the world.”

Graham also stated that do deal with Russia, the US should arm Ukrainians, extract natural gas and export whatever the US doesn’t use to Europe to undercut Putin’s energy monopoly, and re-build NATO and the US military.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett