On Friday evening, US President Trump addressed the escalating trade spat between Washington and Beijing, claiming that “this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents.”

US President Donald Trump has clarified his recent remarks on the Washington-Beijing trade row, in which he specifically declared himself “the chosen one” to tackle the standoff.

"You know exactly what I meant. It was sarcasm. It was joking, we were all smiling. And a question like that is just fake news," Trump told reporters before departing for the Group of Seven summit in the French resort of Biarritz.

Trump spoke a few days after he described his increase of pressure on China as an attempt to clean up messes left by his predecessors, such as Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama.

“Somebody said this is Trump’s trade war. It’s not my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents,” Trump argued, adding that “somebody had to do it” and that he is “the chosen one”.

“Somebody had to do it, so I took on China. I took on China on trade, and you know what? We’re winning,” the US President noted.

Trump Announces  New Tariffs on Chinese Goods

The remarks came as Trump announced that the White House will raise existing duties on $250 billion in Chinese products from 25% to 30% starting 1 October, and from 10% to 15% on another $300 billion in Chinese goods as of 1 September.

He has also accused China of stealing “vast amounts of money from the United States”, insisting that “we don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them”.

This followed a move by China on Friday to impose a new batch of 10 and 5 percent tariffs on $75 billion worth of US imports starting from 1 September and 15 December, respectively. The US goods will include soybeans, wheat, corn, sorghum, beef, pork and crude oil.

Additionally, Beijing pledged to re-impose previously-suspended tariffs on imported US cars and components, with the Chinese  Finance Ministry stating that the measure is due to enter force on 15 December.

The Washington-Beijing trade spat has been escalating since mid-2018, when Trump announced tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports to help fix a $400 billion trade deficit that he claimed was caused by China’s “unfair trade practices”. Since then, the sides have exchanged a spate of hefty reciprocal tariffs.