Larry Kudlow said in an interview Monday that China has to 'got to act like' a First World country when it comes to trade.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow seemed to harden his stance toward China on Monday, while still maintaining a cautious tone on a flurry of tariffs the Trump administration rolled out last week.
Kudlow, who is the Director of the National Economic Council, said tariff threats on China are a means of cracking down on the country for intellectual property theft. Earlier this year, a US investigation found evidence that Beijing had stolen and coerced information from US companies.
"Somebody has got to say to China: 'You are no longer a Third World country. You are a First World country, and you've got to act like one,'" Kudlow said on CNBC. "There are laws on the books ... technology transfers have to stop. Stealing intellectual property has to stop."
At the same time, Kudlow questioned whether the tariffs threatened by Trump would actually be imposed, echoing a sentiment he and other White House officials have held since last week when trade war jitters sent markets tumbling.
"I don't know whether we're going to have tariffs or not," he added. "Hopefully it will be mostly negotiations, but you can't rule any of that stuff out."
The world's two largest economies have been slapping tariffs on one another since March 1, when the US announced it would tax China's aluminum and steel exports to the US. Since then, the US has released details on additional tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods. Beijing has retaliated by announcing more than $50 billion of tariffs on US exports to China.
A few hours after Kudlow's comments, President Donald Trump shifted blame away from Beijing.
"I don't blame China," Trump said at a Cabinet meeting around noon. "I blame the people running our country. I blame presidents, I blame representatives, I blame negotiators."