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Asserting that China is ripping US on trade, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has pledged to tax Chinese goods if Beijing does not stop engaging in practices like devaluing its currency.

"I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can’t deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don’t it. It’s not fair trade," Trump said appearing in the first Republican presidential debate of the year.

China, he argued, is ripping US on trade.

"They’re devaluing their currency and they’re killing our companies. We’ve lost anywhere between four and seven million jobs because of China. What I said then was, "we have very unfair trade with China. We’re going to have a trade deficit of 505 billion dollars this year with China."

"A lot of that is because they devalue their currency," Trump said.

"What I’m saying is this, I’m saying that we do it but if they don’t start treating us fairly and stop devaluing and let their currency rise so that our companies can compete and we don’t lose all of these millions of jobs that we’re losing, I would certainly start taxing goods that come in from China. Who the hell has to lose 505 billion dollars a year?" Trump said.

However, two of his rivals Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush — questioned the merit of such a decision arguing that this would end up taxing the American consumers itself.

"China doesn’t pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff.

If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States and an American goes to buy it at the store and there’s a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to price to the consumer," Rubio said responding to Trump’s plan.

"So the better approach, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves against China economically is to make our economy stronger," he added.

Bush said there would be retaliation from China on such a move from the US.

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