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Trump taps China ambassador, named Time person of 2016

Donald Trump,  PHOTO: AFP

Donald Trump, PHOTO: AFP

Donald Trump selected a Midwest governor with close ties to China as ambassador to Beijing as he was named Wednesday Time’s “person of the year” and signalled tough “American first” economic policies.

The president-elect announced his selection of Iowa’s Terry Branstad, a key Trump supporter and one of the longest-serving governors in the country, at a fundraising breakfast in New York on Wednesday, a spokesperson confirmed.

China responded swiftly by calling Branstad an “old friend,” indicating that his nomination may ease disquiet sparked in America’s largest trading partner when Trump took a protocol-busting phone call with the leader of Taiwan.

The maverick real estate tycoon, who has never previously held elected office, has lashed out at China accusing Beijing of currency manipulation, unfairly taxing US exports and militarizing the South China Sea.

The phone call risked a serious rift with Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory. China has urged Washington to block President Tsai Ing-wen from passing through the United States, after reports said she may stop in New York.

“We’re going to defend American jobs,” the incoming Republican president said Tuesday in Fayetteville, North Carolina on the second leg of an unorthodox victory tour of key swing states that helped secure his shock election.

“We have to look at it almost as a war,” he added.

Trump boasted of securing a $50 billion Japanese investment to create 50,000 American jobs and his intervention last week to save hundreds of manufacturing jobs from leaving Indiana for Mexico.

– Pressure on Apple –

The billionaire campaigned hard on a promise of bringing back jobs to America’s former manufacturing heartland — hard hit by companies taking jobs to cheaper labor markets in China or Mexico.

In an interview with Time, published to mark his accolade as the magazine’s “person of 2016,” Trump said he had asked Apple to build a plant in the US. The bulk of the company’s manufacturing takes place overseas.

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, who announced the $50 billion investment with Trump in New York on Tuesday, brandished a piece of paper that indicated SoftBank and Foxconn, the Taiwanese technology giant, “commit to invest $50bn + $7bn in US, generate 50k + 50k new jobs in US in next four years.”

Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple, has confirmed it is in “preliminary discussions” over a new US investment which analysts say reflects pressure on Apple to refocus on the United States.

“Trump is pressuring Apple to return to the United States and Foxconn as an Apple supplier is going there to be near its client to strengthen its ties with Apple,” said Arthur Liao, an analyst at Fubon Securities.

Son pointed to Trump’s business experience as a plus, saying he expected the new president to introduce various forms of deregulation

“He has a lot of experience as a businessman. Unlike many politicians who do a lot of talking, but only talking, I feel like he will take action,” Son told Japanese journalists in New York.

Trump has also threatened to cancel a ballooning contract for two new Air Force One jets, one of the most glittering assets of the US presidency, in an apparent drive to cut back on government spending.

– ‘They love me’ –

“We’re going to get the prices down. If we don’t get the prices down, we’re not going to order them, we’ll stay with what we have,” Trump told NBC.

US media reported on Wednesday that he had selected his third former general to join his cabinet — John Kelly to run homeland security.

Time named Trump as its “person for 2016” for his stunning electoral upset which empowered a frustrated electorate that few others recognized but warned that the election had left behind a deeply divided country,Many Americans are deeply alarmed by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric against illegal immigrants, Muslims and women during the campaign.

On Wednesday, Trump denied that the division was his fault and told NBC that he “really liked” President Barack Obama and even discussed some of his possible appointments with the outgoing Democratic president.

“There are some people that I will be appointing and in one case have appointed where he thought very highly of that person,” he said.Speaking to Time, Trump denied that the vast opulence of his New York penthouse sits uncomfortably with his working class support.”They love me and I love them,” he told the magazine.”I think people aspire to do things and they aspire to watch people,” he said.

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