The Donald Trump administration will not be soft on China and could declare the world's second-largest economy a "currency manipulator", Steven Mnuchin, the nominee for US treasury secretary has said.
"I would," Mnuchin said when asked by lawmakers during his confirmation hearing if he would declare China a currency manipulator as promised by Trump during his election campaign.
"In regards to my view on China, I 100% support the President's view, and that we need to look at China overall from a trade standpoint, and an economic standpoint, and a security standpoint," he told Senate Finance Committee.
Trump had during his campaign singled out China over its trade practices and had said he would negotiate a better deal for the US. And since his shock election in November, he has challenged Beijing over militarisation of the South China Sea, alleged currency manipulation and North Korea and threatening to up-end ties by offering greater political recognition to Taiwan.
During the hearing on Thursday, the lawmakers too expressed concern over China's aggressive behaviour and trade practices.
Senator Sherrod Brown told Mnuchin: "I want to talk to you about China. I've never met a Goldman Sachs banker who wanted to get tough on China. Based on your Wall Street background and financial dealings, I'm concerned about just what I've seen in the past with bankers and what I would say is soft on China.
"Relativity Media is a Beverly Hills company invested in movies, among other things. When you were co-chair there during 2014 and '15, the company received investment from Chinese investors in the company's films and partnered with the government of the People's Republic of China to promote and distribute Chinese films," he said.
"China readily admits it wants to become more powerful by increasing its cultural influence in this country and expanding its financial stake in the US film industry. You were a board member of a company that partnered directly with the Chines government, that increased their influence in Hollywood. Were you - were you helping China expand its global power," Brown asked.
Earlier in his testimony, Mnuchin said he will use the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to stop the financing of terrorism.
"I will partner with other federal agencies in our shared goal of allowing our financial markets to operate safely and keep our citizens secure in the knowledge that we are working for them ? 24/7," he said.
Mnuchin ruled out imposing a high tariff across the board. "Where the president-elect has talked about, I've never heard him talk about 30 or 35% tariffs across the board. I have heard him specifically say, well, if certain companies want to move their jobs, we're going to specifically put a tariff on them," he said.