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Trump: America is 'whipping post' and China is the No. 1 abuser

Republican candidate Donald Trump said the U.S. is being taken advantage of by other countries, and the biggest "abuser" is China.

"We're like their whipping post, the United States. We have people who don't understand the system. We have people that don't get it. We are being ripped by many countries, China being the No. 1 abuser. They do it better than anybody else," he said in an interview with CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Trump also said in the wide-ranging interview that it is wrong to view him as an "isolationist" and that he is a "free trader" if it's fair trade.

"Look our growth is almost nothing. We're almost flat, which is hard to believe. You know if China goes down to 7 percent it's like a national catastrophe. We're going down now, we're 1.2 percent. We're going to be lower than that it's looking like in the coming quarters. Think of it. China goes down to 7 percent, and then what they do is devalue their currency and they take more of our business and they start to go up again," he said.

Trump also criticized the 50 Republican national security officials who signed a letter declaring he would be a reckless president and put the nation's security at risk. Many of those officials were part of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Trump credited them with giving China advantages over the U.S. and for its military buildup. He also said he would never hire them if he becomes president.

"These are the people that got us into Iraq. These are the people that got us into all of the messes that we're in all over the Middle East. These are the people that have us in an economic condition where China has literally ripped the heart out of us, where China has taken so much money that they rebuilt themselves and they're building massive military complexes in the middle of the South China Sea. These are the people that represented us," he said.

But Trump added that he has no hard feelings toward China and that he does business with it.

"I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I have very big relationships with China, but the fact is China is the great abuser of the United States economically and we do nothing about it, and it would be very easy to stop," he said.

Alibaba Vice Chairman Joe Tsai, in a later interview on CNBC to discuss the Chinese online retailer's earnings report, disagreed with Trump's characterization.

"I have tons of respect for Mr. Trump, but sitting here, I feel like China is the whipping post for the United States," Tsai said. "What's important to see is the overall context of U.S.-China relations … We [Alibaba] are the gateway to China. So right now, if you're an American manufacturer, you're an American brand, that wants to access the China market, you should come and talk to Alibaba."

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