Chinese leaders, with a country that boasts one of the largest economies in the world, is "very serious" about dealing with the United States while also protecting their homeland, Sen. David Perdue said Tuesday.
"They're already a $12 trillion economy," the Georgia Republican told CNBC's "Squawk Box." Adjusted, they're already almost our size."
Perdue, fresh off a tour of Asia, said that when his delegation met with some of China's top leaders, they learned that they are a country that's on the rise, and "we have to deal with them."
"The president's taken the right attack," he said. "He's gotten their attention. You see the week after we were over there that President XI [Jinping] came in and voluntarily offered to back up on some of the tariffs that they now have against the United States."
Similar offers have been made before, and Perdue said that's one reason President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on China.
He pointed to South Korea, where in the past year the United States has been talking and has developed a trade agreement.
Perdue said he has been a "fan" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but he does believe there are better deals to be had with bilateral agreements.
"You have to hustle to do that, because we have so many to do," the senator said. "We don't have a free trade agreement with Japan, for example. But of the 11 that we were talking about in TPP, seven or so we have bilateral agreements with. The problem is that China right now is re-establishing their intent to pull 16 countries together in their consortium. That worries me.
"I think we want a level playing field," said Perdue.
Meanwhile, Trump is not afraid to put things like tariffs into play, said Perdue, even if some of them will "create imbalances in terms of the U.S. economy right now."
"I was nervous about it, candidly," he said. "What I really wanted to do was let the changes we did last year in the economy have a run. Let the economy breathe again for the first time in a decade. I mean, what President Trump did last year was phenomenal. It was historic."
As a result, Perdue continued, more than three million jobs have been created.
"I'd love to see the economy take advantage of some of the $6 trillion we're going to see coming back into this economy because the regulatory work, because of the Dodd/frank bill we just passed in the Senate. Hopefully it will pass in the House."
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