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Trump stresses 'unmatched' defense, fixes to infrastructure

By ZHAO HUANXIN in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-01-31 23:50

US President Donald Trump gestures at the podium in front of Vice-President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan during his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress inside the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday. REUTERS

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday called for bipartisanship to help make good on promises on infrastructure and immigration, while claiming that "unmatched power" is the surest defense against threats to the country.

In his first State of the Union address, Trump said, "Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve."

Trump used the speech, given annually by presidents to Congress, to try to overcome doubts about his presidency at a time when he is battling a probe into his campaign's alleged ties with Russia and facing low job approval ratings. The speech was short on details of his policy proposals, according to Reuters.

Continuing the tenet embodied in the US National Security Strategy delivered a month ago, Trump said China and Russia threatened American values, saying that the US faced "rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values".

Trump said "unmatched power" is the surest defense against threats from rogue regimes, terrorist groups and rivals like China and Russia.

He said that's why he's asking Congress to remove budget caps on defense spending and fully fund the US military.

The US president also criticized unfair trade deals and accused the world of taking advantage of the US on trade.

Trump devoted a significant portion of the speech to tout the achievement in the first year of his presidency, including what he said are the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history that he signed at the end of last year, promising the plan will "provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses". He also talked of jobs returning to the US and the record stock market growth.

Trump spoke about potential agenda items for 2018, including a call for a $1.5 trillion investment plan to renew the country's creaking transportation infrastructure.

Blaming "deadly loopholes" and "open borders" for allowing drugs and gangs "to pour into our most vulnerable communities", Trump called on Congress to "set politics aside" and overhaul the nation's immigration system.

Trump said Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear missiles could "very soon" threaten the US homeland and vowed to continue a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.

In the official Democratic Party response to Trump's address on Tuesday night, US Representative Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts said it would be easy to dismiss the first year of Trump's presidency as "chaos" marked by partisanship and politics.

AP and Reuters contributed to this story.

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