Ken Langone: US helped China build its economy for decades, now it's 'time to pay the bill'

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It’s time for China to pay the U.S. back for the help its received over the last forty years, billionaire and longtime GOP supporter Ken Langone told CNBC on Wednesday.

“Remember where we started at, we did everything we should’ve done to help a nation that large and that significant get on their feed,” said Langone, also co-founder of Home Depot. “Now it’s time to pay the bill.”

Langone, also founder of investment bank Invemed Associates, added on “Squawk Box” that Trump is right in thinking that China is taking advantage of the U.S. If anything, it’s an issue the U.S. government should have dealt with 15 to 20 years ago, Langone said.

The U.S. and China have been involved in an escalating trade war over the past 15 months or so, with recent intentions to strike a “phase one” deal.

President Donald Trump, who has often said that Beijing takes advantage of Washington, has vowed to level the playing field through a trade deal and increasing tariffs. On Tuesday he told reporters that China has been “ripping off the United States for many, many years.”

While tariffs have created pain around the globe, Langone said he’s “glad Trump picked a fight” and fully expects a deal to be made between the world’s two largest economies.

“The guy’s not disappointing anybody by his behavior,” Langone said. “What he’s doing now, he did when he ran for president. He got elected.”

Langone’s comments show the stark contrast between U.S. and Chinese sentiment.

APCO’s Greater China Chairman James McGregor told CNBC on Tuesday that current belief among Chinese citizens is the U.S. should step back so Beijing can rise in power on the world stage.

“They’ve got the population, and because they control the propaganda, they have the people pretty much geared up here that this is China’s time,” said McGregor, a China-based consultancy executive.