Conventional wisdom among economists and free traders holds that Donald Trump’s trade war with China, while perhaps justified on the grounds of numerous Chinese transgressions, has nonetheless been pursued in a muddled fashion, with no clear goal or exit strategy. But this discounts the possibility that the trade war IS the goal: far from hoping to reach a compromise with the economically predatory Communist regime, Trump is actively trying to “de-couple” the two economies and thus protect America from the long-term threat of Chinese hegemony, argues Gordon Chang in the National Interest.
Chang asserts that the tariffs placed on Chinese goods are a legal and proportionate response to continued Chinese rule-breaking in areas like the theft of intellectual property, which continues unabated.
Further, given the long-term interests of the Chinese Communist regime — which do not include democracy, human rights, respect for international law or trade transparency — Chang suggests that actively contributing to Chinese prosperity is self-defeating for the West, and that Trump realizes this.
Money line: “It is hard to believe Chinese ruler Xi Jinping, who has made his admiration of Mao public, would ever accept fundamental economic reforms or even stop stealing. In these circumstances, therefore, decoupling makes sense.”
In this analysis, Trump is not engaged in a tactical skirmish with a foreign trade partner over terms of trade, but is consciously trying to reengineer global trade to disentangle America from the Chinese economy, with an eye to isolating China and frustrating the ambitions of the Communist regime. In this point of view, a global recession — while painful — would be a temporary price to pay for a long-term strategic rearrangement of the global economy.