The Corner

Economy & Business

China Trade Has Been a Bust, but This Is Not How to Deal with It

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

I wrote about China and Trump’s tariffs today for Politico:

There’s already a trade war, and it’s being waged by Beijing.

China’s ascension to the World Trade Organization nearly 20 years ago has failed in its large-scale strategic objectives. It hasn’t created a liberalizing regime or a free-market economy in China; in fact, it hasn’t even created a China ready and willing to abide by the norms of free trade….

President Donald Trump’s prospective tariffs on steel and aluminum have put renewed focus on China trade, although the tariffs, at least as announced by Trump, are a comically inept misfire if their true target is China. The rubric for the levies could be: “How to lose a trade war with China in one easy step.”

The tariffs don’t really affect China, from which we import only about 3 percent of our steel. Meanwhile, they send the message that the U.S. government is lurching toward protectionism under risible pretenses (the idea that the tariffs are necessary to national security, when the largest importer of steel to the U.S. is Canada, is laughable). And they alienate allies.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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