Magazine July 6, 2020, Issue

Trading with the Enemy

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Why tariffs on China aren’t working

Policymakers and commentators, especially on the right, are increasingly hostile to trade with China. The new mood has been a long time coming. China has been growing in wealth and power while its regime remains repressive at home and assertive abroad: a combination that was bound to raise American concerns. Academic and political developments in the U.S. heightened them. An influential paper by a trio of economists including MIT professor David Autor suggested that trade with China had led to the loss of more American jobs than had previously been believed. Chinese imports could thus plausibly be blamed for social

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