By pursuing a tariff-driven, ‘America-first’ trade policy, Donald Trump has made the United States less secure and more susceptible to manipulation by the Chinese government, according to a new book by the former National Security Advisor John Bolton. In reporting on the book, many news articles have overlooked one of the lessons of Bolton’s revelations: protectionist trade policies can make America more vulnerable.
Donald Trump has pleaded with Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him politically by buying more goods from American farmers, according to Bolton. However, Chinese entities have already purchased a large amount of American agricultural products before Trump raised tariffs on Chinese imports and left to market forces, China would have continued to import large quantities of American agricultural products. Trump believed he had to sell American interests to help his political fortunes, Bolton reports. Trump’s political decision in 2018 to raise tariffs on Chinese goods led the Chinese government to retaliate against US imports, which hurt farmers.
The numbers tell the story. In 2017, before Donald Trump levied tariffs on Chinese imports, American farmers exported nearly 32 million tons of soybeans to China. In 2018, after China’s tariffs and retaliation, US farmers exported about 8 million metric tons of soybeans to China, a 74% drop. The decline has caused great hardship for farmers in the Midwest and, according to Trump, hurt him politically.
The harm done to farmers paved the way for Trump’s controversial actions during the meeting with Xi Jinping. “President Trump has asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 U.S. election, telling Xi at a summit dinner last year that Beijing’s increased agricultural purchases from U.S. farmers would help his electoral prospects,” the newspaper reported. washington post Josh Dawsey. “During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about criticism of China in the United States. But Bolton writes . . . that ” Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats.Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.
“He then, surprisingly, turned the conversation to the upcoming US presidential election, alluding to China’s economic ability to influence ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to make sure he won,” Bolton writes. . “He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the election outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process decided otherwise.
vanity lounge got the “exact words” from Trump: “According to an unredacted passage shown to vanity lounge by one source, Trump’s request is even more shocking when you read Trump’s specific language. “Make sure I win,” Trump reportedly told Xi over dinner at the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan last summer. “I’m probably going to win anyway, so don’t hurt my farms.…Buy lots of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win.”
According to Dawsey, “At the same meeting, Xi also defended China’s construction of camps housing up to 1 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang – and Trump signaled his approval. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.” Trump also reportedly wouldn’t want to speak or act on Hong Kong for fear it would interfere with a politically advantageous deal with China.
“On the 30th anniversary of China’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, Trump declined to issue a statement to the White House,” according to Bolton. “’That was 15 years ago,’ he said inaccurately. ” Who cares ? I’m trying to make a deal. I do not want anything. And that was it.
Bolton also reports that Trump has interfered in national security investigations of Chinese companies, viewing the investigations or lawsuits as hurting Trump’s chance of striking a deal with China to repair the political damage the US trade war has caused. administration had inflicted on farmers. “In 2018, for example, there [Trump] canceled fines which [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross and the Commerce Department had imposed on ZTE,” Bolton writes. “In 2019, he offered to drop criminal charges against Huawei if it helped the trade deal — which, of course, was primarily aimed at getting Trump re-elected in 2020.”
Trump also pushed back on the original focus of US trade actions against China. In March 2018, to justify tariffs on imports from China, the Trump administration released the findings of the Section 301 Report on Chinese Trade Practices which focused on the Chinese government’s trade practices. intellectual property, technology transfer and related matters. The report cites a presidential memorandum from August 14, 2017 which states: “China has implemented laws, policies and practices and taken measures related to intellectual property, innovation and technology. that may encourage or require the transfer of U.S. technology and intellectual property. to businesses in China or that could otherwise adversely affect U.S. economic interests.
Any interest as a nation the United States had in resolving these issues was contingent on Trump’s efforts to recover politically from the negative impact his tariffs were having on American farmers. Lingling Wei, author with Bob Davis of the new book Superpower Showdown: How the battle between Trump and Xi threatens a new Cold War, said in a recent interview: “The president’s fixation on the trade deficit has actually undermined his trade representative’s efforts to try to get Beijing to act on structural issues such as government subsidies to Chinese companies. Time and again, the Chinese side had suspended more US purchases in exchange for a deal.
“I’m ready to pay tribute to Trump for raising awareness of China’s misguided mercantilist policies, such as the pervasive cronyism used to subsidize politically connected businesses,” said economist Dan Mitchell, president of the Center for Freedom and prosperity. “But the president made a big mistake by opting for tit for tat protectionism when almost every major trading nation in the world would have backed the United States if we had used the World Trade Organization to push China into the good direction.”
If Donald Trump had adopted a policy of free trade and expanding markets, rather than one based on higher tariffs and industrial policy, a foreign government would not have manipulated the United States. Due to a tariff-first, America-first approach, US trade policy has been reduced to Donald Trump and Xi Jinping trying to cut a deal, with no regard for US values or interests.