Trump Confronts China as Biden Scoffs

Trump Confronts China as Biden Scoffs
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Trump Confronts China as Biden Scoffs
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
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In Donald Trump’s inaugural address, he bluntly surveyed the reality facing America’s working classes who lived amid the “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.”  He decried the policies that “enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry.”  Though his speech was dismissed by elites as too “dark,” his target audience was not listening from New York news studios or corporate boardrooms, but rather from union halls, church basements, and barber shops where blue-collar Americans understood precisely why they elected him.  They sent this rookie political renegade to smash the corrupt system that protected the perquisites of the connected cronies of our capital.

The massive transfer of prosperity away from working-class citizens revolves around China’s emergence as an existential threat to the economic and national security of the United States.  Unlike past threats, this one finds willing accomplices within America, because U.S. big business and political elites profit handsomely from the very imbalances that diminish our industrial prowess and endanger our long-term prominence as the world’s sole superpower.

President Trump’s bold weekend decision to accelerate tariffs vs. China deploys critical strategic leverage intended to force Beijing to, at last, negotiate in good faith. America must finally demand symmetry in our economic relationship with China, including the principles of trade reciprocity, respect for intellectual property, and the cessation of aggressive intrusions against American interests.  Those intrusions include physical military operations, such as in the South China Sea, as well as cyberattacks targeting both public and private American assets.  Until China agrees to a new verifiable framework to ameliorate these economic and security offenses, trade penalties must only increase. 

Trade tensions do carry risks for both countries, undoubtedly, but the greater hazard lies in perpetuating the present abuses. After all, since the mistaken Clinton/Bush decision to integrate China fully into the World Trade Organization, China’s trade manipulation has led to the incredible loss of 3.4 million U.S. jobs in this century, according to the union-backed 2018 study of the Economic Policy Institute.  Many China apologists ascribe manufacturing jobs losses here wholly to automation. But former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Katharine Abraham published a report with University of Maryland colleagues determining that China compelled about twice as many workers to leave the U.S. workforce as did automation. 

Moreover, the time to confront China is now, while the U.S. still maintains the clear upper hand in negotiations. The Chinese model of repression at home concurrent with mercantilism abroad necessitates rapid growth, as economic expansion forms the grand bribe by which the Xi regime buys off the professional classes.  And largely because of the disastrous one-child policy, the Chinese consumer market alone cannot possibly power the growth the Communist Party there seeks. So, in this game of global trade poker, America’s hand looks a lot like a straight flush.  In President Trump, we at last have a leader willing to press that advantage and demand reform.    

On the appeasement side of the political spectrum, former Vice President Joe Biden perfectly summed up the total unwillingness of the political class to even recognize the existential threat China presents.  On the campaign trail last week, the Democratic front-runner stated: “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man -- China isn’t in competition with us. …They’re not bad folks, folks. Guess what -- they’re not competition for us."  Sleepy Joe Biden apparently needs political smelling salts to awaken to the reality of how dangerously China manipulates America. 

But perhaps that willful ignorance emanates from self-interest, as his own son Hunter Biden once accompanied him on Air Force Two as part of a vice-presidential delegation to China.  Ten days after that visit, Hunter Biden’s firm inked a $1 billion joint investment deal with the state-owned Bank of China. Amazingly, one of the technologies that Hunter Biden has invested in alongside China is an app known as Face++, which facilitates Chinese government spying on millions of its own heavily oppressed Uighur citizens. In fact, the Chinese have imprisoned many of these Muslim minorities in concentration camps, directly contradicting Papa Joe’s assurance that the Chinese Communists are “not bad folks, folks.”

For far too long, the Joe Bidens, the CEOs, and the lobbyists have tolerated – and even assisted -- a China that shuts off its markets to U.S. products while simultaneously penetrating our markets through Beijing’s state-owned-enterprises.  These sham operations compete unfairly using stolen designs, forced technology transfers, and serially abused laborers.  But on a level playing field, with reciprocal and honest business practices, Chinese firms would whither in direct competition with American workers and American innovation.

Thankfully, our first entrepreneur-in-chief stands athwart the conventional wisdom of big business and big government and demands a new relationship between China and America.  Confronting the Chinese Communist Party represents the single greatest legacy issue of the whole 2016 movement -- the struggle for sovereignty, economic nationalism, and the diffusion of power. In standing firm for America vs. the Chinese regime, President Trump will fulfill his inaugural promise that “this American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Steve Cortes is a contributor to RealClearPolitics and a CNN  political commentator. His Twitter handle is @CortesSteve.

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