With the U.S.-China trade war not showing signs of ending anytime soon, President Trump is reportedly ready to pile on as much pressure as he can on China so that Beijing feels the pain and accepts America’s demand for fair trade practices.
In an interview with South China Morning Post, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon remarked how Trump’s import tariffs had taken Beijing by surprise. While earlier, the U.S. imposed tariffs on US$10 billion to US$30 billion worth of Chinese goods, Trump has lately gone head-on against Beijing and has slammed additional tariffs on Chinese products valued at over US$500 billion.
“It’s not just any tariff. It’s tariffs on a scale and depth that is previously inconceivable in U.S. history. They [the Chinese] always want to have a strategic dialogue to tap things along. They never envisioned that somebody would actually do this,” South China Morning Post quotes Bannon.
He also added that the ultimate aim of making China give up its unfair trade policies was to help America revitalize its own industrial sector since having a strong manufacturing sector is one of the main sources of a country’s power.
China meddling in U.S. politics
Meanwhile, Trump’s aggressive policies seemed to have unnerved Beijing to such an extent that it has started meddling in the upcoming midterm elections to make sure that Trump is never back in power.
“Regrettably, we find China has been trying to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election and against my administration. They do not want me, or us, to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade. And we are winning on trade. We are winning on every level. We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our election,” Express quotes Trump.
Recently, a Chinese-backed media company published a propaganda piece in Iowa’s Sunday Des Moines Register newspaper. The insert tried to influence voters from Iowa to vote against Trump in the midterms by saying how he was causing losses to the farmers in the state by engaging in an “unfair” trade war with China.
But contrary to China’s expectations, the propaganda might only end up turning Iowa’s citizens against Beijing. American voters are not as easily swayed, and they tend to get angry when foreign powers try to turn them against their own government.
The trade war also seems to be spilling over onto military actions, with China refusing a U.S. warship entry to Hong Kong. In addition, a high ranking official from the Chinese Navy canceled a meeting with the U.S., sending a clear signal that China is trying to militarily counter the United States.
“It all adds up. It plays into the hands of the conservatives like Xi Jinping in China’s leadership that Trump’s real intent is to contain China’s rise,” Bloomberg quotes Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a teacher of U.S.-China relations at the Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chinese propaganda is reportedly in overdrive, trying to brainwash citizens by putting all blame on Trump and projecting the U.S. as the enemy while remaining silent on the fact that the real reason for the trade war is Beijing’s theft of American intellectual properties and its unfair trade practices. But with U.S. tariffs starting to affect Chinese exporters, it remains to be seen how long Beijing can keep the public in ignorance.