Trump's trade policy toward China appears to backfire: expert

The tough trade policy that the Donald Trump administration has adopted against China appears to be having the opposite effect, said an expert, as it has pushed up the prices of daily commodities.

Since Trump unilaterally imposed punitive import taxes on Chinese goods in April, the trade friction between the two countries has taken a toll on American shopping malls like Wal-Mart, where most merchandises sold are imported from China, said William Jones, the chief of the Washington Bureau of the Executive Intelligence Review, a weekly news magazine founded in 1974.

The tariffs could bring more opportunities to American manufacturers, but they have sent the prices of daily commodities surging, which would badly damage the interests of the working-class families, said Jones.

Jones described Trump's idea of using tariffs to force China to make concessions as a "wrong" policy, saying that it would not go in the direction the US president wants and instead actually angers China, which has in turn retaliated in a tit-for-tat tariff war with the United States.

The tougher Trump becomes, the more retaliatory actions China will take, said Jones.

On Wednesday, China's Ministry of Commerce said that it will slap a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion worth of American goods, which include vehicles, fuels and fiber optical cables.

China's announcement came a day after the Office of the United States Trade Representative unveiled a list of $16 billion worth of Chinese goods which will be hit with a 25 percent tariff.

However, last weekend, Trump even showed a strong confidence in his trade policy toward China on his Twitter account, saying that China is "for the first time doing poorly" against the United States and that the tariffs "are really hurting their economy". "Likewise other countries. We are winning, but must be strong!"

In Jones' opinion, the slow economic growth of the United States over the past decades is not a result of Chinese imports but because of its own policies, which have failed to provide enough support to the American industries. The United States should readjust its policies to revive its industries, said Jones.

Although the United States recently posted good economic growth figures, it does not mean that the tariff measures played a role in it, said Jones. Every policy needs time to show its effect, said Jones.

Jones suggested that the United States and China need to immediately set up communication channels for the resolution of their trade problems, whether at the official level or the expert level.

Facing the tough American trade policy, China is seeking ways to keep its economy growing including making infrastructure investment globally under its Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, the United States has teamed up with its allies Australia and Japan to create a scheme for investing in infrastructure projects in the Asia Pacific region as an alternative to the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative.

Jones said that the trilateral scheme might bring an opportunity for China and the United States to collaborate on infrastructure investment.

No impact on overall US-China relationship

Jones does not think that the current trade war will impact the overall US-China relationship, saying that Trump's original intention was to let the United States gain an upper hand in trade with China rather than arousing anti-China sentiment among the American public.

Trump does not want to contain China, even though some cabinet members want it, said Jones.

It can be seen in the warming ties between the two countries' militaries. In June, US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited China, the first by a US defense secretary in four years. Mattis has stressed that the two countries should seek a diplomatic way to solve the problems of the South China Sea.

Jones said that Mattis' thinking reflects the mainstream thinking in the Trump government.

Jones sees the November mid-term election as a key turning point when American people might realize the negative effects of the trade war, thus leading to public resentment against the Republican Party.

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