Americans are just now starting to pay attention to the China tariff dilemma. That’s a good thing. The American voter needs to call both political parties to account for the state of our economy, and our economic and trade policies. Democrats view the China battle as a politically advantageous event that they can use to their electoral advantage in 2020. If the American people have become the twitter/sound bite/MTV/talking point nation, they may well prove to be right.
But I think they are wrong. Since the beginnings of China’s transformation from a third world, backwards country into a global economic powerhouse, they have repeatedly and intentionally lied, cheated, and stolen their way into unfair trade advantages with all the other nations of the world. Using their unreliable legal system (if you can really call it that), totalitarian government, and China first policy, they have bullied other countries and foreign companies, demanded technology transfers, Chinese JV partners, and entrance into the World Trade Organization (their entry into looking less and less wise as years go by). As China grows more and more affluent, and more and more powerful, it becomes even more of a bully on the world stage, dangling anemic access to their markets in return for both legitimized and illegal technology transfer and theft, and an unbalanced trade and economic interaction with other sovereign nations.
Enough. While I am a lifelong and lifetime free trader, and always will be, it’s time the Chinese are called to account – with severe penalties the result outside of legally enforceable changed behavior and a fair playing field for trade. China isn’t going to get any smaller or less emboldened in the years to come. Yes, they do have significant demographic challenges in the decades to come (courtesy of the evil one child policy they maintained for years), the threat of unrest due to political oppression and a lack of freedom in their totalitarian state, and excessive debt threatening their economic growth and prosperity, but the time is now to strike.
The Chinese send almost $600 billion of goods to the US every year, more than triple what we send to them. No matter what you may read in the media, tariffs damage China far more than they damage the United States. We have to provide them a face saving way to agree to a great deal for America, but we should be patient and tough in doing so. I believe Americans have both the patience and resolve to give our government the time to achieve this result, and that the twitter generation won’t move on to other issues, give up, or agree to a mediocre resolution. Time will tell.