August 24, 2018

Intensifying U.S.-China strategic competition not transitory

By Patrick M. Cronin

The escalating U.S.-China trade war reflects a hardening strategic competition between two major powers, not merely tense negotiations for short-term political gains.

While few analysts doubted that China would meet American pressure with counter pressure, many analysts questioned whether the Trump administration was serious about leveling the playing field with its largest trading partner.

But on Thursday Washington began imposing a 25 percent tariff on $16 billion of Chinese imports, while threatening to enact duties on an additional $200 billion worth of goods.

China responded in kind, ratcheting up trade tensions that, absent an unexpected diplomatic breakthrough, will inject more uncertainty into the global economy.

Officials in Beijing may have underestimated President Donald Trump.

They hoped that a transactional deal maker in the White House would settle for a token agreement.

However, the president has made clear he is not simply a day trader when it comes to China and is in no rush to compromise.

As long as the trade spat confines itself to tens or even a couple of hundred billions (and not trillions) of dollars, the White House has maneuvering room. Americans see pushback -- if not necessarily more and more tariffs -- as a long, overdue correction to China's exploitation of an open trading system.

China is more likely to blink first.

Ongoing trade talks in Washington are treading water, and they are occurring at all because Chinese President Xi Jinping's concern about a slowing economy and mounting debt is more urgent than Trump's need for a mediocre trade deal.


Read the Full Article at Kyodo News

  • Reports
    • January 20, 2022
    Dealing with a Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan

    Executive Summary Nearly 20 years after U.S. forces overturned Taliban rule in Afghanistan, the fundamentalist Islamist movement is back in power. This follows the U.S. troop ...

    By Lisa Curtis

  • Congressional Testimony
    • January 19, 2022
    The Strategic Importance of a U.S. Digital Trade Agreement in the Indo-Pacific

    Chairman Bera, Ranking Member Chabot, and the other distinguished Subcommittee Members: I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you about digital trade with the Indo-Pacif...

    By David Feith

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • January 14, 2022
    Washington’s Missing China Strategy

    The Biden administration has repeatedly identified China as the United States’ foremost foreign policy challenge. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has referred to China as th...

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Video
    • January 13, 2022
    No Progress Seen After Russia-U.S. Talks Over Ukraine Tensions

    The United States and Russia locked horns over Ukraine and other security issues Monday with no sign of progress from either side at highly anticipated strategic talks. Andre...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia