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Feature 04.15.2022 4 minutes

Bring Back the Tariffs

concept photo for China-USA trade war conflict

Trump’s China policy was working wonders until Fauci and Wuhan derailed it.

The one thing I agree with David Goldman on is this: “We’ve got the economic equivalent of a war going on” with Communist China. That means any approach to reducing our trade deficit with China must start where the Trump Administration did, with a crackdown on what I have called China’s “Seven Deadly Sins”: cyber hacking, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, currency manipulation, illegal export subsidies, predatory state-owned enterprises, and the killing of Americans with deadly fentanyl.

China must pay a stiff compensatory and punitive price for these sins, which eat away through subterfuge what we work to honestly build. Innovating in this perverse sense for China’s benefit instead of our own doesn’t dig us out of our problem but digs us deeper. Alone, no amount of U.S. innovation is going to be able to offset China’s economic war against us.

The Trump Administration, in which I served as Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, was the first administration to fight back against China since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Trade deficit data from more than a year into the Biden administration is hardly an indictment of the Trump tariffs. The Trump tariffs were successful in fighting back against China’s economic aggression to a point—China used currency manipulation (yet more economic aggression against us) to ease much of their pain.

We were prepared in a second term to slap more and higher tariffs on China. Just as importantly, we were ready to cut off China’s access to our capital markets, including our pension funds. This latter step would have been as highly effective as tariffs. Now, instead of tough Trump actions, we are getting Biden appeasement. Elections have consequences.

Goldman nonetheless insists that “nothing short of an intervention by the federal government, namely an industrial policy, will turn [China’s advantage] around.” But we can hardly hand this problem to Joe Biden, AOC, Pete Buttigieg and the rest of the Woke zombies in a regime without a single capable economist. Pie-in-the-sky industrial policy advanced by this crew will lead to disaster. Until they go, it’s the federal government that needs the intervention.

If I had a dime for every time a globalist knucklehead insisted that the best way to beat Communist, mercantilist, predatory China is to “innovate” and teach our kids better, I wouldn’t need a 401K to retire. The current crisis demands more than the starry-eyed op-eds from the likes of Tom Friedman that got us into this mess.

Before the pandemic hit, Trump’s tough trade policies and strategic energy dominance had led to the strongest economy in modern history. It was a Communist Chinese bioweapons lab in Wuhan, funded by Tony Fauci, that knocked it all adrift—not the Trump tariffs.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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