BEIJING.–The United States appears to be increasingly isolated and bereft of global allies thanks to the cavalier attitude of President Donald Trump, and his “Make America Great Again” policy.
The tycoon-turned-President’s attacks have not only been launched against the by now “historical enemies” of the U.S. – to put it one way – like Cuba and Venezuela, but he has lashed out without distinction against Canada, Germany, and France.
Some of the most talked-about episodes during the year and a half of his administration in Washington have been Trump’s statements about the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico (and that country bearing the cost), the alleged – never proven – “sonic attacks” suffered by U.S. diplomatic personnel on Cuban soil; and more recently, the withdrawal of his support for the joint communiqué of the G-7 Summit, held in Canada, with comments addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he described as “dishonest and weak.”
The list of U.S. “targets” also features China, a country on which it imposed a series of tariffs, despite the fact that a short time ago the two countries held a series of negotiations at the highest level in an effort to minimize their “big differences” regarding economic matters.
During the aforementioned talks, the Asian giant’s news agency Xinhua reported that “The two sides agreed that a sound and stable China-U.S. trade relationship is crucial for both, and they are committed to resolving relevant economic and trade issues through dialogue and consultation.”
But Washington continues to demonstrate that dialogue is not its cornerstone, and under the pretext of “intellectual property theft” announced it was imposing 25% tariffs on a list of Chinese goods worth approximately 50 billion dollars, which went into effect this July 6.
Trump stated: “The United States can no longer tolerate losing our technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices.”
The announcement was accompanied by a warning: if the East Asian nation imposed trade restrictions, more tariffs would be imposed.
However, this is nothing more than a frontal attack on China, which through a statement from its Foreign Ministry noted that the U.S. had damaged bilateral interests, made abrupt changes, and unleashed a “trade war.”
“China doesn’t want a trade war. However, confronted by such a short-sighted act that hurts both the U.S. itself and others, China has no choice but to fight back forcefully, to firmly safeguard the interests of the nation and its people,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang stated.
In response, the government of Xi Jinping announced it was imposing tariffs on 659 U.S. goods, whose value amounts to 50 billion dollars.
Tariffs on 545 U.S. products, worth around 34 billion dollars, took effect from July 6, while the effective date of the remaining tariffs is yet to be announced.
Speaking to Latin American reporters on the issue, Zhao Kun, division director of the Department of National Economy of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), noted that while her country doesn’t want to wage such a battle, “We are not afraid of it, faced with any decision there will be a counterattack to match.”
Zhao stressed that China advocates trade globalization, and that protectionism is a double-edged sword that in the end will also end up harming U.S. interests.
The NDRC official noted that China will be temporarily affected by the move, but in the long term the national economy will be able to support itself thanks to internal consumption, an engine for development. “We have great confidence in the development of our country and we are optimistic,” she concluded.
The Asian giant launched its “Made in China 2025” plan a few years ago, which aims to turn the nation into a technological leader on a global scale, competing with powers such as the U.S., Germany, and Japan.
Among the achievements so far are the first Chinese-made passenger jet (the C919), and its first high-speed bullet train.
This is one of the most significant reasons why the Trump government decided to impose tariffs on the robotics, aerospace, and automotive industries. On the other hand, goods such as cell phones and televisions were not affected, at least for now.