Trump Said to Play ‘China-Bashing Card' on Trade

International Trade Daily™ provides rapid, reliable notification of the most significant developments affecting U.S. trade and international business policy, as well as the policies of major U.S....

By Len Bracken

Aug. 9 — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is using China as a scapegoat while proposing “poisonous” protectionist trade policies, China's state news service Xinhua said Aug. 9.

The state news agency said Trump is playing the “China-bashing card” while proposing to hinder China's exports to the U.S. market as a way to boost U.S. economic growth.

This is an “easy” card for U.S. politicians to play, the agency said, to cover up what it said are “fundamental structural drawbacks.” Neither Republicans nor Democrats would be willing to propose policies that would fix these problems, it said.

“By scapegoating China and global free trade for lackluster economic performance, Trump and his team betrayed the Republicans' traditional endorsement of unrestricted trade,” writer Zhu Dongyang said. “In a freakish coincidence, Trump shared a similar view with his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton that Washington shall pursue myopic and poisonous protectionism and ‘stand up to China' to make up for lost ground.”

Trump Aug. 8 accused Beijing of breaking trade rules and said enforcement of trade rules with regard to China would be a centerpiece of his trade policy. Clinton is scheduled to outline her economic policies at an Aug. 11 event in Michigan (153 ITD, 8/9/16).

‘Merely Tough Talk'?

A Clinton adviser on trade issues told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 2 that her opposition to the rules of origin for autos and auto parts in the pending 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) does concern China. The TPP annex on autos provides for steel from non-TPP countries, such as China, to be pressed into shape in TPP countries and then be “deemed” as being of TPP origination and thus qualifying for TPP tariff benefits, the source said.

In addition, China has come under fire from the U.S. and other nations for exporting a glut of steel products, driving down prices worldwide and taking a toll on local industries. Beijing has said it has taken 150 million metric tons of production offline and reduced exports, but U.S. analysts said market conditions haven't changed and trace the continued glut to Chinese excess capacity (130 ITD, 7/7/16).

The Xinhua article said U.S. presidents often denounce China during the election race but then pursue more positive relations with China once they take office.

“That was true with former Republican President George W. Bush, and Hillary's once anti-trade husband Bill Clinton, who nevertheless gave China most-favored-nation treatment, which in part contributed to the U.S. economic boom of the 1990s,” the article said. “Hopefully, the threat of launching a trade war with China by the current presidential candidates is merely tough talk.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Len Bracken in Washington at lbracken@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

For More Information

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.