As the Dow and S&P plummet, and the threat of a trade war plagues the hearts of citizens on both sides of the battle, President Donald Trump reverts to his phone and attempts to restore hope in the American people by tweeting: “President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do.”
I cannot help but think that this tweet is a little too naive. Ever since the Trump administration threatened China with up to 60 billion dollars worth of tariffs under the Section 301 Action, tensions have been steadily rising on both fronts. Trump argues that these decisions were set in order to place the General Secretary Xi of China back in line — something that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, was unable to accomplish. In my opinion, however, from looking at Trump’s Section 301 plans, the president is not putting forward the truly effective strategies that would pressure China to change its ways. Rather, he is scrambling to fulfill his initial campaign promises just to boost his ever-dropping approval rating. I have proof.
It is no secret that the Donald prides himself on being masculine and authoritative. He has proved this through his various threats and insults, and especially with his stance on foreign countries who have “abused” the loving partnership of the United States. Unfortunately, these seemingly menacing threats do not follow through when it comes to his policies.
For example, on March 23, the Trump administration began to enforce stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. This sounds good for domestic production, but there is a catch. Trump has granted exemptions to Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea. “The New York Times” reported that these “exempted countries account for more than half of the 29 billion dollars in steel sold to the United States in 2017.” This makes me wonder if there really is a point to all of Trump’s actions other than trying to regain the trust of his diminishing supporters, and his tweet about China is the final nail in the coffin. It makes clear that he can only hope that China will end the trade war because he believes it is the “right thing to do.”
China’s idea of “the right thing to do,” however, clearly contradicts whatever Trump is imagining. For instance, the Communist Party plans to rank Chinese citizens based on a “social credit” system by 2020 to reward obedient citizens with higher interest rates and punish citizens who step out of line by restricting their access to transportation and better education. This is the the Chinese administration’s definition of a right thing to do. Does it sound democratic? To me, it sounds more like another “Black Mirror” episode.
On Tuesday, Xi issued an official statement. Although he spoke of lowering tariffs on imported western automobiles, he did not take any solid actions, and many analysts see this as a skillfully positioned diversionary tactic aimed at buying time for China. Sure, Xi recognizes that an all-out trade war would be disastrous for both countries, but this by no means indicates that he will concede to Trump and admit to accusations of alleged unfair trade practices. I think a feasible solution for America at this point is to ally with other superpower nations and put pressure on China, but five bucks says Trump will stick to pumping out tweets on his phone while sipping Diet Coke.
Andy Zeng is a New Lower from Palo Alto, Calif. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.