How Trump is slowly delivering global economic power to China
The imposition of new tariffs on products imported from China to the United States is the latest move of the Trump administration against the Asian country. But many believe that presidential impulsiveness could be delivering the global economic power to China — on a silver platter.
In politics - as in almost everything in life - the best strategist is the one who wins. The U.S. government, for its part, believes that the one who barks loudest has the advantage, even if it’s through intimidation.
Much of President Donald Trump's political measures have been based on the principle of "act first and resolve later," leaving advisors and diplomats trying to remedy the collateral effects of the White House's impulsiveness.
A migration ban, the suspension of the DACA program, the separation of families and, now, the measures of economic retaliation against international allies are just a few examples of government decisions taken without having a replacement plan in place.
Since Trump decided to burn bridges with the international diplomatic community - withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement and the Nuclear Agreement with Iran - his decision to implement steel and aluminum tariffs against the European countries, Canada and Mexico have been followed by the imposition of tariffs against Chinese solar panels and washing machines, announced during the month of January.
Similarly, the government imposed a 10 percent tariff on aluminum and 25 percent on steel against the Asian country, forcing it to counterattack with the imposition of tariffs on the few U.S. imports that the country owns.
The Trump campaign has ensured that the United States has been "unfairly exploited" by the rest of the world when it comes to trade, ensuring that "China has no intention of changing its unfair practices with respect to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology," the president said in a statement. "Instead of altering these practices, it now threatens U.S. companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong," the New York Times reported.
The president referred to the Beijing government's announcement to impose tariffs of up to $50 billion on U.S. goods such as meat, poultry, tobacco, and automobiles. However, China exports many more products to the United States than vice versa, which would put Beijing at a "disadvantage" when it comes to maintaining a high trade war.
Unless, of course, Trump's international policies are what gives the advantage to the Asian giant.
Given the isolation from the rest of its allies - not including Russia, of course - the Trump administration could actually grant power to China in the long run, especially in matters of economic sovereignty.
"Taking a stand against China's abusive behaviors is not necessarily wrong," wrote Eduardo Porter in March for the New York Times. "The problem with the president's game plan is that it is inconsistent with all the other diplomatic initiatives he has taken so far. The tangle of stabs and swipes at allies and rivals alike, in the service of ill-conceived goals like closing a trade deficit, serves China more than it does the United States."
In addition, the concern of international organizations such as the International Bank and the International Monetary Fund indicates that U.S. isolationism, which doesn’t have a plan B, could seriously affect the international economy, unless, on a contested basis, China turns out to be the perfect substitute for a United States that is kicked off the negotiating table.
For Scott Morris, an international trade specialist during the Obama administration, "the stark departure here is a message from this White House that says you should stop lending to a wide swathe of countries and really start to wind things down," he told CNBC. "I think it's just not where the rest of the world is and, as a result, the United States is increasingly isolated."
Meanwhile, China opens new roads.
Through the so-called "New Silk Road," better known as the Belt and Road initiative, China has launched a multimillion-dollar project in new infrastructure that connects it with the rest of the world and encourages new commercial and transport agreements.
According to the New Yorker, the new road will include routes "from China to Scandinavia, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Middle East," which would make it virtually impossible to stop Beijing’s economic hegemony in just a few years.
Also, while Trump insists on expelling and mistreating Latin Americans, China has become "the number one trading partner for a growing number of countries" in the Latin American region, explained the China Economic Review.
In 2016 alone, China became a fundamental ally for countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador, whose main export products are "integrated circuits, copper ore, vehicle parts, medical instruments and automobiles," according to the report.
While China is still behind the United States in trade agreements with much of the world, how long will it take for Trump to change this and deliver the rest of the commercial scenario on a silver platter?