Op-Ed: Trump Is Playing a Long Game With China

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Politics on August 24, 2019.

America has the upper hand in the ongoing trade negotiations with China, and the temporary reprieve that President Trump recently gave the Chinese regime is only further proof that our strong economy grants us a degree of flexibility that Beijing can’t hope to match.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the president’s announcement that he is postponing certain tariff increases on China.

It’s true that this temporary delay addresses the one area where short-term access to cheap consumer goods has the potential to noticeably impact U.S. consumers: Christmas gifts. Overall, consumer goods are not rapidly inflating in price, and the postponement will ensure that nothing of the sort takes place during the busiest shopping season of the year.

But, the relentless pressure that President Trump’s strategic counter-tariffs have put on China and its export-dependent economy is not stopping. Trump did not eliminate the tariffs. He partially delayed 10% tariffs on the half of Chinese imports yet to see increased levies. Some will still be implemented as planned on Sept. 1, with the rest going into effect Dec. 15 — unless, of course, Beijing meaningfully demonstrates its desire to reach an equitable trade deal before then.

China seems to be playing hardball, trying to wait out the Trump administration in the hopes that a new administration will return to complacency toward China’s rampant trade abuses. But that’s a long time to endure the pain that Trump’s tariffs are already inflicting on the Chinese economy.

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