USA-CHINA ‘TARRIF WAR’: A WAR AS ANY OTHER - 2018/2019 | publicatii - Politica La Est


First part

The preliminaries of this war between – at least for the most experts in   hierarchies of power within the international system of today – the first two great powers of the world ( or better superpowers ) are at the beginning of 2018.  Since March a salvo of tweets of President Trump reminded, in a way or another,  the fact that USA is pushed to take some measures in order not to be continuously exploited by its partners of trade and to build a new balance in  that regard . Because many of these tweets are registered in the first 10 days of March , we can speculate either that President Trump has considered that time is playing against him economically  and he has to act, or that applying pressure against porimarily on China is beneficial for solving another crisis ( at the time the showdown engaged by President Trump with North Korea , a close ally and on whom Beijing is exercising a tutelage ):
Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!
2:12 PM · Mar 1, 2018 “ [1]

When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!
12:50 PM · Mar 2, 2018 “ .[2]

When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!
3:57 PM · Mar 2, 2018· [3]

The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our “very stupid” trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!
7:43 PM · Mar 3, 2018[4]
After exposing such a landscape of USA being chided in its trade relation internationally, very soon  President Trump  had nominated his own first  target. If, in previous tweets he mentioned generally that USA has been the object of trade exploitation pursued by many countries, including close allies, as Canada and European Union, he named the state who damaged primarily the American  balance of trade : 
China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States. Our relationship with China has been a very good one, and we look forward to seeing what ideas they come back with. We must act soon!
5:10 PM · Mar 7, 2018”.[5]
President Trump had become more explicit the following days exposing the - using some data which is a proof that there are statistical studies in this field previously officially  undertaken  in  order to reach a decision – the state of US economy, and more than that revealing that there are also other targets taken into account:
 From Bush 1 to present, our Country has lost more than 55,000 factories, 6,000,000 manufacturing jobs and accumulated Trade Deficits of more than 12 Trillion Dollars. Last year we had a Trade Deficit of almost 800 Billion Dollars. Bad policies & leadership. Must win again! #MAGA
1:24 PM · Mar 7, 2018”.[6]
The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the U.S. very badly on trade, are complaining about the tariffs on Steel & Aluminum. If they drop their horrific barriers & tariffs on U.S. products going in, we will likewise drop ours. Big Deficit. If not, we Tax Cars etc. FAIR!
11:29 PM · Mar 10, 2018” . [7]
So, according to President Trump- and possible also of many segments of the US economic  and financial circles- not only China, but also European Union and other countries are exploiting by trade USA . At the same time, the way in which he is mixing up the threats of retaliation in terms of tariff is destined to keep awake the targets  not letting anyone to consider that it is out of the US scrutiny and  reaction: 
We cannot keep a blind eye to the rampant unfair trade practices against our Country!
4:37 PM · Mar 14, 2018 “ . [8]
What should be a special characteristic of the language adopted  by President Trump is the use of the word “ war” concerning that facts,  as it is done on April 4, 2018 in a new tweet:
We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!
2:22 PM · Apr 4, 2018 “ . [9]
It is strange that President Trump had used a military language to define these political actions, but , of course, he obtained what he was seeking, namely to persuade his fellow countrymen that really  USA has been exploited. His twitter account is red  by  hundred of thousands of followers and many of them retweeted it or liked what President said.  At the same time , President explain what is in his perception an unfair treatment for USA in the  international trade relations:
China, which is a great economic power, is considered a Developing Nation within the World Trade Organization. They therefore get tremendous perks and advantages, especially over the U.S. Does anybody think this is fair. We were badly represented. The WTO is unfair to U.S.
5:32 PM · Apr 6, 2018. “ [10]
It was clear from the preliminaries of the war that the main target of the war which Trump in envisaged is China. In April 7, 2018, in a tweet he explained that USA didn’t have a surplus in the trade balance with China for 40 years,  that in such a way America is losing 500 billions of dollars every year , and that “ Cannot continue!”.[11] Concomitantly, President Trump has applied to President Xi of China  to remain friends , that taxes will remain reciprocal  and together could be built a “great future for both countries” .[12] It was  a kind of invitation to negotiations but only after USA will act according to already established lines of decided “war” . On April 9, 2019 Trump has explained plainly his position:
“ @realDonaldTrump
When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%. When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE - going on for years!1:03 PM · Apr 9, 2018 “.  [13]
And next day, he was very kind to President Xi for his large capacity of understanding of the American position, in such a way continuing its own ‘ charm offensive’ against Beijing :
Very thankful for President Xi of China’s kind words on tariffs and automobile barriers...also, his enlightenment on intellectual property and technology transfers. We will make great progress together! 9:30 PM · Apr 10, 2018” .[14]
Of course, reconstituting the beginnings of the “ tariff war “ between USA and China, we have tried to use what , for the first time in history has been possible to use in the process, namely to know what one belligerent think an how he understand to act against his opponent  in real time. This is possible in that case- as in other cases of crisis in which USA administration led by President Trump is involved – because White House applied now a real innovation: to use twitter for letting know how a certain   policy is conceived and implemented.
Since that  gradual outbreak in March –April 2018, the “tariff war” between USA and China has developed , registering a sinusoid  of negotiations round followed by another outburst of “ hot war” .  The following table is reconstituting this sinusoid:
The evolution of the American –Chinese tariff war,  a genuine  war as any war in history, but without defined frontlines where are deployed armies to knock each other , the target to hit  being the economy of the adversary/ enemy. Inflicting a massive ( eventually unbearable )  damage to the enemy means in this kind of war- is the strategy pursued by the combatants, where the captain of industries and financial world  are the professional soldiers.  Of course, this war is without the complement of the traditional hot war , except  geopolitical harassment using military tools  as in the South China Sea or undermining of the ‘ home front’ as China said about what is going on now in Hong Kong  . In this regard should be mentioned the fact that the retreat of USA form the INF treaty is already recognized by the qualified experts  and also even US Defense Secretary Mark Esper )  as targeting mainly China. Esper stated on August 21st :
We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to deter Chinese bad behavior … China is the number one priority for this department. It’s outlined in the national defense strategy, why we think it’s a long term strategic competitor and one that is pursuing a maximization campaign, if you will, throughout the indo-Pacific theater, whether it’s politically, economically or militarily …” .[15] 
That kind of war, the first in history at that scale,  has been in the last 18 months  extremely contradictory , punctuated by the damaging economic blows of each of the combatants , but also of period of cooperation in other fields ( even economic ones ) or negotiations to stop the escalation . About the last periods of discussion between delegations of both parts it is safe to presume that each part are using these periods for planning future hostilities . What should be underlined is that the Chinese had responded to any  move  of the American opponent, who has the initiative,   namely to inflict an equal damage to their economy.  It is not outside the realm of rationality  to say that in such a way the danger of mistakes and wrong reading the opponent’s intentions is increasing dramatically, alongside the specter of the hot ( military ) war. Mark Esper, quoted above  said also  that there is “a coming shift” from “low intensity conflict that lasts 18 years to high intensity conflicts against competitors such as Russia and China.” [16]
 See the following timetable of this new kind of war at the level of the “ two giants “ of the international system to observe the periods of ‘ armistice’ ( negotiations) and ‘ full trade war’ : 
Where we are now  as a direct  consequence  of that that war ? What the hostilities between USA and China in terms of trade  within the   international system  brought to the world and also to themselves ? Halting production (Pic: China Daily)

According to many experts, and also seeing the reactions of the world leaders- as it is the case of French President E.  Macron , who  said , during the G-7 reunion at Biarritz , that the US- Chinese  trade war is disturbing the world economy- , we can conclude that the confrontation between the giants of the system is damaging not only economically but also from the  security point of view the international realities  of today .
September 8, 2019
[8]; on March 15, 2018, President Trump tweeted , concerning the trade relations with Canada: “ We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive). P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do...they almost all do...and that’s how I know!3:29 PM • Mar 15, 2018”-
[12]  “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. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries! 3:12 PM • Apr 8, 2018”-
[15] it was reprinted the analysis of Matthew Ehret with the title : America Loses Asia-Pacific as Full Spectrum Dominance Continues to Fail, published on September 2, 2019 in ‘The Strategic Culture Foundation’ -
[16] Ibidem


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