trade war or American game
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Donald Trump has revealed a national security strategy with a heavy emphasis on what his administration portrays as an existential economic competition with China.
In a launch speech on Monday the US president made clear he had only one outcome in mind. “We are declaring that America is in the game and America is going to win,” he said.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday: “We urge the United States to stop the strategic intention of deliberately distorting China and abandon the outdated concepts of Cold War thinking and zero-sum game, or else it will only harm itself.”
The new strategy looks like the recipe for a potentially damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies, rather than a game. Yet also in there are messages meant to assuage concerns of those who fear Mr Trump is out to blow up the international order.
Here come the tariffs . . .
For most of the past year the Trump administration has been promising more tough action on trade than it has been able to deliver as the president’s campaign promises have quickly confronted real world complexities and consequences.
But that may be about to change. One of the key promises the new document makes is to deliver tougher enforcement of trade violations by economic rivals such as China, which amounts to code for applying punitive tariffs.
In the pipeline and facing deadlines in the coming weeks are a half dozen different ways in which the Trump administration could apply new tariffs on goods from China and other rivals.
Trade experts in Washington believe the conclusion of an investigation into China’s intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer policies is near.
Facing deadlines in January are two separate national security investigations into imports of aluminium and steel that are expected to result in a mix of new tariffs and quotas.
Also looming are presidential decisions on special “safeguard” investigations into imports of solar cells from China and washing machines made by South Korea’s LG and Samsung. A separate probe of imports of aluminium sheeting from China is under way and seems destined to lead to tariffs with the US commerce department having taken the rare step of bringing the complaint — making it plaintiff, prosecutor and judge all in one.
Brace yourself for more scrutiny of Chinese investment and the new IP wars
The new document places a large emphasis on the importance of US intellectual property and introduces the idea of a “national security innovation base” comprised of everything from academia to tech companies.