President Trump is the first to stand up to Communist China in almost 50 years. Beginning with President Nixon, who was then under the spell of Henry Kissinger, presidents of both parties have appeased China.
Once known as “Red China” to distinguish the mainland regime from the anti-communist Chinese who fled to Taiwan in 1949, the communist dictators have stolen our intellectual property for decades. This is the same tyrannical China against which millions of people in Hong Kong are protesting now.
Starting with George H.W. Bush, who began his rise to the presidency by acting as Ford’s liaison to China, politicians in both political parties embraced a phony “free trade” with China. Millions of American manufacturing jobs were lost, and China used its growing trade surplus to build a massive arsenal against which we must defend.
China exported a staggering amount of goods to the United States in 2018, totaling $539.5 billion, while allowing only $120.3 billion of American goods to be sold there. That created a record trade deficit of more than $400 billion.
Despite our massive patronage of Chinese companies, in 2018 the communist Chinese government cut back on the small amount of American goods allowed to be sold there. There was a nearly 10% drop in its purchases of American farm products, particularly corn and soybeans.
Like the weather in Mark Twain’s famous quip, everyone complains about China’s abusive trade practices but nobody does anything about them. No one, that is, until Donald J. Trump became president.
Trump adviser Peter Navarro explains that tariffs against China are needed to end its “cyber intrusion into our business networks, forced technology transfer in exchange for market access, intellectual property theft, dumping into our markets state-owned enterprises which are heavily subsidized, currency manipulation and killing Americans with fentanyl.” Fentanyl is a drug imported from China which causes half of all American deaths from overdoses.
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both promised to take action against China’s exploitation of us in trade, but neither did. Both ex-presidents are now enjoying a comfortable retirement, with Obama having just purchased a $15 million beach house on Martha’s Vineyard as merely a summer vacation home.
But American workers have continued to lose ground in the global economy, and China is a big reason why wages have not improved in decades. The average American family is worse off as a result, due to the loss of better-paying middle class jobs.
China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, over the opposition of Phyllis Schlafly and others who defended American sovereignty against that international tribunal. The WTO has repeatedly ruled against the United States, and China has used the WTO to advance its anti-American goals.
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is releasing his new film exposing the treachery of China, called “Claws of the Red Dragon.” It describes how Huawei, the communist-funded technology leader, is poised to dominate world telecommunications for “5G” and “6G,” which are the next-generation internet connectivity services.
The Trump Administration has prohibited federal agencies from doing business with Huawei, which Trump recognizes to be a national security threat to the United States. This Chinese company has so infiltrated the American economy that an additional 90 days had to be allowed to wind down business arrangements with Huawei.
Trump tweeted: “The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP.” When China announced last Friday that it is imposing $75 billion in new tariffs on American goods, Trump responded by tweeting, “This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, complained to Trump that Apple’s exporting of iPhones will be hurt by a so-called tariff war, because Apple’s Korean competitor Samsung will not have to pay the tariffs. But Apple employs relatively few American employees compared with other large corporations, so it is difficult to see why Apple should be dictating our trade policy.
Apple has been making an estimated 50% of its iPhones in China, and earlier it announced moving a portion of this manufacturing to India instead. These are not American jobs that are at stake, but Asian ones.
Indeed, Silicon Valley where Apple is headquartered has enriched a few billionaires but largely failed to hold onto American technology secrets. Now China can manufacture smartphones using technology stolen from the West, probably using some engineers who returned to Asia after working in Silicon Valley on H-1B visas.
Liberals ridiculed Trump for saying he is “the chosen one,” but the American people did choose him to stand up to China. To make America great again requires, at a minimum, ending how China takes advantage of our massive consumer market while stealing our secrets.
John and Andy Schlafly are sons of Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016) and lead the continuing Phyllis Schlafly Eagles organizations with writing and policy work.