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China Should Pay a Price for Lying, Cheating, and Stealing

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Yao Dawei/Xinhua via AP

Few foreign adversaries are as consistently evil as China. On the world stage, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has quite literally gotten away with murder. The American people are fully aware of this, which is why they have recently shown support for politicians who have taken a hard line on China. One of those politicians has been Donald Trump. 


Before he became president, Trump was notorious for attacking China in his speeches and in his tweets. “China is neither an ally or a friend… they want to beat us and own our country,” he declared in 2011. “No surprise that China was caught cheating in the Olympics. That’s the Chinese M.O. - Lie, Cheat & Steal in all international dealings,” he tweeted in 2012.

And Trump followed through on his rhetoric during his first term by sticking it to the CCP with tariffs, while taking additional measures to combat the serious threat posed by the communist nation to our economic and national security. The next president, whoever it may be, should look to build on the important work done in those four years to hold China accountable.

Simply put, China has made it its mission to eclipse the United States as a global superpower – and, as Trump has said, it has demonstrated a willingness to lie, cheat, and steal to accomplish that goal. The previous diplomatic framework of normalized relations and unfettered free trade doesn’t work when the CCP so brazenly refuses to play by the rules. There can be no “normal” when we’re dealing with this type of bad faith adversary.

Perhaps the most egregious example of China’s cheating has come with global efforts to strengthen environmental standards and reduce pollution. While the United States has strictly followed agreed-upon standards, which are often, if not always, at the expense of our own economy, China has laughed its way to the bank by weakening its own environmental regulations, falsifying data, and all-but-encouraging Chinese industries to pollute to their hearts’ content. Meanwhile, American manufacturers and workers have been forced to choke down the consequences.


The only way to stop all of this is for America to get tough and let the world know we will no longer allow China to cheat and enrich communist sycophants at the expense of our own national interests. 

At a recent hearing, President Trump’s former trade representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, endorsed an initiativethat would finally hold China accountable for lying and cheating on environmental standards that help it unfairly produce cheap goods while continuing to pollute the air, land and water. Lighthizer explained that he wanted “to see people come together and have some kind of a carbon border adjustment, … there’s a lot of things you can do with allies that I think is helpful.”

A vital part of this plan is that it would allow the United States to undercut unscrupulous actors like China on the international stage and put our manufacturers in a better position to compete. With this policy, Chinese imports to our country would be subject to a pollution fee, forcing the CCP to pay a fair price to sell their products here in America – a price that levels the playing field versus cleaner American manufacturers.

Countries like those in Europe that are enacting similar plans would be exempted from the tariffs. With the U.S. and Europe aligned, China and other nefarious actors would have no recourse but to clean up their act. Otherwise, they would risk not being able to do business with more than half the global economy.

The plan would also prove beneficial to working class Americans — a win for American manufacturing, a win for American consumers, and a big fat L for the CCP.


President Trump proved it during his first term – the most effective way to deal with China is through a show of strength. A foreign pollution fee would not only serve as an insurance policy to protect our own national security and economic interests, but it would increase China’s manufacturing costs and finally make them pay for polluting our planet.

America has the opportunity to pioneer this idea. Now, we need more leaders courageous enough to step forward with bold plans to make China pay for exploiting the environment and cheating the rest of the world.

Jon Schweppe is the policy director at American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.


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