In recent months, China and the US have found themselves digging a ditch for one another in a trade war that follows a periodic, pacific lull of little conflict. For the past few weeks, economic tensions have been characterized by brinkmanship, with these two global superpowers; both nations are facing off in a battle of “chicken,” waiting in apprehension for the other to back down first. Although this recent sequence of events is not anything necessarily new, they do mark a significant moment in the development of US-China relations during the second year of President Trump’s administration.
The question one must be asking is the reason such conflict has been reborn in the status quo. It all started back when President Trump, in the name of national security, proposed a tariff solely on China’s aluminium and steel, trade restrictions it would “spare” a number of allies from, including Canada, Mexico, the European Union and South Korea. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, these exemptions “seriously violate” World Trade Organization rules that prohibit discriminatory practices when imposing trade restrictions. While this unlawful manipulation of China’s economy for personal good does constitute a violation of such guidelines, China has been meaning to find an opportunity to strike at the US, and under this guise, it wanted to and has. The government announced $3 billion worth of US imports would go into effect, affecting 128 products ranging from pork, meat and fruit to steel pipes.
The most dangerous part of these tensions is the unfortunate fact that anything can happen: in a matter of hours, an unpredictable series of mutual destruction could occur, crippling the global economy and causing irreconcilable differences between the two powerhouses. During the 23 hours of April 16, the United States dealt a financial blow to a Chinese technology conglomerate, Beijing hit back at one of America’s major export crops, and President Trump culminated the eventful day with an infuriated tweet.
In an opinion article by a Chinese news agency, Xinhua, it cautioned that Trump’s plans to impose constant tariffs on China are a violation of its national dignity and integrity, and they are a “self-defeating gamble” that will only detriment the American economy.
“Trump’s planned tariffs are not only going to hamper the United States’ economic well-being and continued progress, and burden its people with higher costs of living, but also pose a grave threat to the current global trading system,” the article said.
Frankly, the news organization is right—more than correct. Given the immense impact trade restrictions could have on both nations, the citizens may face several, sudden price deductions or spikes for no reason except petty scuffles between adamant national leaders. For this sake, the cost of significant lifestyle changes cannot be sacrificed simply for the betterment of one’s ego. Due to the gravity of such escalation on sorghum—a grain used for cattle and liquor—and China’s ZTE, not to mention the effects this unnecessary conflict has had on the people of each nation, the two countries ought to seek a mutual consensus that continued tensions will only climax with a mutually assured financial debacle.