Renewed telephone conversations between high-level American and Chinese trade negotiators have led the White House to postpone tariffs on some Chinese imports from September 1 to December 15, and to remove other items from the list altogether. Critics will say that President blinked, buffeted by swooning stock markets and talk of a possible recession that could damage his reelection prospects.
That may be true. But it is also true that much of what the trade battle was meant to achieve has already been accomplished. That’s called winning.
Though elites continue to deplore Trump’s hawkish stance against China’s cheating, the confrontation has helped publicize Beijing’s corrupt and despotic regime. The result is an emboldened pro-democracy uprising in Hong Kong, a reordering of global supply chains formerly overly-dependent on China and, perhaps most important, more aggressive truth-telling by the media. Those are significant accomplishments.
Starting with the media turnaround: a recent piece in the Financial Times reported that a group of Chinese hackers were “carrying out political espionage for Beijing while simultaneously attacking businesses for personal financial gain…”