Tough on China
Trump used his speech announcing the move to hammer Beijing, saying that “no administration has been tougher on China than this administration.”
“We imposed historic tariffs. We stood up to China’s intellectual property theft, at a level that nobody has ever come close. We confronted untrustworthy Chinese technology and telecom providers,” he said. “We convinced many countries — many countries — and I did this myself, for the most part, not to use Huawei because we think it’s an unsafe security risk. It’s a big security risk. I talked many countries out of using it. If they want to do business with us, they can’t use it.”
He also — before laying into Democratic rival Joe Biden — blamed China for “concealing the (corona)virus and unleashing it upon the world.”
While the Trump administration has taken general actions which hurt Hong Kong and China, some of this is expected to blow back on the US, which also relies on strong ties with both markets. Targeting officials meanwhile could focus the economic pain and inconvenience on individuals actually responsible for policy on Hong Kong.
Trade above all else
He hit Biden for supporting China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, which Trump said was “one of the greatest geopolitical and economic disasters in world history.”
“The China deal — they’re buying a lot,” he said. “They are buying a lot. Yeah, we’ll say that: They’re buying a lot. A lot of people ask, ‘How are they doing on the trade deal?’ They’re buying a lot.”
In his own words, Trump was elected because of his stance on trade. With even the slightest glimmer of hope for a trade deal still remaining, this might make him shy away from taking the hard line on China some of his advisers want, even as relations with Beijing seem to be at an unsalvageable point.
Were Trump able somehow to salvage an “unprecedented” trade deal with China, boosting the economy as he headed into the election, that could significantly change the eventual outcome.
“Trump commingled the personal and the national not just on trade questions but across the whole field of national security,” he said. “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations.”
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