Douglas Andrews / March 10, 2022

China Cheats Again

The U.S. trade deficit has hit an all-time high, largely because the Chinese didn’t live up to their end of the deal.

With the possible exception of single-handedly wrecking the mainstream media’s reputation, Donald Trump’s greatest accomplishment as president was to raise our collective awareness of China as not only a formidable power but as a scheming and rapacious trading partner. Where past presidents had been mum on the Red Giant’s currency manipulation, its shameless intellectual property theft, and its one-way approach to trade, Trump loudly and consistently called it out.

The result was a series of U.S. tariffs and a mini trade war — and a noticeable change in Chinese behavior that allowed us to hammer out a tougher and more balanced trade deal. But now, with Trump safely out of office and feckless Joe Biden in his place, the ChiComs have been breathing easier. Much easier. So much so that they’re back to cheating on trade deals again. As Fox Business reports:

China failed to increase its purchase of U.S. goods despite an agreement with President Trump to grab an additional $200 billion of U.S. exports, a new study found.

Trump signed a “historic” deal with China in January 2020 which would see Beijing increase its imports by Dec. 31, 2021. A study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics examined the “Phase 1” agreement, which dictated that China would buy at least $227.9 billion of U.S. goods in 2020 and $274.5 billion in 2021, but the country hit only $288.8 billion over the two-year period instead.

Thus, China made just 57% of its promised purchases and didn’t increase its imports from the U.S. at all. Essentially, the ChiComs waited Trump out — kind of like how a dealer waits for a junkie to come crawling back. And now, with a weak and thoroughly compromised Joe Biden sitting across the table, it’s business as usual again. And the result has been entirely predictable. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. trade deficit increased 27% last year to an all-time high of $859.1 billion, underscoring the strength of the nation’s economy and its continued hefty dependence on imports from China and other countries. The 2021 trade deficit in goods and services well exceeded the previous record of $763.53 billion in 2006, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Annual trade-balance records, which aren’t inflation-adjusted, date to 1960.

“Covid showed how desperately dependent we were on foreign products … and today, we are just as dependent on the same supplies and suppliers coming from China and other countries,” said Jeff Ferry, chief economist at Coalition for a Prosperous America, a group representing manufacturing, agricultural, and union groups supporting reduction in trade with China.

Sarah Bianchi, deputy U.S. trade representative, was more pointed in affixing the blame: “It’s really clear that the Chinese have not lived up to their Phase One commitment,” she said last week during a panel discussion, referring to the Trump-era bilateral agreement.

Cheaters gonna cheat. And suckers gonna suck. And as for all of Joe Biden’s “Made in America” talk during his rambling and obfuscatory State of the Union Address, it’s just that: talk. Even with gas prices and trade deficits at record levels, Scranton Joe is too beholden to his party’s “green” wing to let us manufacture the one commodity that we’re best at producing and that we enjoy in greatest abundance: energy.

The ChiComs are a formidable foe — and not just as trading partners. As our Lewis Morris has noted, “The Chinese have been playing the long game for decades by infiltrating world governing bodies, softening up international markets with cheap goods, stealing technology, and building a 21st century military.”

If we can’t hold them accountable, we can’t expect them to play fair. And we can’t expect to win that long game.

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