IF YOU DO IT IM GONNA DO IT IF YOU DO: US-CHINA TRADE

IF YOU DO IT IM GONNA DO IT IF YOU DO: US-CHINA TRADE

We have yet to hear the big guns pop in a US-China trade war, but both sides are now taking aim with heavier artillery. Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump threatened an additional $200 billion of tariffs on Chinese goods if Beijing has the gall to respond to Washington’s earlier proposal of $50 billion in tariffs with levies of equal measure.


Let’s just review where we’ve been and where we’re at. Take it away, Gabe and Alex:

Round one: Done. Earlier this spring, the US imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from a number of countries, including China. Beijing responded with tariffs on US aluminum, pork, nuts and other goods. Each side hit about $2.5 billion of the other’s goods. Small fry stuff.

Round two: Imminent. The Trump administration announced tariffs last Friday on some $50 billion of Chinese machinery and equipment, which are to go into effect on July 6. China responded, in kind, with a list of tariffs on about $50 billion of US agricultural goods and food products, which will go into effect on the same day.

Round three: Why I oughta! In response to China’s $50 billion response to the $50 billion, Trump asked for an expanded list of Chinese exports — including a number of consumer goods — totaling some $200 billion. China has so far threatened “strong countermeasures,” but hasn’t said exactly what that means.

As you can see, a lot of threats but not a whole lot has actually happened yet. If this is a trade war, we’re still in the phony stage of conflict. So will each side go further?

It’s not really Trump’s style to back down, and the political winds are with him on this one. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is sky-high. What’s more, a majority of Americans support more tariffs on China, including 55 percent of independents who, in fairness, Trump hasn’t exactly courted. It may be true that a wider trade war would hit his base in their wallet. What’s not clear is whether that would drive them away or further bolster Trump’s claims to be defending US workers against a hostile world. In any event, Trump appears willing to take the risk to bolster his, and the GOP’s, standing ahead of the midterms.

For Xi, Washington’s trade threats are an impediment to the broader long-term national goal of dominating the industries of the future and the global economy on which he’s staked his legacy. There is also a more immediate concern: maintaining domestic growth amid a modest slowdown and preparing for the annual meeting of the Communist Party this Fall, where he hopes to parade his political bona fides after a controversial power consolidation last year. But so far the rhetoric coming out of China suggests Xi is willing to stay tough amid mounting US pressure.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here from sunny Nantucket and going to be here for a little bit. Thought we would talk about the latest on COVID. Certainly, we had hoped we'd be talking less about it at this point, at least in terms of the developed world. A combination of the transmissibility of Delta variant and the extraordinary misinformation around vaccines and COVID treatment means that we are not in the position that many certainly had hoped we would be today.

The United States is the biggest problem on this front. We are awash in vaccines. Operation Warp Speed was an enormous success. The best vaccines in the world, the most effective mRNA, the United States doing everything it can to get secure doses for the entire country quick, more quickly than any other major economy in the world, and now we're having a hard time convincing people to take them. The politics around this are nasty and as divided as the country, absolutely not what you want to see in response to a health crisis.

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Alcohol. It's a dangerous drug that has ruined countless lives and derailed many a global summit. But it's also humanity's oldest social lubricant, a magical elixir that can fuel diplomatic breakthroughs, well into the wee hours of the night. As Winston Churchill once quipped, "I've taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." On GZERO World, we take a deep dive down the bottle and examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

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GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

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