US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the US Department of Agriculture will adopt a $12 billion emergency plan to aid farmers hurt by the trade war. It is considered a clear signal that the trade war is causing a real impact on the US economy as well as an avowal by Trump to deploy tariffs as a weapon of trade war.
This is a funny scene. The US is not suffering natural disasters. American farmers should have made money expanding their markets. But they are now being aided. No one knows how long this peculiar “disaster” will last. Many US famers must be at a loss over their future livelihoods.
With the escalation of the trade war, more industries will be affected. It will be difficult to decide who will receive subsidies and who will not. Trump’s administration is disrupting the basic logic of economic life. By causing trouble for China, the EU, Mexico and Canada, it is plunging the US domestic economy in chaos.
Other countries including China will of course be forced to face the impact of the trade war. They will also carry out assistance activities to affected industries and companies. The White House is hoping that Beijing will make a major concession to Washington when it can no longer stand the escalating damages.
Such wishful thinking is too naïve. Trump believes that US society can endure the agony of a temporary trade war for long-term interests. Then why would he be certain that China cannot bear the same pain?
The vast majority of Chinese people are well aware that China has been confronted by the US with a trade war. No matter how reluctant the nation is to fight, it has no alternative. But US society knows that the trade war was launched by the White House and the ball is in the US court to stop it or find a wiser option. The Trump administration needs to prove that it is correct to bring its people anguish through the trade war, while other nations do not need to do anything more than retaliate.
China has experienced numerous difficulties and challenges. Its development in the past 20 years has been relatively smooth, but its mechanism remains to deal with major obstacles. The nation once faced massive layoffs among its State-owned enterprises and collective economic sanctions from the West. How could the difficulties of a trade war be insurmountable?
Washington has always accused Europe and China of agriculture subsidies. As a matter of fact, the US itself has long offered subsidies to its farmers, and now it has announced increased subsidies. It seems that the international discourse around the rules will be changed.
Some believe that Trump will hold onto his mistakes before the mid-term election in November, so as to maintain support.
But the Chinese people are looking beyond November. They are preparing to fight in the long run. Perhaps only with such a massive trade war can Washington rethink the value of Sino-US cooperation.