Trump’s attempts to use trade war against China will backfire on his supporters

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/28 21:44:53

If US President Donald Trump continues to drag the US into a trade war with China, his supporters are highly likely to get hurt as China performs strategic counterattacks against trade tariffs.

A new CNN poll showed Trump's approval rating "has rebounded to its highest level since the 100-day mark of his presidency." Trump's embrace of the protectionist policies and his hard-line stance toward China perhaps make Trump more popular among the public as he promises to bring back millions of jobs and revive steel mills, but are there many people who hope Trump's recently adopted protectionist measures will evolve into a full-blown trade war with China?

On trade generally, 38 percent approve of Trump's work while 50 percent disapprove, according to the CNN poll. It's not hard to find supporters of Trump's hard-line stance toward China, but no one wants to be the victim of the trade war.

Trump's recently adopted protectionist measures are likely to give an unfair advantage to specific groups and help the president's party win more support in the mid-term elections in November 2018. In this context, Trump's supporters should be the target of China's counterattack against trade tariffs, in a bid to prevent certain groups from gaining from the trade war. Those who want to be the biggest beneficiaries of Trump's protectionist policies will turn out to be the victims of China's countermeasures.

China is an important trade partner of the US. The two countries' economic structures are highly complementary. China probably won't deal a serious blow to all US companies, some of which are in favor of free trade. It would be the most effective if Trump's supporters were hurt by China's counterattacks to trade tariffs.

China does not want a trade war with the US, but the government will not sit idly by if its economy is hurt. It's not important how much money worth of US exports will be targets of  China's counterattack, but how much pain Trump's supporters will be forced to endure.

A key priority for Trump in the coming months may be how to win the mid-term elections in November. The most powerful counterattack from Beijing would be to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of Trump's supporters. If Trump wants to depend on the trade war to gain more support from the public, all his attempts will be in vain.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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