Americans still covet trade with China, blame Trump administration for complicating issue

By Xing Xiaojing Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/26 18:40:27

A corn granary used by Brock Hansen, a farmer from Iowa Photo: Xing Xiaojing/GT

The past year was a tough year for China-US relations. From Washington DC to Iowa to Seattle, this Global Times reporter recently talked to over 50 government officials, scholars, reporters, businessmen and farmers in the US and asked them what they think of the trade war and China-US relations.


Talking to experts in Washington who influence US strategy toward China is a great way to understand what the US thinks of China.

The Global Times talked to Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce, who said common people are worse hit by the trade war than Wall Street.

He said the Trump administration has given the wrong prescription to the trade issues with China.

Freeman said if he had the opportunity to negotiate with China, he would target specific issues and consult with China along with other countries, as an overall change of trade relations between China and US is difficult.

Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said calling the current dispute between China and the US a "trade war" is overstated.

However, he said if the US economy enters a recession, the China and US trade dispute may escalate into a worse situation. Scissors expects this to happen in 2022.

Hansen shows soybeans from his farm.

Des Moines

In reality, Iowa has a long history of friendly relations with China. Terry Branstad, the US ambassador to China since 2017, served as governor of Iowa for 8,169 days, making him the longest-serving governor in US history. Under his governance, Iowa and Hebei Province have been in a sister-state relationship since 1983, and Des Moines and Shijiazhuang became sister cities in 1985.

Thanks to this friendship, Iowa has enjoyed good trade relations with China. Donnelle Eller, agriculture reporter at the Des Moines Register, told the Global Times that about a third of soybeans grown in Iowa were exported to China. 

Brock Hansen, a 38-year-old farmer at Des Moines who runs a 4,000 acre farmland growing corns, said overcapacity of soybeans in the US has caused prices to dip in recent years, and the trade war is adding insult to injury.

He said previously, 50 percent of soybeans would have been sold by now, but this year only 30 percent is sold, resulting in a drop in income in his family.

He told the Global Times that the story between Iowa and China is long-standing, and he believes that after the darkest hour dawn will come.

In July, the Trump administration announced a $12 billion plan to aid farmers that are hit by the trade war. Some farmers told US media that they would pass on the government aid as the money is a pacifier.

Hansen has not taken the subsidy. He said many reasons contributed to the slump of farm economy in the US, and Trump shouldn't take all the blame.


As a port city, Seattle is also one of the front lines of the China-US trade war. In September, Peak Pegasus, the famous cargo ship carrying $20 million worth of soybeans, left here and made headlines in China and the US after it failed to reach the port of Dalian before tariffs kicked in.

However, this Global Times reporter didn't feel much tension over China-US relations here.

On the contrary, business representatives, government officials and business associations touted investment opportunities in Seattle to the Global Times and expressed their warm welcome of Chinese investment. Some even prepared presentations and materials in Chinese.

Chinese buyers are an important player in Seattle's real estate market. According to Yang Xiaohong, vice president of real estate company Kidder Mathews, the company established a team targeting Chinese buyers so as to provide better services.

A reporter from the Seattle Times told the Global Times that Chinese tech companies like Tencent, Baidu, Huawei and ZTE brought over 1,500 employment opportunities to the locals.

As one of the biggest tech cities in the US, deepened trade and exchange with Chinese companies is nothing but beneficial to the city.

Newspaper headline: ‘Wrong prescription’

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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