With US farmers hit by trade war, lawmakers try taking matters into their own hands

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/4 1:22:01

As US farmers are hit by US President Donald Trump's trade war, US senators from agricultural states are in China meeting with senior officials, in an apparent bid to lobby China for purchasing US agricultural products. But such efforts are unlikely to go anywhere without the US stopping its bullying trade strategy. 

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He met with a delegation led by US Senator Steve Daines and Senator David Perdue in Beijing on Tuesday, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Liu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said China firmly opposes trade war, which is not conducive to China, the US, or the world.

Daines, also co-chair of the US House of Senate US-China Working Group, and Perdue, said they are not willing to see economic and trade conflicts between the two sides, according to Xinhua.

Daines is from Montana, and Perdue is from Georgia. The two big agricultural states are bearing the brunt of trade war as the harvest season is coming.

Taking soybeans as an example, data from US Department of Agriculture shows that China used to import 55 percent of US' soybeans, but US' soybean exports to China was 75 percent down from September 2018 to May 2019, compared to the same nine-month period from 2017 to 2018.

The visit of two Republican Senators from US' agricultural states shows Trump's persistence as a  trade bully is intensifying political divisions within the US and will cost him more votes in the upcoming presidential election, according to Chinese experts.

The US senators may seek to persuade China to give in and buy more US agricultural products, as pressure on US farmers is tightening in the upcoming harvest season, said Gao Lingyun, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. 

Another major possible purpose is they are trying to conduct independent research while Trump said he is pushing negotiation with China despite talks not going anywhere, Gao added.

The two US senators said they will continue to play positive roles in deepening mutual understanding and promoting the development of bilateral relations during the meeting on Tuesday, Xinhua said.

Trump's maximum pressure strategy on China has proved counterproductive for his original goals, including getting manufacturing back to the US and narrowing the trade deficit with China, having failed to make China give in.

But Trump went on Twitter on Tuesday to threaten that a US-China trade deal will be "much tougher," if he is reelected.

Chen Wenling, chief economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Trump's persistence on using tariffs as weapon and provoking economic war with China in many sectors will cost him votes in his bid for reelection.

Trump is acting as a bully in the unilateral trade war against China to be his political weight in the reelection, but his administration is sacrificing the interests of US farmers, businessmen and consumers, Chen said.

If Trump continues to act arbitrarily with his trade bullying, his tactic will prove to be counterproductive wishful thinking too, Chen added.


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