Trump's luring US firms back plan another empty promise to cajole voters
Published: Aug 20, 2020 11:23 AM

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Xinhua

Longing for four more years in the White House, US President Donald Trump recently gave a speech during a visit to Minnesota in which he spewed out empty promises to woo his supporters; promises that are likely to fade away after the election just as his previous ones have.

During the nearly one-hour speech on Monday (US time), Trump vowed to create 10 million jobs in 10 months. In order to achieve this lofty goal, he promised to offer tax credits to American companies to lure them to bring their manufacturing bases back to the US from China, Reuters reported.

The US elections have merely become a promise-making contest. Politicians strive to offer bigger and bigger promises to pander to listeners' preferences, or simply to elicit an emotional reaction, regardless of whether those promises are feasible, or indeed reasonable, in the first place.

It was not the first time US politicians have called for US companies to retreat from overseas, and especially from China. Though there may be tax credits on the other side of any such move, the US manufacturing sector has a number of long-standing problems, such as the fact that it lacks an appropriate labor force. Or has an unfavorable business environment, which is one of the reasons firms were driven to move their manufacturing overseas in the first place. Such promises are easy to make, but hard to realize.

In addition, Trump told his supporters on Monday that the American economy will bounce back strongly from the fallout of the pandemic, as long as he stayed in office. The world's largest economic entity, blighted by months of epidemic chaos, is still speeding towards ever increasing number of infections. As of Wednesday, the US had recorded over 5.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the world's total number.

As a result of being hit so hard by the deadly virus, the US has seen millions of job losses, with its unemployment rate surging to 14.7 percent in April from 3.5 percent in February. The latest figure in July was 10.2 percent.

Though it is reasonable that the US economy will bounce back after a sharp decline, a strong rebound is anything but an easy task for the Trump administration. The US economy recorded a historical contraction of 32.9 percent in the second quarter. And per an IMF estimation in June, the US' GDP was expected to fall by 8 percent this year.

As the US' November presidential election draws near, the Trump administration has been stepping up efforts to confront China and create animosity towards it. 

Under the guise of it being a 'national security threat,' Trump is forcing Chinese short-video platform TikTok - which operates entirely outside of the Chinese mainland - to sell its US business to local firms, and even declared that the US government should get a percentage of the deal.

In the meantime, Trump has also started to increase restrictions on Chinese 5G frontrunner Huawei and threaten a further crackdown on Tencent, Alibaba and other Chinese firms.

As the presidential election campaigning gathers pace, it is likely Trump will continue his anti-China tirade with even greater intensity. However, at the end of the day, the Trump administration will have to suffer the consequences of its ill-intended moves.

This article was compiled based on an interview with Mei Xinyu, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.