Bellwether city shows Trump how to thrive in new world order

A day or two after Mr Donald Trump announced tariffs on a spate of Chinese goods, the world was gripped by fears of a trade war. More than a week later, there is a storyline building that perhaps the US President had the right idea. China is negotiating with the United States; the US and South Korea will probably cut a new trade deal. While the administration is right to call China out over unfair trade practices, however, there is also a risk of taking away the wrong message, which is that tariffs are the best way to protect the US Rust Belt.

China may not play fair, but it plays the long game. This is the crucial point. While Mr Trump rails mostly against the trade deficit, China has an industrial policy designed to win the jobs of the future in strategic high-tech industries. This is the better strategy, as evidenced not only by what is happening in the Middle Kingdom, but also in the US.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2018, with the headline 'Bellwether city shows Trump how to thrive in new world order'. Print Edition | Subscribe