Trump's tariffs aim to hurt the Chinese, not to help Americans

New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

The recent escalation in the US-China trade war hints that the ultimate goal of American trade policy is not to help Americans, but to hurt the Chinese.

Trade now looks like part of a larger effort to contain Chinese geopolitical power. In theory, it would be no big deal if the Chinese economy were 50 per cent bigger than the American economy. China could buy 50 per cent more avocados than Americans do, or 50 per cent more cases of Coca-Cola, or 50 per cent more iPhones, and life would go on.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline Trump's tariffs aim to hurt the Chinese, not to help Americans. Subscribe