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

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.

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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