Trump pries China's protectionist regime open

As a committed free trader who knows both the benefits of free trade and the dangers of the absence of free trade, I'm impressed.  Far from being a protectionist, President Trump is effectively creating conditions for more free trade.

It's a possibility that's been rather ignored by the shuddery markets that have been tumbling on fears of a trade war.  The Chinese, in fact, are caving in to our president's demands that they open their economy.  Contrary to the statements of Chinese business leaders (who need to please President Xi Jinping or else), Trump's threatened tariffs are going to hurt China more than they hurt the U.S., and China is acting.  Never seen a U.S. president accomplish this, and the effect could be revolutionary.

Here's what the Chinese had to say about it:

Mr. Xi highlighted areas where China was willing to give, including pledging to ease restrictions on imported cars by the end of the year as well as repeating open-ended promises to give foreigners greater access to the country's financial markets – promises officials have made in [the] past.  He also pledged to strengthen intellectual property rights, addressing one of Mr. Trump's main complaints.

His comments struck a tonal contrast with the more combative language coming from Mr. Trump and his administration.

"We should respect each other's core interest and major concerns and follow a new approach to state-to-state relations, featuring dialogue rather than confrontation," he said.  "We live in a time with an overwhelming trend toward openness and connectivity."

I have been very concerned about the Chinese capacity for retaliatory tariffs targeted at rural areas in the U.S. in response to President Trump's 1,600 proposed tariffs on Chinese exports in the next 60 days.  But the news that other foreign buyers are snapping up U.S. agricultural products in place of China is pretty well getting the point home that it's the Chinese who are getting more of the stick.

Meanwhile, on the China side, it's obvious that its economy has its vulnerabilities, and China has quickly announced tariff cuts on U.S. auto imports.  With Xi taking the step to become dictator for life, it's not a sign of things going well.

The New York Times worries that China may be all talk and no action on these pledges to reform.  Maybe.  But with fear the motivator and the Chinese not wanting to tangle with Trump, they may follow through on a lot.  The key here is whether Trump will keep the pressure on.  Anyone want to bet he won't?

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