WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump pointedly blamed the World Trade Organization for enabling China’s rise at the expense of the United States, in remarks to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) on Feb. 23.
“The World Trade Organization created China,” said Trump to thousands of attendees. “China has been a rocket ship since. And now, last year, we had almost a $500 billion trade deficit with China.”
“I have great respect for President Xi, but we can’t have that,” said Trump. “We have to do what we have to do.”
“Under my Administration, the era of economic surrender is OVER,” Trump wrote in a tweet.
Besides China, Trump also criticized Mexico and NAFTA. “We have a $100 billion trade deficit with Mexico,” Trump said. “What does that tell you? It tells you that NAFTA is no good.”
Trump sees China’s economic relations with the United States and the world in an overall negative light, a view that has traditionally been the minority among the economists on international trade, who largely favor free trade. However, this negative view of trade relations with China has quickly gained prominence in recent years as skeptics of China’s rise have become more vocal. Many were picked by Trump to spearhead the administration’s attempt to reshape U.S. trade policies.
Peter Navarro is a Harvard-trained economist and University of California–Irvine professor whom Trump appointed to head the newly created National Trade Council at the beginning of the Trump administration.
Navarro is well-known for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese regime and China’s trade practices and has consistently argued that the admission of China to the international trade system by the United States and the West has only allowed the Chinese regime to become more well-financed and well-resourced, while at the same time the regime exports authoritarianism and commits military aggression.
The Trump administration has taken various measures against China’s unfair trade practices. On Feb. 16, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross released reports recommending high tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, explicitly naming China and other countries’ dumping of products as a threat to U.S. national security.
An increasing number of experts in national security have also begun to question China’s economic relations with the United States and the world.
“Despite their rhetoric, China’s leaders regard trade and investment as domains of strategic competition rather than simple ‘win-win cooperation,’” said Aaron Friedberg, a professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Feb. 15. “There is very little evidence that … they intend to abandon their present approach.”
WATCH: Death by China – How America Lost its Manufacturing Base
*Note from the director Prof. Peter Navarro: As you watch this film, it is important to always distinguish clearly between the good and hard-working people of China, and their repressive Communist government now victimizing both American and Chinese citizens alike.