By Jeff Ferry
Trump's critics warn that tariffs will harm workers and the U.S. economy, but China's economic history suggests otherwise.
As President Donald Trump imposes tariffs on Chinese goods, opponents warn that trade sanctions will boomerang back and hurt the U.S. economy. But these same critics overlook several key lessons from recent global trade history. And what they ignore is that China’s own meteoric rise was driven by a staunchly nationalist trade strategy.
Some brief history: For the past 25 years, China has implemented every pillar of a protectionist trade agenda. Starting in 1994, Beijing deliberately undervalued its currency against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper in the U.S. market. It raised tariffs on a wide range of U.S. goods, including everything from consumer products to automobiles. It levied a value-added tax that encouraged its manufacturers to target export markets. It funneled hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to key industrial sectors. And it mandated the transfer of proprietary technologies to “partner” companies before allowing U.S. companies access to its consumer market. [more...]