In pursuing a tariff-first, “America First” trade policy, Donald Trump made the United States less secure and more susceptible to manipulation by the Chinese government, according to a new book by former National Security Adviser John Bolton. In reporting on the book, many news articles overlooked one of the lessons from Bolton’s revelations: Protectionist trade policies can make America more vulnerable.
Donald Trump begged Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him politically by buying more goods from U.S. farmers, according to Bolton. However, Chinese entities already purchased a great deal of U.S. agricultural goods before Trump increased tariffs on Chinese imports, and left to market forces China would have continued to import large quantities of U.S. farm products. Trump believed he needed to sell out American interests to help his political fortunes, reports Bolton. Trump’s policy decision in 2018 to raise tariffs on Chinese goods resulted in the Chinese government retaliating against U.S. imports, which hurt farmers.
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