US-China trade war reaches second anniversary, with superpower relations at ‘alarming’ lowest ebb



Finbarr Bermingham|South China Morning Post


On the second anniversary of Washington unleashing its first trade war tariffs on Beijing, tensions continue to flare over issues ranging from Hong Kong to technology, with observers in both countries agreed that the superpower relationship between China and the United States is at its lowest ebb in decades.

The motivation for US President Donald Trump was to close America’s trade deficit with China, and it has narrowed. China continues to purchase American farm goods, seen as crucial to Trump’s plans to win re-election in November, but these are widely viewed as sticking plasters on ties that otherwise appear on the verge of collapse.

“I don’t know that we would have thought we would have fallen this far,” said Clark Jennings, former White House trade adviser to former US president Barack Obama.

“I don’t think I will be considered blasphemous for saying as an Obama appointee that the Obama administration could be criticized for maybe not going far enough at certain points in the US-China relationship,” continued Jennings, now managing director at policy advisory firm C&M International.

“But if there were any gains [from the Trump administration’s strategy], at what cost? Not only to the US domestic economy but at what cost to our relationships around the world and our standing on the global stage?”

“It was notable that US exports of meat to China kept growing even during the height of shortages of supplies in the US earlier in the Covid-19 crisis. I’d expect a continuation of exports,” said Chris Rogers, Panjiva research analyst.

“The bigger issue is whether stricter Chinese rules on Covid-19 inspections of incoming meat dent imports from all suppliers.”

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