December 28, 2018

HMM: Trump Didn’t Kill the Global Trade System. He Split It in Two. “Allies find relations modestly tweaked, despite the president’s rhetoric, while relations with China are entering a deep freeze.”

There are two big questions hanging over this realignment. The first is deciding how far the U.S. is prepared to decouple from China. The U.S. has given China until March 1 to avoid higher tariffs by addressing complaints it discriminates against foreign companies and steals their technology. Mr. Trump is counting on a deal that avoids a trade war. But many in his administration and Congress don’t trust China to make the necessary concessions and would likely advocate a sharper break.

The second question is whether the U.S. can persuade allies to join a united front to contain China. Other countries don’t relish the choice. Their economic ties to China are far greater than they ever were to the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Nor are the ideological choices as clear cut. China isn’t waging an ideological struggle against the West as the Soviet Union did.

Greg Ip is sadly mistaken on that last point. Just because Beijing has toned down the Communist rhetoric doesn’t make them any less ambitious than the Soviets were — and flush with a lot more cash, too.

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