As someone who is broadly supportive of President Trump’s foreign policy, particularly toward China, it is sometimes frustrating that the president hasn’t really provided the American people with a Reaganesque vision to go along with his Reaganesque posture. With that in mind, here is my very modest attempt to provide just that. So if you’ll join me in front of an imaginary television, the president is about to address the nation from the Oval Office…
My fellow Americans,
Yesterday you might have watched on TV China’s celebration of 70 years of Communist government. President Xi and his military put on an impressive display of new hardware, including stealth attack drones and hypersonic missiles. Given how much raw science, technical know-how, and intellectual property China has stolen from this country and the West, I’m tempted to call up my Chinese counterpart and ask him when we can expect to take delivery of our share of his new gear. If such a display of raw might was meant to intimidate the people of this country, or the peaceful protestors in Hong Kong, I suggest our friends in Beijing were mistaken.
For 30 years now, allowing Chinese businesses — many of them owned by the oppressive Communist government — to steal hard-earned American know-how and trade secrets was considered just the price of gaining access to one billion Chinese consumers. While it may have seemed like a good trade-off at the time, with China’s growing strength and increasingly aggressive actions toward its neighbors, that is in my estimation no longer true.
It is my determination as president of the United States that it is in the best interest of our country and China, to decouple our economies to as great a degree as is reasonably possible. To that end, I have spent two years on trade negotiations, working hard to protect American interests, American technology, and American jobs from a trade relationship that had grown too advantageous for only one side. A relationship in which one side routinely exploits the other isn’t a very healthy one. We encourage our many allies and trade partners in the region — Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and yes, even Taiwan and Vietnam, and others — to follow our lead.
It saddens me as the freely-elected leader of a free people, to see American technology being used to harass, control, and oppress the people of China. Social media, facial recognition, and other technologies invented here in the U.S. are used daily against Chinese citizens. Worse is being done by Xi’s communist government to religious and ethnic minorities in China’s western provinces. The intelligence reports I receive about Beijing’s cruel treatment of the Uighur people of Xinjiang are disturbing and gruesome.
Recently, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy crossed a major threshold: It is now the largest navy in the world, surpassing even the U.S. Navy in the number of warships at its command. Our Navy is dedicated to preserving the freedom of the seas to all nations, to create secure conditions for the encouragement of peaceful trade. The purpose of China’s navy is to intimidate its neighbors, and to assert unlawful claims in the South China Sea today — and who knows where else, tomorrow. Much of the technology making possible China’s unprecedented peacetime military buildup was stolen — yes, stolen — from hardworking American engineers and technicians.
In the wider region, across Central Asia, the Indian Ocean, and eastern Africa, nations and peoples already feel the heavy hand of China’s imperial ambitions — Beijing’s so-called “New Silk Road” project. Built under the guise of improving trade and infrastructure, China seeks to control an entire host of nations through indebtedness to… China. The great irony is that the New Silk Road is financed in no small part by American dollars sent to China by American consumers. It is time that the world’s most freedom-loving people stopped providing the means of oppression to an imperial power.
To President Xi I say this: I wish for nothing but peace, friendly relations, and mutually beneficial commerce between our two great nations. But if we continue along this course first set more than three decades ago, when the world was a very different place, then keeping the peace I believe will become more difficult instead of less. It is therefore in the best interests of both our countries for the United States to show much greater care in protecting the innovations, technologies, and commerce created in America, by Americans.
My fellow Americans might remember me saying last year that “trade wars are good and easy to win.” That’s not entirely true, but it was my bombastic way of assuring you, the American people, that you finally have a president looking after your best interests. The fact is that whether you believe, as I do, that this trade war with China is good, it is, in fact, necessary. And as with so many of our other national struggles, it will not be easy. There will be difficulties, there will be dislocations. But we will endure them, and emerge much stronger from them, together.
Good night, and may God bless the United States of America.