US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he will restore tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina. On the same day, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced punitive duties on $2.4 billion of imports from France as the country’s digital services tax “unfairly targets US companies.” The USTR also said similar investigations could be conducted against Italy, Turkey and Austria.
The US is losing control by once again swiping the world with tariffs as a weapon and declaring war against the whole world without scruples. This shows that our world is in chaos and the fragile world governance system is basically paralyzed. Something like the law of the jungle that was once abandoned is coming back.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday that the US tariffs threats on French goods are “unacceptable.” But they are nothing against overwhelming US moves. French President Emmanuel Macron has called for an independent Europe, which differs from Washington’s ideas. It is not surprising even if the tariffs are a US warning to France.
What kind of era are we living in? Perhaps the answer will come after years.
On one hand, technology is pushing a globalization trend which appears irreversible. But on the other hand, narrow nationalism and populism are experiencing an ill-timed surge. Universal education of all mankind has been achieved quite well, but oversimplified mind-sets and provocative extreme slogans are prevailing.
The criteria of right and wrong are intricately intertwined with the benefits pattern. Public opinion has been used as a weapon, and stirring up emotions can often overwhelm sobering truths or common sense on both the community and world level, making it tougher to separate truth from falsehood.
Most importantly, the US has been exploiting its strength to force the international order to first serve its own national interests. Many countries have fallen victim and have been resisting the US to varying degrees. The actual situation is that the US can hardly bring the whole world under its dominion, but it is also difficult for other countries to revolt. The world is in such a dilemma.
Facing US nonsense and other countries’ anger, Chinese society must do the following things well.
First, China should in no way mistakenly believe that the patience of all countries will run out, and an “anti-US wave” will rage like a storm. This is not the basic political logic of today’s world. In the face of US power, most countries will protect themselves first, and cutting losses by all means will be their actual response.
Second, such a period may last some time. Even if there are political changes inside the US, the world cannot go back to the way it used to be. It is hard to predict what the world will be like.
Third, China is the main target of US suppression, and this won’t change. We shouldn’t go all out and collide head-on with the US. It can only contain China in limited areas, which cannot affect China’s rise. As long as we hold our ground, most US provocations are beating the air.
China should focus on development and exploring more common interests and values with other countries. US policies toward China are irrational in many aspects with ugly double standards. As long as China better develops and sincerely opens up, we will be capable of dealing with the US while we increasingly receive the support of the international community. These two goals are what we should strive to gradually achieve.