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How Tariffs Play In To Trump’s Xenophobic Agenda


How Tariffs Play In To Trump’s Xenophobic Agenda

Tobita Chow

In early March, President Trump announced steel tariffs as part of a protectionist, anti-China economic strategy. Since then, he’s put tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products, and threatens to sanction $200 billion more.

It is all too short a road from treating Asian industry as a threat to treating Asian peopleas a threat.


This president acts, “then” considers any consequences. Or not.

Rational minded Presidents, consider alternative actions after much diplomatic debate, then act.


This is an interesting article.

It does leave questions.

It also makes observations. It is hard to criticize tariffs simply because they are tariffs, given the fiascoes of what gets passed off as the “free market.” But while I doubt that tariffs are an essential source of xenophobia, Chow’s apprehension here is well based. Both anti-Russian and anti-Asian bigotry have increased alarmingly in the States of late, for reasons that appear grotesquely contrived. Both Democratic and Republican regimes have tested borders, encircled, and provoked both countries. The usual parrots repeat absurdities about Korea, Syria, Russia, and to an extent China, in much the manner that they did to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran in order to prepare excuses for war. One may hope that this is bluff. But all of the arguments that I have heard to assert that follow the line that our leaders are not insane or delusional. Sadly, that has long appeared unlikely.

The idea of solidarity between the workers of various nations is an appropriate response if it can be mounted, and surely mentioning the idea, as Chow does here, has to be part of accomplishing that.

But before we can accomplish that, we will need common vectors of discourse. One early question would appear to be how to manage that.


The writer’s knowledge of what’s going on in China is surprising, given the massive propaganda Beijing and the American rightwing are drumming on the world. For nearly a decade tens if not hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers had held demonstrations, sometimes violent ones, against the scourge of dog-eat-dog capitalism in China. Most western media had ignored this as multinational corporations made trillions of dollars and stashed them in safe havens, away from their countries’ tax agencies. The so-called Chinese “miracle” was built on the slave labor of Chinese peasants. This was due to a policy of “letting some grow rich first,” meaning largely the urban-based strata, mostly affiliated to the Communist Party, and party princelings while the poor lived wretched lives. If American unions can show leadership instead of being corporate collaborators, they could indeed reach out to Chinese workers and, together with workers from the rest of the world, spark a planetary-wide revolution for a just and more egalitarian society. So the present economic chaos can be turned into an opportunity for creating a world where all can live dignified lives, where no one need become a refugee, and when economic wars and military build ups become historical anomalies.


The very nature of “free trade” gives more power to multinational corporations, because it enables them to play one country against another to demand worse working conditions, lower wages, and lower taxes. Allying with the progressives of China is fine if we can find a way to talk with them, difficult given that they are forbidden to openly organize, but unless we make it harder for businesses to move operations from one country to another, we will not make democracy strong again.

See stallman.org//business-supremacy-treaties.html.