The qualitative costs of the trade war
Updated 22:03, 14-May-2019
Adam Garrie
Editor's Note: Adam Garrie is the director of the UK-based global policy and analysis think tank Eurasia Future and co-host of talk show "The History Boys." The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
The U.S. has unveiled a list of additional Chinese imports of 300 billion U.S. dollars that it plans to slap tariffs on. On June 17, a public hearing concerning the list will be held.
The move is the second offensive the U.S. has launched in the renewed China-U.S. trade war which was ignited by the U.S. decision to raising tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports last Friday.
Following the U.S. tariff hikes, China is set to impose tariffs at the rates of 10, 20 and 25 percent on a variety of U.S. imports totaling 60 billion U.S. dollars. On the first of June, these retaliatory tariffs will go into effect. Such a development is far from the one preferred by China as it is the long held Chinese view that the entire trade war should have long ago ended. Instead, due to Donald Trump's surprise trade war escalation announced last week, China has simply followed the rational route of placing reciprocal tariffs on U.S. goods entering the Chinese marketplace. 
This itself is not shocking, nor is the fact that the U.S. stock markets continue to react negatively as they have ever since Trump's tariff announcement. It is also not shocking that consumer rights groups in the U.S. and advocates for farmers are deeply worried about the economic consequences that ordinary Americans will have to endure due to Washington's pro-tariff policy.
What is surprising however is that some on the ultra-nationalist side of U.S. politics find it shocking that China has responded in the proportional way that it has. There was never a question in any rational person's mind that if the U.S. decided to place additional tariffs on Chinese imports, China would do the same in respect of U.S. imports. There will never be an instance in which China will conduct an act of surrender by allowing the U.S. to put new tariffs on its goods without responding in a proportional way.
Customers browse products inside an Apple Inc. store in Shanghai, China, May 9, 2019. /VCG Photo‍

Customers browse products inside an Apple Inc. store in Shanghai, China, May 9, 2019. /VCG Photo‍

Therefore, anyone in Washington who thinks that expecting China to relent under the pressure of new tariffs is somehow a proper strategy is not familiar with the way in which major economies react to external developments.
Someone who thinks that China can be broken under the weight of new tariffs also does not understand that China is an incredibly strong country with the world's second largest economy in terms of overall GDP. Although China and U.S. trade is a vital reality for both countries, China has scores of important trading partners throughout the world, both within and outside of the game changing Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
If these words sound harsh, it is because competition that is unnecessary is as harsh as it is foolish. China and the U.S. both have the capacities to compete with one another in a new reality of perpetual tariffs for decades to come. The losers in such a situation would be human beings across borders who stand to benefit from technological, medical, scientific and cultural exchange and cooperation between peoples and nations.
While the BRI is built around an atmosphere of cooperation and functions best when exchange and cooperation reach high levels, Washington's mentality regarding the current trade war is based not on elevating the best qualities of humanity but is instead based on lowering the human condition.
When one realizes that cures for the worst diseases, tools for exploring other planets, energy generation technology that is environmentally sound, 5G speeds that can revolutionize commerce, education and cultural exchange that enlightens the world is being curtailed by a trade war which prohibits enhanced connectivity, one realizes that nationalistic economic policies are about far more than share prices and economic statistics.
When examining the Cold War during which the U.S. and the USSR were the two most powerful countries, it is easy to imagine all of the productivity, innovation and human advancements that were lost due to an atmosphere of rivalry rather than one of cooperation and global connectivity.
Today, the wider world is embracing ever more connectivity and cooperation but in spite of these global trends, the trade war represents an ugly throwback to a bygone age.
China will continue to act in a proportional manner to the trade war so long as it exists. Yet every day the trade war does exist, peoples beyond those in China and the U.S. are being cheated of the great opportunities that an interconnected world can provide. This is a lose-lose situation and the only remedy is a win-win agreement that can permanently end the trade war.
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