There were a few good talks at CPAC, and Michael Pillsbury’s short talk on the President’s handling of China was an important one (video below). If you are an economics wonk and follow China, you likely know who he is.
Pillsbury highlights the Space Force and how the new attention to space is a critical achievement. Why? China launched almost twice as many rockets and satellites into space as we did last year. From a perspective of obtaining the technological and wartime high ground, that’s a chilling fact.
The next point is candidate Trump said if Hillary wins, China will surpass the United States. Trade deal, $200B of new purchases, stopping trade theft and allowing American companies to do business in China without giving up the company and IP, and one thing that stunned Henry Kissinger (yes, he’s still alive, he’s 146 years old now) is Trump’s insistence that he would not drop tariffs to get a deal done.
The President asked for reform of CFIUS, the committee that investigates Chinese (and foreign) purchases of American companies that have technological and security implications. The bill passed 400-2 before the President signed it into law. That’s amazing.
Next up, Huawei. The President got $1B to rip out and replace Huawei equipment from rural carriers who wouldn’t have had the budget to do so. He’s also requested the extradition of Huawei’s CFO, currently held in Canada.
Yet another incredible massive accomplishment was bringing allies together to counter China’s One Belt, One Road global heist by reining in the World Bank’s ridiculous loans to the Chinese. China was receiving 40% of all World Bank contracts. Insane.
Pillsbury highlights Trump’s courting of Xi to begin the journey to a deal. Xi holds all the power in China, so President Trump essentially made him accountable for any China misbehavior.
He highlights how Trump got the usually secretive Chinese to post their information about the virus online. China never does stuff like that.
In closing, Pillsbury talks about his famous book “The Hundred-Year Marathon”. He says, however, that because of President Trump, he was wrong, and the Chinese plan will fail because of the President’s achievements. That’s a humble thing to say.
The thing that impressed me about this talk is if you follow Pillsbury, he’s in the camp that China is way more powerful than people think and can outlast United States presidential terms. The fact that he believes China has been brought to heel speaks volumes to me.
I’ve been in the camp that they have a lot of staying power and will dump the burden onto their citizens, but they are a paper tiger. I believe that and the fact they actually signed that phase one deal proves it. They came to the table, and we didn't even break out our big guns yet.
Finally, I have to take my obligatory swipe at “conservatives” who say “I agree with Trump on most things, but muh tariffs...”. When I hear this, I think to myself “wow, this person has no grasp of basic economics, and knows absolutely nothing about China.” I’ve heard this repeated over the past few years, and not one single time has there been any semblance of some intelligent alternative to dealing with China.
I think these people are slow learners, and they heard the never-Trump parrots chirp this from their perches of idiocy, more often than not referring to Adam Smith’s perspective on tariffs. Being the idiots they are, they prove they’ve never even read Adam Smith, as the cases Trump is using tariffs are actually supported by Smith in his writings.
When you hear someone imply Trump is not a free trader, or juxtapose the two as “free-trade” versus “tariffs”, and therefore Trump is not a free-trade guy, you can rest assured that someone is speaking from a perspective of no understanding or knowledge, and you can begin to question what other topics of which they indulge are from a platform of ignorance.
Tariffs are a powerful tool when used correctly, as the President has masterfully done.