Boxed In on China
Bloomberg Businessweek|January 24, 2022
Biden’s inability to extract concessions from Beijing is a liability going into November’s midterms
Jenny Leonard

Two years ago, then-President Donald Trump signed the U.S.-China Phase One trade agreement, hailing it as an “historic” deal. Joe Biden’s team spent the presidential campaign criticizing it as too limited in scope and lacking teeth. Yet once the Democrat took office, there was a recalibration. In a speech in October, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai described the framework as “useful” and said it’s had “value in stabilizing the relationship.”

But she also pledged the administration would make sure China lived up to its commitments. “We must defend to the hilt our economic interests,” she said. “And that means taking all steps necessary to protect ourselves against the waves of damage inflicted over the years through unfair competition.”

With the midterms looming in November, the White House is under increasing pressure to show it’s willing to punish China for not holding up its end of the bargain. Trade data through November show its imports from the U.S. amounted to less than 60% of the additional $200 billion the agreement targeted over two years.

Some analysts say the administration is boxed in when it comes to possible counter measures. Officials have privately admitted Trump’s tariffs are inflicting more harm on U.S. businesses and households than on Chinese exporters. They’ve also recognized that the duties have lost a lot of their leverage. Data point to China having posted a record trade surplus with the U.S. in 2021, thanks in large part to Americans’ pandemic-stoked appetite for Chinese-made goods.

Raising the tariffs, which cover 60% of China’s exports to the U.S., would be a controversial call at a time when inflation is running higher than it has in decades. Rebalancing the duties to give relief to American businesses would risk accusations from Republicans of being soft on China.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

Bet On It

A Silicon Valley-backed startup wants to bring Wall Street-style trading to the outcome of events. Some regulators say that’s a terrible idea

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

You're Browsing All Wrong

A startup wants to discard the standard formula for the web browser

7 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Killer Heat Is Here

The record temperatures ravaging India are a warning of global catastrophes to come

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Opening the Spigot

Conservatives want to limit social media companies’ power to control content

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Expanding Access to Mind Expansion

Companies offer guided drug trips on jungle retreats, at city clinics, and in your living room

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Europe's Travel Rebound Wobbles

A staffing crisis at airlines, airports, and even the Chunnel left some operators overwhelmed

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Better-Odds Babies

Genetic testing companies promise they can predict an embryo’s probable future health. Some parents don’t want to stop there

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Are We Still Doing Scooters?

Lime says people are scooting more than ever, but providing urban transit is a hard way to make unicorn-level profits

2 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

"You Know What's Cool?"

Facebook has spent a decade successfully ripping off its newer, hotter rivals. But this time, it tried to copy TikTok and blew up Instagram instead

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)

Pivoting to Troll

Elon Musk’s incessant posting may do wonders for his ego and clout in right-wing circles, but it has destroyed value pretty much everywhere else

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 30 - June 06, 2022 (Double Issue)
RELATED STORIES

THE PANDEMIC KILLED DISSENT IN HONG KONG

WHEN GREAT BRITAIN returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, a condition of the transfer was that Beijing would allow the territory to maintain its own government until 2047. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never liked this agreement, and the COVID-19 pandemic provided the excuse to all but erase the “one country, two systems” distinction.

1 min read
Reason magazine
June 2022

THE INSIDE MAN

Meet JOSEPH KAHN, the new, old-school editor of the Times.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
April 25-May 8, 2022

Sorry, iPhone 6 Plus users, your phone probably can't be repaired anymore

Apple moves two older devices to 'vintage' status.

1 min read
Macworld
April 2022

CHINA USED TV, TIKTOK STARS IN DISCREET OLYMPICS CAMPAIGN

A “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” TV star, a Paralympic swimmer and a self-described “brand king” were among the Instagram and TikTok influencers who were paid by Chinese officials for a discreet campaign that promoted the Beijing Winter Olympics, new Justice Department documents reveal.

3 mins read
Techlife News
April 16, 2022

CHINESE HACKERS REPORTEDLY TARGET INDIA'S POWER GRID

India’s power sector has been targeted by hackers in a long-term operation thought to have been carried out by a state-sponsored Chinese group, a U.S.-based private cybersecurity company detailed in a new report.

3 mins read
Techlife News
April 09, 2022

Will China Attack Taiwan?

As a Chinese takeover of Taiwan looms, the United States is facing its greatest challenge in the Pacific since World War II.

10+ mins read
Men's Journal
April - May 2022

CHINA IS WATCHING

THE RUSSIAN INVASION IS RESHAPING BEIJING'S PLANS TO MAKE TAIWAN ITS OWN

10+ mins read
Newsweek
April 01 - 08, 2022

China Is Watching

The russian invasion is reshaping Beijing's plans to make Taiwan its own

10+ mins read
Newsweek Europe
April 01 - 08, 2022

ONE OF A GRIND

RELIEF CARVING WITH POWER!

2 mins read
Family Handyman
April - May 2022

Biden Wants to Cut Into China's Electric Battery Dominance

President Joe Biden highlighted his efforts to counter China’s dominance of the electric battery market as he touted domestic efforts to mine and process lithium and rare metals necessary to create the technology that powers cars, electronics, wind turbines and more.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
February 25, 2022