As the United States, United Nations, and nation states around the world react to North Korea’s most aggressive nuclear test to date, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist’s take on how to deal with its benefactor, China, takes on new significance.
“This is 100 percent about China,” Steve Bannon, who has returned to Breitbart News as its executive chairman, said in an article published by the New York Times on Sunday.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News Sunday that he is drafting a new sanctions package that will cut economic ties with anyone who does business with North Korea — a stance both Trump and Bannon have championed.
“There’s a lot we can do to cut them off economically, much more than we’ve done,” Mnuchin said.
China accounts for as much as 85 percent of North Korea’s trade market, according to the Times.
“Some critics dismissed the president’s suggestion as an empty threat, because, if carried out, it would most likely prompt an immediate legislative remedy by congressional leaders from both parties,” the Times speculated.
“But it was a hit with Mr. Trump’s target domestic audience,” the Times reported, adding, incorrectly, that Bannon was “ousted” from his White House post.
Bannon, according to the Times, “said he had pushed for a tougher stance toward China in the weeks before he left the administration, casting Mr. Trump’s threats as a victory for the economic nationalists over the globalists.”
“Until now, [Bannon] said, his fear was that the White House debate was going to be won by what he called “rational accommodationists” toward China,” the Times reported.
Before publicly announcing his resignation from the Trump administration, Bannon gave an interview to anti-Trump, left-wing journalist Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect.
In that interview, he expressed the importance of an “economic war” with China.
“You might think from recent press accounts that Steve Bannon is on the ropes.” Kuttner wrote.
“But Bannon was in high spirits when he phoned me Tuesday afternoon to discuss the politics of taking a harder line with China, and minced no words describing his efforts to neutralize his rivals at the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury.”
“They’re wetting themselves,” Bannon said, proceeding to detail how he would oust some of his opponents at State and Defense.
“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that.”
“If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover,” Bannon said.
“Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping,” Kuttner wrote.
“We’re going to run the tables on these guys,” Bannon said. “We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”
Even the left-wing Washington Post admitted that Bannon has a “very good point” when it comes to his China strategy.
“Regardless of what you think of Bannon, he just made a very good point about China,” the Post wrote in an analysis last month.
“Many experts across the political spectrum say Bannon is right: China is beating up America economically, and neither the U.S. government nor U.S. businesses have done much about it for years,” the Post stated.
“It’s a weird day when I agree with Steve Bannon, but he’s right on this,” Jennifer Harris, a China expert at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former top staffer in President Obama’s State Department, said in the Washington Post piece. “Going back to George W. Bush, America’s policy toward China has been to ask nicely.”
“That has not panned out well,” Harris said.
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