China Dismisses Joe Biden’s Proposed Tariffs as a ‘Farce’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

China’s state-run Global Times on Wednesday dismissed tariffs that the Biden administration threatened as a “farce,” reserving particular contempt for the administration’s efforts to protect the American electric vehicle (EV) industry from Chinese competition.

The Global Times lectured:

This approach contradicts President Biden’s commitment of not “holding back China’s development” and not “seeking decoupling from China.” It also goes against the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. To some extent, it can even be understood as the US initiating a new round of tariff friction.

Before announcing the imposition of additional tariffs on China, the US repeatedly spread negative information in an attempt to smear related Chinese technology and products. This is essentially a sign of guilt, trying to manipulate public opinion to cover up the fact that they are politicizing and instrumentalizing economic and trade issues.

Although it did not work very hard to finalize the comparison, the “farce” part of the Global Times’ critique was apparently the Biden administration complaining about the dangers of Chinese EV dumping when “almost zero” vehicles are currently imported from China to begin with. 

The Chinese editorialists dismissed the entire Biden trade policy as little more than a “political show aimed at winning voters in an election year” and threatened that Beijing would respond with “resolute measures to defend its own interests.”

Former Global Times editor Hu Xijin piled on with a video editorial blasting Biden’s tariff hike on Chinese EVs from 27.5 percent to 102.5 percent as a sign of “panic and incompetence.”

Hu saw the tariffs as a sign of weakness, a “white flag raised by the U.S.” to admit that America has “given up” in the face of Chinese competition.

“The U.S. is increasingly incompetent, relying on high tariffs for protection,” he said.

Hu vowed that even without access to American markets, China would create “the world’s largest supply chain and production capacity” for EVs, making a “mockery of America’s attempts to strike at China’s key industries.”

Employees work on the assembly line of a C11 electric SUV at a factory of Chinese EV startup Leapmotor on April 26, 2023, in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province of China. (Hu Xiaofei/VCG via Getty Images)

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday backed up the Global Times’ threats, pledging to impose retaliatory tariffs on American products if the Biden administration does not cancel its plans to quadruple tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin hinted on Tuesday that China might bring a case against the Biden tariffs to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” Wang said.

Every Chinese official and media organ that denounced the Biden tariff plan took pains to deny the “overcapacity” warnings that American officials issued. None of them had any response to the critique that Chinese government subsidies have created a huge amount of excess manufacturing capacity that could only be useful for flooding foreign markets with cheap goods; they simply brushed the idea aside, as though it were patently absurd.

Politico on Wednesday noticed that the same politicians who once slammed former President Donald Trump for raising tariffs on Chinese imports are having a “very different reaction” to Biden’s plans. Politico attributed this to the American “political consensus” shifting against free trade rather than naked partisan bias.

The consensus has shifted so much that “protectionism” is now taken to mean demanding an outright ban on Chinese electric vehicles, which could easily dominate a market the American political class has pumped up with billions of dollars in subsidies over the past two decades. Democrats also seem eager to protect the U.S. solar panel market and other green energy concerns.

Republicans are likewise nervous to see China gobble up those billions of dollars in sunk costs on green energy and EVs. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) described the Chinese auto industry as an “extinction-level threat” to both “American automakers and the workers they employ.”

Contrary to Chinese state media’s hooting about white flags of surrender and demonstrations of weakness, both Republicans and Democrats whom Politico interviewed said they found Trump’s successful use of tariffs against China to be illuminating, although, naturally, the Democrats claimed they trusted Biden to wield tariffs more effectively.


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