“If we keep going the way we’re going, we will be an agricultural colony for China,” said Curtis Ellis, praising President Trump’s tariff crackdown on China’s trade abuses, during a Wednesday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Ellis, the senior policy advisor for America First Policies, said the Chinese state extorts American businesses by demanding access to intellectual property in exchange for entry into the Chinese market. American businesses, he added, were largely silent about the extortion due to fear of being shut out of the Chinese market.
“The president is scheduled to announce $50 billion in tariffs against China as part of a year-long investigation that’s been conducted by the U.S. trade representative and the Commerce Department into Chinese deliberate theft of intellectual property [and] theft of our trade secrets,” said Ellis. “They have policies in place where basically they steal what they don’t extort from us. They tell American companies, ‘If you want to do business in China’ — they hold out a carrot of this huge market of potential Chinese consumers — they say, ‘Well, you have to bring in a Chinese partner, and then you have to give us your blueprints, trade secrets, and technology if you want to do business over here.’”
“That which our businesses don’t hand over to them, they find a way to steal through cyber-espionage and other means,” Ellis continued. “This is well-documented, [and] it’s been ongoing. What’s changed, now, is that we have a president who’s willing to call them out on it. Up until now, even the businesses who are being robbed blind were reluctant to speak out against it and speak out about it and actually were lobbying against our government taking any action because they were hypnotized by this dream of a huge market of Chinese consumers, and they did not want to get on the wrong side of the Chinese government, but it’s become so egregious that even the businesses who have been lobbying against taking action against China are now saying, ‘Enough is enough, we’ve got to do something.’”
The Apparel and Footwear Association of America is a de facto voice of the Chinese state, suggested Ellis.
“The apparel and footwear industries are basically wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Chinese Communist Party [and] the Chinese government,” assessed Ellis. “So much of the textile and apparel and footwear business is sewn up by the Chinese. Basically, we’re just importing everything. When you see a press release from the Apparel and Footwear Association of America, it’s basically the Apparel and Footwear Importers from China Association. So they’re going to be screaming, ‘Oh my Gosh, Americans are going to be barefoot and dressed in rags because of these tariffs.’”
Ellis also framed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a de facto voice of the Chinese government.
“The U.S Chamber of Commerce, in anticipation of this a couple of days ago, put out a press release saying, ‘Well, you know we don’t want a trade war, and rather than imposing tariffs, these should be done very surgically and we should engage with China to correct this.’ Well, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last few decades and it hasn’t worked, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is basically the Importer’s Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chinese government is involved in subsidizing their state-owned enterprises for the explicit purpose of driving American free enterprise into extinction,” declared Ellis. “They are not engaged in free market activity over there in Beijing. It is a command economy, and they are looking at the long-term and the they are saying, ‘We will subsidize our industries in the short-term in order to get the long-term advantage. Once we have all of the technology and have a corner on the world markets, then we will be free to do whatever want.’”
Ellis described “free trade ideology” as myopic and reductionist as an analytical tool for international relations.
“The entire free trade ideology by the radical British Richard Cobden said, ‘Since we have free trade, armies are going to become a thing of the past [and] divided nations will wither away,’ which sounds a lot like what Karl Marx said about would happen under communism,” Ellis said. “That never happened. Under this what I call ‘phony free trade’ with China — because they’re a mercantilist country — their military has only gotten bigger. They’re now spreading their influence throughout South America, Central America, Africa, and elsewhere. So we have to do something. Thomas Jefferson was a free trader, but after the War of 1812 when he saw the White House burned by the British, he said, ‘We must have our manufacturing industries. Even if costs a little more, we should be buying what’s made in America.’”
“We don’t want blunt instruments,” said Ellis of tariffs’ application. “We want to use this wisely, but we have to take some action because we are in an economic war right now with a country that does not have our interests at heart [and] does not share our values. If we keep going the way we’ve been going, this whole idea of free enterprise will be something we read about in history books, but of course those history books will be censored by the Chinese censors and it will become a forgotten dark age.”
Mansour cast tariffs as an essential tool to combat China’s theft of intellectual property.
“If we don’t do this, then what are we going to do?” asked Mansour. “Do we just sit back and let them basically steal our intellectual property and extort our businesses who are trying to get entry into their market? …We take everything they send us, but they don’t take anything that we send them, or they make the rules of entry so ridiculous that we hand over our intellectual property. It ultimately comes down to, what are we supposed to do? Just nothing? Are we so wedded to this idea of free trade at all costs, regardless of whether it’s killing us, that we’ll just unilaterally disarm and say, ‘Okay let the Chinese take over because we have to have cheap goods.’?”
China violates the rules of the World Trade Organization ostensibly composed to protect free trade, said Ellis.
“The practices that China is engaged in are against the rules of the world trading system, of the actual institutions that were set up to promote so-called free trade,” Ellis said. “I say ‘so-called’ because I think it’s managed trade. I think it’s like dividing up markets the way a cartel would. What is called free trade under the World Trade Organization allows for tariffs to be imposed against those who aren’t playing by the rules, but no one has had the courage to stand up and say, ‘The Emperor has no clothes.’ What China is doing is against the rules.”
Mansour invited Ellis to comment on Peter Schweizer’s latest book on governmental corruption, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends.
“[The Chinese] typically buy off the big interests, political or financial interests in the targeted country and they turn those people into lobbyists for their interests,” replied Ellis. “So the Chinese have lobbyists inside the Fortune 50 companies on Wall Street. .. They know that Wall Street an the financial industry in America is the most powerful industry. … It is classic Chinese military strategy, that you win the war without firing a shot, by getting the interests in your enemy’s camp to do your bidding.”
Ellis concludes by framing China’s economic and trade policies as threats to American sovereignty and national self-determination.
“Have we become so addicted and fetishizing cheap goods that that’s all we care about?” asked Ellis. “What price are we willing to pay to have an independent country and to be self-determinant of our future? If we keep going the way we’re going, we will be an agricultural colony for China, we will be growing pigs, growing food for the Chinese industrial military machine. That is the direction we are going. That’s what they have in mind for us. That may be fine for the senator from Nebraska, because he doesn’t really care, it’s good for his constituents in China, but I don’t think that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
“I’m not really interested in living in the world of the Hunger Games,” quipped Mansour.
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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.