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Trump’s tariff plan would spark war with China

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to slap tariffs on Chinese exports to the US would renew a damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies, said analysts.

Trump delivered his proposal on Wednesday where he said that if elected, he would instruct the US Trade Representative to file trade cases against China, both in the US and at the World Trade Orgaisation.

“We believe that whoever wins the US election, future US leaders will continue to adopt a basic policy of mutual cooperation with China that benefits US interests and Americans,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing on Thursday.

“Since the interdependence between the world’s two largest economies is a powerful means to deter each other, Trump’s proposal would be difficult to implement,” Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies of the China Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

However, a new US-China trade war would erupt if Trump gets elected and implements his proposal, said Song Guoyou, a professor at Fudan University’s Centre for American Studies, adding that China would retaliate against US exports to China.

Echoing Song, Liu told the Global Times that the trade war would lead to a deadlock.

Song said the trade war would have a negative impact on many areas in both countries, including China’s manufacturing industry, US agriculture, airplane manufacturing and the IT industry.

Furthermore, a US-China trade war would also drag the rest of the world into trade protectionism, Song added.

Labelling China as a “currency manipulator,” Trump would sabotage the current economic exchange mechanism between the two nations and agreements reached so far on the yuan exchange rate reform, Song added.

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Trump calls US court system ‘unfair’ after ‘Dreamers’ ruling: AFP

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Donald Trump

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US President Donald Trump lashed out Wednesday at the US judicial system as “broken and unfair” after a judge blocked his decision to end a program that protects so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.

Earlier, the White House had called the ruling Tuesday by US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco “outrageous,” coming the same day Trump met lawmakers from both camps on the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

“It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our Court System is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts,” Trump said in a tweet.

The DACA program, instituted by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama in 2012, protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country illegally as children.

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American aid cuts to Pakistan won’t change its policy toward terrorism

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American aid cuts to Pakistan

On Thursday, the State Department announced a freeze on most of Washington’s security aid to Pakistan. The decision won’t torpedo the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, as a rupture in relations would more likely result from a more drastic measure, such as designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terror.

Still, a fragile partnership already on tenterhooks will now grow ever more tenuous, especially because cutting aid to the Pakistanis is unlikely to compel them to crack down on the terrorists that target American troops in Afghanistan. In other words, Pakistan won’t do what America wants it to do. That’s because Pakistan’s links to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, groups based in Pakistan that stage attacks in Afghanistan, serve longstanding national interests that are all but immutable.

Consider that these groups push back against the presence of Pakistan’s archenemy, India, in Afghanistan. The Taliban and Haqqani network may be fighting Afghan and American troops, but they’re also virulently anti-Indian and have attacked Indian targets in Afghanistan. Pakistan views India as an existential threat, and as the less powerful of the two, it must rely on asymmetric means to push back against India. Using non-state militant actors against its fearsome foe serves that purpose.
Additionally, Pakistan rightly believes U.S. forces will eventually leave Afghanistan. Amid the large-scale destabilization, including civil war, that may ensue, Pakistan wants to ensure it retains influence with and ties to the Taliban, arguably the most powerful non-state actor in Afghanistan. So the very terrorists that America wants Pakistan to eliminate are embraced by Pakistan as assets to be deployed against India, and as hedges against an eventual U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

For Pakistan, ties to terrorists amount to a strategic imperative. Being deprived of aid, even hundreds of millions of dollars of it, won’t change this calculus. It’s not as if the aid suspension will deliver a devastating blow to Pakistan. It can compensate by tapping into its deep security partnerships with Saudi Arabia and China. Pakistan has weathered previous U.S. aid suspensions, and this time around should be no different.

It’s hard to say what can be done to change Pakistan’s policy toward terrorists. The Trump administration has suggested it may resort to punitive actions that go beyond aid cuts. The implication is that draconian measures could eventually bring Pakistan to its knees and cause it to capitulate to U.S. demands.

These tough steps may include expanding drone strikes, revoking Pakistan’s non-NATO ally status, sanctioning Pakistani military officers with ties to terror, and designating Pakistan as a sponsor of terror. They could also entail non-security punitive measures such as getting the International Monetary Fund, where Washington enjoys strong influence, to stop providing lifelines, in the form of loans and bailout packages, to Pakistan’s fragile economy.

Yet, if provoked by these draconian policies, an outraged Pakistan may be inclined to tighten rather than ease its embrace of militants. It could help the Taliban and Haqqani Network intensify violence in Afghanistan. Indeed, for Washington, taking a harder line on Pakistan is risky business and could exacerbate the already-immense challenges of its warfighting efforts in Afghanistan.

Pakistan may contend it would be more willing to address U.S. concerns about terror if America helped advance Pakistan’s interests, such as by actively pursuing a solution to the Kashmir dispute, or by cutting back on its rapidly growing ties with India. In reality, because of its own interests, these are non-starters for Washington.

But this all amounts to putting the cart before the horse. For now, the Trump administration has restricted itself to suspending security assistance. In the coming days, expect angry statements from the Pakistani government, but perhaps not much else. Some analysts have suggested Pakistan may retaliate by shutting down the supply routes on its soil used by NATO vehicles to access Afghanistan. That is certainly possible.

However, Pakistan may also opt to hold its fire, preferring to keep its prime tool of leverage in reserve as a deterrent to forestall the possibility of Washington resorting to more draconian moves. For now, Pakistan may instead retaliate with softer measures, such as issuing fewer visas to Americans.

There are lessons in all of this, and particularly for members of Congress, including most recently Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who plans to introduce legislation to end aid to Pakistan. Aid cuts to Pakistan can convey strong messages of unhappiness about Pakistan’s policy toward terrorism, but they can’t be expected to induce changes in Pakistan’s behavior. In the context of U.S.-Pakistan relations, the core impacts of aid cuts are symbolic more than substantive.

So the best way to pitch a bill to Americans about ending aid to Pakistan is to emphasize the benefit not for U.S. foreign policy, but for the U.S. economy: It puts money back in the hands of the American taxpayer.

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Donald Trump denounces ex-aide Steve Bannon, says he’s ‘lost his mind’

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Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump unleashed a spectacular denunciation of one of his closest political allies Wednesday, describing his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as insane and irrelevant.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Trump said in a statement that was notably abrasive, even for America’s combative 45th president.

Trump said Bannon — who engineered the New York real estate mogul’s link to the nationalist far right and helped create a pro-Trump media ecosystem — was “only in it for himself.”

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