Republicans Applaud Trump as Business Groups Express Concern Following Latest Round of China Tariffs

By Janita Kan

President Donald Trump’s latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods aimed at balancing the “very unfair trading relationship” with the Chinese regime is garnering praise from Republicans but also causing concern among the business community.

In an announcement on Aug. 23, Trump raised tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods—that are currently imposed—from 25 percent to 30 percent, which will begin on Oct. 1. Additionally, he increased the rate of the newly announced tariff on $300 billion of goods—scheduled to begin on Sept. 1—from 10 percent to 15 percent.

These tariff increases came hours after China imposed an additional 10 percent of tariffs on roughly $75 billion worth of U.S. goods in retaliation to Trump’s move to tax the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese goods on Aug. 1. The president unexpectedly announced the new duties a day after American and Chinese negotiators wrapped up talks in Shanghai. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Aug. 2 the president was “not satisfied” with how the trade deal had progressed.

Following the Aug. 23 announcement, many Republicans expressed support for the president’s strong stance against the Chinese regime, saying that he is the first president to force China to change its behavior and end unfair trade practices.

Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it was important to stop China from cheating the United States, adding that the United States has a “good hand” against China and should “play it out.”

“The goal is to get China to stop cheating the United States out of market share, to play by the rules that everybody else in the world plays by,” Graham told Fox News on Aug. 23.

“When it comes to a trade war, we’ve got more bullets than they do. So I think the president is determined to get China to change their behavior and I’m 100 percent with him,” he added.

“We could put more tariffs on products coming out of China than they can put tariffs going into China from the United States. Will we feel this as consumers? Yes, but pay now or pay later when it comes to China.”

Similarly, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also shared similar sentiments in a statement on Aug. 23, saying China has the responsibility to end the escalating trade war.

“President Trump is right to fight back against China’s well-documented rule-breaking and intellectual property theft,” he said in a statement to 1040 WHO radio. “He’s the first president to take action on a problem that’s been going on for decades. China’s economy is hurting as a result, but so too are U.S. consumers and many sectors in the American economy. Iowa farmers have been particularly hard hit and are at risk of permanently losing an export market.”

“The only way to end this trade war is for China to come to the table and negotiate seriously on an enforceable deal that ends its bad behavior and unfair trade practices. In the meantime, tariffs cannot be the only negotiating tool. Tariffs are not a long-term solution,” he added.

Former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz told Lou Dobbs in an appearance on Aug. 23 that Trump is the only president with the personality who would “have the true guts” to take China on.

“I think everybody in their gut understands that China has been ripping us off for a very long time,” Chaffetz said. “I think America figured out that it wanted a disruptive and unconventional president [to take on China] and Donald Trump is about the only personality that I think would have the true guts as president to take this on and win it. Not just in the short term but in the long term.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have criticized the president for fighting for the United States against the Chinese communist regime, while expressing concern over the impact the tariffs would have on the agriculture industry.

“This Administration should immediately end this disastrous policy and help get our agriculture economy back on its feet,” Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Similarly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called for Trump to end the trade war against the Chinese regime.

“We can’t afford these self-inflicted wounds any longer. President Trump could end this trade war today. Bravado is not a substitute for a workable trade policy,” Feinstein said.

Some business groups have weighed in on the tariff increases, expressing concern over negative impacts in the economy American consumers could potentially be faced with.

“Both nations need to seriously consider the ramifications of their actions on global economies and markets and stop creating an environment of extreme uncertainty,” said Jason Oxman, president of Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a group that represents technology companies.

“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment. The administration’s approach clearly isn’t working, and the answer isn’t more taxes on American businesses and consumers. Where does this end?” The National Retail Federation Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a statement on Aug. 23.

Stephen Moore, former senior advisor to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and distinguished visiting fellow at Washington-based think tank The Heritage Foundation, previously told The Epoch Times that the Aug. 1 tariffs were a negotiation tactic to force progress in the trade talks.

“Trump is taking a harder line,” he said. “He is very frustrated with the Chinese government.”

The move, Moore said, was to put pressure on Beijing so that it wouldn’t stall until after the 2020 U.S. presidential election to reach a trade deal.

“He’s tightening the screws now, so they don’t just play a waiting game,” Moore said.

Trump previously said the Chinese regime “has to do a lot” in order to turn things around on the ongoing trade war. He had threatened the regime with tariff increases on numerous occasions if Beijing did not work towards advancing a trade deal.

China has to do a lot of things to turn it around,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn before departing to New Jersey on Aug. 2.

“Frankly, if they don’t do them, I can always increase [tariffs] very substantially.”

Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had agreed to restart trade talks in late June, after negotiations had broke down in early May when the U.S. administration accused the regime of backtracking on provisions agreed over months of talks.

The president said the United States has been treated unfairly by the Chinese regime during previous administrations.

“We can’t just go and make an even deal with China,” he said. “We have to make a much better deal with China because right now they have a very unfair playing field, and I’m turning it around.”

China was the largest goods supplier to the United States in 2018, with good imports totaling $539.5 billion last year, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

Epoch Times reporter Cathy He contributed to this report.