U.S.-China trade and strategic frictions have so-far been kept separate, but will they at some point collide? House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway discussed the issue after his keynote address to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Ag Outlook Forum.
The Ag chairman also serves on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Conaway understands the danger that China’s South China Sea island building and militarization pose to relations with the U.S., both military and economic…
“China’s mission for the South China Sea is way troubling. They have lied to us over and over about what they’re doing with those islands and it’s clear that they’ll continue to transit those straits with our ships. The tougher they get with us the likelihood of some sort of an accident or some sort of a deal with us or Japan or whatever it is, grows, the more belligerent they get, and the more stiff-necked they get about their issues.”
U.S. last year started trade dispute proceedings against China over its excess corn, rice and wheat subsidies, and its tariff rate quotas on U.S. farm goods. China imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties against U.S. distillers dried grains and still restricts US beef.
Will China go further if tensions with the U.S. flare in the South China Sea? Conaway says not likely…
“Will they cut their nose off to spite their face on the trade and their folks going hungry? I don’t think so, but we’ll see how that works out. Governor Branstad is going to be our new ambassador to China, he’s stepping into a tough deal, because North Korea…they’re going to cut off coal purchases from North Korea, and that’s going to put that regime into dire straits pretty quickly.”
Complicating things, President Donald Trump has already threatened China with huge import tariffs, but has held off on declaring China a ‘currency manipulator,’ and may have given Beijing a big ‘leg up’ in its own regional trade talks, by abandoning the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.