Graham On US-China Trade War: ‘Until They Feel The Pain, They’re Not Going To Stop’

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that U.S. consumers would have to be willing to feel some pain in order to make China finally end its unfair trading practices. 
  • Graham commended President Donald Trump for labeling China a currency manipulator, something he said former Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama weren’t willing to do. 
  • China announced a 25% tariff Friday on American automobiles and more tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods. Trump responded with additional tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese imports. 

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said Americans have to be ready to tighten their belts in order to make China’s government change its trade practices.

“I’m glad American companies are in China doing business because there’s a lot of customers. What I don’t like is they close off markets to the American business community in China,” Graham said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “They’re required to have a Chinese business partner when you do business in China, and they steal all of your stuff.”

The lawmaker was speaking about the escalating trade war between the Trump administration and the Chinese Communist government.

 “How do you get China to change without creating some pain on them and us? I don’t know,” he said.


President Donald Trump announced Friday he would raise existing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods from 25% to 30%, with the hike beginning on Oct. 1. Another $300 billion worth of goods from China were to be slapped with a 10% tariff on Sept. 1 — Trump said Friday this tax will now be 15%.

The announcement was in response to China’s decision earlier that morning to slap all American automobiles with a 25% tariff and a 5% to 10% tariff on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports. These tariffs came after Trump jokingly told a gaggle of reporters that he was “the chosen one” to take on China’s controversial trade practices.

Graham made the case Sunday that, while the trade war will ding U.S. consumers, the White House should stay the course because it’s in a better standing compared to China, which exports many more products to the U.S. than the other way around.

“The goal is to get them to change their behavior. The Chinese government, the Chinese army and the Chinese business community are one and the same,” Graham said. “They’re very mercantile. You don’t have these disputes among democracies, but the Chinese Communist Party runs everything in China.”

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Lindsey Graham speaks to the media after special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Until they feel the pain, they’re not going to stop. They need to change their intellectual property theft practices. They need to open up their markets to us,” the senator continued. “They need to become a reliable trading partner rather than a mercantile system that cheats everybody out of market share.”

Beijing and Washington, D.C., have been negotiating extensively on trade since 2018. There have been instances where China offered a few concessions, such as agreeing to purchase more U.S. agricultural and industrial products, allow more access to Chinese markets, and abide by more property theft cybersecurity rules. (RELATED: Lindsey Graham: Democrats ‘Can’t Have It Both Ways’ On Immigration Reform)

However, talks have continually reached an impasse. Graham surmised that the Chinese government may now be waiting Trump out until the next election passes.

The South Carolina Republican commended Trump for getting tough with the Communist country, unlike past presidents.

“I had a bill with [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer seven or eight years ago to label China a currency manipulator and put a 27.5% tariff on every product that benefited from currency manipulation,” Graham said Sunday. “[Former President George] Bush would never do it. [Former President Barack] Obama would never do it. Trump did it. To my Democratic colleagues: He’s doing the things you’ve been calling for all these years.”

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