Trump may have diplomatically boxed himself in
April 27, 2018
The Trump administration may be patting itself on the back by playing tough guy with tariffs in its effort to convince the Chinese government to return to the negotiating table for the purpose of revising reciprocal trade arrangements. President Xi, however, may have turned the tables in China’s favor with his hosting last month of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un who received a very warm welcome in Beijing.
The economic brinkmanship game being played out by the two leaders of the world’s two biggest economies is not occurring in a diplomatic vacuum. It already has caused major reductions in asset portfolio values across the globe irrespective of class, and the fear of widespread disruptions in both the developed and third world countries in the targeted products, services and commodities labor markets.
There is no question that the U.S. is at a disadvantage in the trade imbalance with China to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars per year, but is this really the best way to resolve this issue? Bullying is not good in the schoolyard, but it is infinitely more damaging in international relations. As the rabbit to his chagrin discovered, subtle steady movements generally win the race.
While China has matched us in gross domestic product, its economy is much less dynamic than that of the United States. Most of its technology has been derived from theft, not innovation. The United States could learn much from Israel in this regard. Instead of reducing funding for research and development, which we have been doing for several decades, we should reverse that trend, and in partnership with business and our universities, increase not only applied R&D, but also fundamental research in the natural sciences. Who knows what great discoveries lie ahead! This is what Israel has done and the fruits of that effort are self-evident around the world.
The benefits for Israel have not only been economic. Israel has benefited in the security and military spheres. It has won the friendship and support of many countries with whom Israel has shared its technology, and aided those countries with its innovative methods in agriculture, medicine, disaster relief and in a whole host of other ways.
We cannot peacefully stop Kim Jong Un from having nuclear weapons without China’s assistance. While the president may have his rose-colored glasses narrowly focused on unilaterally bringing China to agree to closer trade equalization, he forgets that President Xi has a strong hand too in solving other issues that are vital to the United States.
The “art of the deal” in this instance requires less dependence on Chinese acquiescence and greater effort on our part in making Chinese exports less vital to our economy by following Israel’s example of innovation, creativity and increased demand for America’s unique products and services. By unleashing the genius of American scientific inquiry and discovery, which in the past has made America great, we can in the future, as the president so aptly puts it, “make America great again.”
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Mel Pearlman has been practicing law in Central Florida for the past 45 years. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; on the District VII Mental Health Board, as Special Prosecutor for the City of Winter Park, Florida; and on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Research and Development Authority. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and served as the first Vice President of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as its first pro-bono legal counsel.