The End of the Road


We are only two days away from the 2016 Presidential Election, one thing is certain: both Trump and Clinton will use their individual rhetorical strategies to gain American votes by bashing China. Donald Trump has received a great deal of attention this year for his harsh rhetoric about trade with China and lost jobs. When Trump’s campaign is examined into more specific policies, however, he doesn’t offer much that’s different from his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Both candidates oppose new and old trade agreements, and they both want to use domestic trade more aggressively. Until recently, the dispute over trade has been mostly about trust, with Clinton accusing Trump of being an “outsourcer” and Trump accusing Clinton of secretly supporting trade deals she publicly opposes. The candidates have finally pitched conflicting policy proposals regarding trade.

The American Desk

Along with creating high tariffs against China, Trump has proposed the creation of a new office in the Department of Commerce called the “American Desk.” The American Desk would oversee several trade programs that are currently located in different cabinet departments.

“American trade policy is currently mismanaged by dozens of competing bureaucracies, spread across the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, State, Treasury — all of these departments. So many departments,” ~Donald Trump

imgres“The mission of the American Desk will be to protect the economic interest of the American worker and the national interest of the United States.” ~Donald Trump

Trump uses the proposal of the American Desk as a rhetorical strategy to gain supporters. First, he stresses how much our trade policy needs reform and structure. Next, he proceeds to tell supporters the mission of his proposed solution. Trump is appealing to the voters’ fear by illustrating a nation in crisis, while positioning himself to be the nation’s hero.

Trade Prosecutor


The video above displays Clinton proposing a new political position who would report directly to the president called the Trade Prosecutor. “We’re going to pull the country together and have trade agreement shall be in force. Why, I’m going to have a trade prosecutor for the first time in history. And we’re going to enforce those agreements.” said Clinton. This proposal appeals to trade critics that have accused past presidential administrations of allowing other countries violate trade agreements without legitimate consequences. Clinton’s rhetoric attracts voters who are angered about the U.S. being lenient on foreign nations in terms of trade.

The Big Question

Ultimately, voters must ask themselves: Are the American Desk and Trade Prosecutor feasible proposals, or just rubbish meant to sound like a legitimate reform?


Is China Really the Problem?

imgres-4Throughout Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he has carried out the consistent theme of the United States losing at trade, and using the trade deficit as the evidence.

“We’re losing a tremendous amount of money, according to many stats, $800 billion a year on trade,” he told The Times.

“They’re(China and Mexico)beating us so badly,” he has said. “Every country we lose money with.”

Americans are drawn to this rhetoric, because they’re dissatisfied and fearful, particularly those in the unemployed and underemployed working class.

However, Trump’s framing of the trade deficit even conflicts with the view of many economists like Robert E. Scott, Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research for the Economic Policy Institute, who agree that the current trade agreements are detrimental to American workers and want to see change. The best and most widespread view among economists conclude that, trade deficits are not inherently good or bad; they can be either, depending on circumstances.

Trump uses his anti-China sentiments as a rhetorical strategy to convince Americans that eliminating the trade deficit would make America great again. But, trying to eliminate the trade deficit could mean giving up some of the key levers of power that allow the United States to get its way in international politics. Thus, struggling Americans must rethink the Trumponomics that quickly blames trade agreements with China for our economic concerns.

Yesterday’s Problem

Chart generated by Bureau of Labor Statistics based off of an Employment,     Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey           (National). The data reflects labor of the U.S. Manufacturing Industry.   

Despite the rhetoric of Trump, global manufacturing is trending in a positive direction for the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, factory jobs are on the rise in the U.S. and many of these new jobs are coming back to North America from China, which is struggling to maintain its manufacturing capacity. In a 2015 study, the Boston Consulting Group said the costs of manufacturing in China’s major export-producing zone were now almost the same as in the United States, after taking into account wages, worker productivity, energy costs and other factors. Meaning, that China may not be as big of a problem as this years candidates have made it seem.

A Turning Tide

A worker inspects the metal frame of a Ford Escape S.U.V. at an assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUKE SHARRETT / BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY

Once again, however, predictions of the collapse of American manufacturing are slowly being proved wrong. Although, China dominated the manufacturing industry between the years of 1999-2011, jobs are gradually finding their way back to the United States. Trump has successfully used his rhetoric to inspire and motivate many struggling Americans that have lost their manufacturing jobs — but while doing so he has motivated the worst in people, not the best. He appeals to their negative emotions about their current situation as rhetorical strategy to gain their support of Trumponomics. However, as the election rapidly approaches voters must seriously analyze if his plans are actually reasonable.


Frenemies: How does China view Trump and Clinton?

imgres-2As the U.S. Presidential Election Day approaches, the Chinese are paying closer attention to who will be elected as the next president. It has become normal for candidates to take the anti-China posture over the years, and has continued to be at the forefront of issues this presidential election. Trump has made controversial statements about China like, the country’s currency devaluation would “suck the blood out” of America or “We [Americans] can’t continue to allow China to rape our country.” Although, Trump has taken his rhetoric about China to new heights, but Clinton has gained a reputation of being “very fierce” when it comes to China, according to a Chinese official. We have discussed over the past few weeks how both candidates’ rhetoric has influence American voters, but how do the Chinese view the rhetoric of Trump and Hillary?

Hillary is No Friend of China’s

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feng Li/Pool (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR37I2M
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing September 5, 2012.

Some Chinese officials look at Clinton — the current secretary of state under President Barack Obama— as the candidate who would bring continuity to U.S.-China in regards to the two countries’ intertwined economies, but this assertion ignores differences between her and President Obama. Not only is Clinton generally considered more to have a more aggressive rhetoric than Obama on issues of projecting American strength abroad, but she has demonstrated a pattern of criticizing China on trade and human rights issues.  Clinton’s history with China extends all the way from a 1995 speech that stirred controversy in Beijing, up to a recent 2015 tweet about the country’s persecution of feminists.  Although Clinton’s plans with trade with China may be less harsh than Trump, her rhetoric is more predictable than Trump. “She is predictable, they generally know how she approaches China: There are aspects they don’t like about her, but they generally know what to expect,” Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said.

“Donald Trump is a Puzzlement”


Trump’s campaign has used recurrent pattern of language to gain American supports that were negatively affected by the U.S. Trade policy with China. However, Trumps rhetoric to gain American manufacturing supporters has created an adverse effect in regards to the Chinese.  According to Chinese officials, Donald trump is a puzzlement. “They don’t like his proclamations about what he would do in terms of tariffs on Chinese goods, and that he’d go after China on economic and trade issues. But having said that, I don’t think there are many who think he can follow through on what he’s talking about, or even if he knows what he’s talking about,” Kenneth Lieberthal, senior fellow emeritus, said. On the contrary, many Chinese actually support Trump. Not because they agree with his trade policies, but because of his rhetoric on issue of the Islamic State and terrorism and low-set focus on human rights, oppose to his opponent Clinton. They believe that his focus on these issues will distract him from U.S.-Sino relations.

Friends and Enemies

Ultimately, the Chinese will remain frenemies with the United States regardless if either candidate is elected into office. Trump’s aggressive rhetoric may be affective to his American supporters, but the Chinese do not seem to be very receptive to him actually being a threat to their economy in regards to his trade reform. Clinton may not be liked by the Chinese, and could use less harsh rhetoric when it comes to China to build a better relationship with the country.


Trump and Clinton vs. China

As the 2016 U.S. presidential election comes to an end, one thing is certain: both Trump and Clinton will use their unique rhetorical styles to win American votes by attacking China.

The two candidates may not agree on much, but they do agree on one thing: that China has robbed millions of American jobs and policies need to be put into place to bring jobs back to the states.

The US presidential candidates love to talk viciously on China and trade. Clinton is intimately associated with the Obama administration’s 2011 pivot to Asia – a strategy designed to counter growing Chinese influence in the region; while Trump talks continuously about bringing manufacturing jobs back from China to the US.imgres

Thus, how will both candidates actually behave in office? Trump’s aggressive rhetorical style can make him seem tough, but talking tough and being tough are two entirely different playing fields.

Voters must ask themselves “Would either candidate really make big changes in US policies towards China if elected to the presidency?”

Trump can talk tough..

The Trump campaign has prided itself on its slogan, ” Make America Great Again.” Trump is very adamant that trade with China is something that has made America less great than it could be.

In the video above, Trump outlines a seven point plan to bring jobs back to the states.  Trump claims he will declare China as a  currency manipulator if elected into office.  He also threatens that he will stop China from stealing American intellectual property.  Lastly, Trump claims that he will put an end to unfair competition by making China live up to the same kinds of labor and environmental standards that US firms have to meet. Ultimately, Trump uses the symbolic world view as a rhetoric strategy when discussing trade with China. He is advocating change by implementing harsh trade restrictions on China in order to bring back jobs to the states. Manufacturing workers may be fond of this idea, but Trump must present a practical plan to gain the rest of the American vote.

Clinton in the middle?


Clinton also talk tough about China, but her statements are less extreme than those of Trump. She has not broadcasted a position on China being a currency manipulator. Rather, she has talked about denying China market economy status under US law, a position that isn’t enjoyable in trade law anywhere in the world. In short, Clinton claims to be hard on trade with China if elected into presidency. However, her approach is less intense and more stable than Trump. If Clinton continues to use this as a rhetorical strategy, she can win votes on her rhetoric of trade policy between the US and China.



A Dramatic Shift

Presidential candidates pledge every four years that they want to do more to help American workers facing competition from around the globe. After these candidates take office, they have pursued more appeasing trade policies toward China, in order to keep a solid relationship with Beijing. However, during the 2016 election there has been expansive political distress over the loss of well-paid working class jobs to global competition. Additionally, China’s increasingly asser0428tradepactcolor-1265tive military posture, advise that the next president could actually follow through on pledges to reform trade with China. Trump has gained much attention because of his aggressive rhetorical style in regards trade with China. Nonetheless we must also pay attention to Clinton’s big switch on free trade this election and how that effects her rhetorical style.

The Flip Flop

In the link above, Hillary Clinton praised TPP as a deal that “sets the gold standard in trade agreements.” However, last fall, when the 12 participating nations announced they had finalized the agreement after years of negotiations, Clinton said she opposes it. Clinton began to criticize the agreements lack of a crackdown on currency manipulation and provisions to extend pharmaceutical drug companies’ patent protections in poorer countries. Later, in a speech given to 500 union workers and supporters she stated, images-1“I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she said. “I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as president.” Although Clinton may be more politically savvy than Trump,  Clinton’s flip-flop of support cramps her rhetorical style because many Americans already view her as untrustworthy.

And Again…

The TPP agreement wasn’t the only free trade agreement that Clinton has changed her opinion on.  She spoke in favor of NAFTA when her husband signed it into law during his presidency, but called it a “mistake” during her 2008 presidential campaign.

In order for Clinton to sway voters to support her trade policies concerning China , she must dwell on the fact that she is the more “stable” candidate because her mixed history on free trade speaks to the idea that she is untrustworthy. Clinton must gain the trust of the voters, so they will feel more inclined to trust that she will actually implement any policies she plan to impose on China once elected into office, and not “flip” her opinion.

-Raven Rice

Cartoon links:

Hillary Clinton’s Future Trade Policy Brutally Summed Up By One Cartoon




Made In China

For several decades, a post–World War II bipartisan consensus has held that reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade would promote prosperity in all trading countries. Thanks to the issue’s resonance in industrial battleground states and presidential candidate, Donald Trump, howling on the subject, trade and trade agreements such as the TPP and NAFTA have played an outsized role in this year’s US presidential politics.  Trump uses an aggressive style of rhetoric by making statements like “They do it to us,” to gain support for his potential implementation of harsh trade barriers with China. He also uses this style of rhetoric to expose any policy weakness in his opponent, Hillary Clinton.


Trade War

 With China, Trump says he would impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. For example, if an American consumer goes out to buy a stove from China. Let’s say that the stove normally costs about $100. Under Trump’s trade policy, that stove from China would now cost 45 percent more, or $145. The thinking behind a such a harsh tariff is that the American consumer  would be more inclined to purchase the American-made stove selling for less. Trump believes this will stop China from “raping our country.”  Trumps use of the analogy should be named as an example of faulty rhetoric style in regards to his trade policy with China as a result of his previous remarks he made about Hillary Clinton that critics are calling sexist and for promoting the endorsement of boxer Mike Tyson, who was convicted of rape in Indiana.

 Trump Rally In Manchester, N.H.


Trump has long blamed broad trade agreements for harming U.S. workers. But the rally in Manchester, N.H. marked a rhetorical shift as Trump used his aggressive temperament to eject members of both parties who have supported trade deals as anti-American and in league with having “special interests.” For many Republicans in particular, the rhetoric amounts to an assault on core ideological beliefs of conservative economic policies that have been in place for years. Ultimately, Trumps aggressive rhetorical style has not been popular with those of his own party, but feuding with powerful business interests makes him an attractive candidate for many rebellious working-class voters, including some who have supported Democrats in the past.

Below is a link to the full speech: